Open Content Creation at VCU

I’m going to hit a few of the things I’ve done with people around open educational resource creation.1 In the discussion, I’m going to ignore some complexities around the term ‘open’ in order to avoiding dragging the whole post down. My personal definition of open is very liberal2 although I can see the value of Wiley’s R framework in a variety of conversations. Once again, I’ll try to move from simpler to more complex options. The Judah Will The Judah Will is a will that was transcribed and annotated in the digital history class this semester. Ryan Smith is the history professor behind the idea and has been more than awesome to work with. Right now the work is all in Google Docs but we’re looking at paths/tools/display options that will better show the research and conversations that occurred. The simple act of transcribing the will is one act of OER creation and active participation in the field of history. The additional research and investigation of the elements of the will constitutes another layer. The majority of students in the class really enjoyed the process and liked the idea that they were adding to the sum of information available to historians. This activity also enabled the professor to model historical research/thought while interacting with the students on a project with […]

A WordPress Authoring Continuum

Image from page 60 of “Birds of La Plata” (1920) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) I often feel much of my life has been spent arguing against binary judgements related to technology.1 I’d like to have neater boundaries and simpler discussions but they always seem to get in the way of what I perceive as reality. I’ve certainly tried to articulate options for content in creation in WordPress before. I tried really hard to have a nice list here that would move you from full-constrained incrementally towards the normal backend editor but the lines kept blurring on me so . . . you get what we have here today . . . which is a failure to delineate, crisply.2 The idea that WordPress authoring is super-easy or needlessly complex is one of those arguments I have repeatedly. I believe, with varying degrees of effort/skills, WordPress authoring is simply what you want it to be. It can be tightly constrained, without even the need for an account or even a visit to the backend of WordPress. It can also be fully open with all the options and complexities you could want. They’re both choices with a fair amount of room in the middle for variations. I’ve found a few plugins and/or design […]

ANTH 101 Rebirth

I had the chance to work more on the ANTH 101 site with Ryan and Mike over winter break. It’s a pretty significant change. It’s almost entirely gutted in terms of the WordPress side of things with a different theme, some new plugins etc. but also some significant changes on how student see and interact with the work they make. Some of the initial conversations resulted in the Minimal WordPress work which . . . we ended up tossing.1 But what we ended up creating is pretty slick and does a number of pretty interesting things. The Bones ANTH101 is a large class- several hundred students large – so a chunk of being able to deal with that is making things simple for students. A large chunk of work went towards simplicity. Another large chunk of effort went towards making it feel and look app-like on a phone. That’s the equivalent of making it look cool/interesting and feel modern – pretty much the opposite of most course site software. It was expected students would be using their phones to submit work and browse. ANTH101 runs on a child-theme of Boss.Not like this boss (#nsfw). There are few different plugins that make it all work. The major ones are as follows – Visual Composer – both Mike and Ryan want to […]

More Than a Bunch of Stuff – Argumentative & Experiential History Sites

In working with students in the Digital History course, we’ve repeatedly bumped up against the idea that it’s harder to make a cohesive argument on the Internet (vs a traditional paper) or that constructing a web-based exhibition abdicates controls you have in physical space. There are frequent examples of archives referenced in the texts (Valley of the Shadow for instance) but for various reasons (age, limited time/space/knowledge) there aren’t many decent examples of constructing a multimedia argument or experiential/immersive examples. So here’s an attempt to show some sites that are far more than a-bunch-of-stuff-on-the-Internet and some elements that help them do that. Kennedy/Oswald It’s a bit heavy on the parallax for my taste but it’s a pretty direct parallel to a museum exhibit. It sets out to parallel the lives of Kennedy and Oswald reinforcing that parallel with visual metaphors (split screen transitions, similar images etc.) to reinforce that concept. There is a main text-based storyline, music to reinforce a certain mood,1 and the ability to see supporting elements by clicking on various items. The movement through the site is very guided. The links are kept within the site and remain contextualized rather than leading to other sites. The ancillary materials are a mixed bag of audio, images, video, and mixed media. Digital primary source materials are used throughout to […]

Trump Dump Data & Playing with TAGS

Image from page 60 of “Children’s ballads from history and folklore” (1886) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Driven mad by curiousity after this Matthew Baldwin tweet, I built this little thing. It uses the amazing Martin Hawksey’s TAGS for gathering the Tweets in Google Sheets and then displays it with Vue.js (which I’m sort of learning). It led me to realize that I could extend TAGS without much effort. My first attempt was to write two custom functions to get favorites and retweets. Turns out that was pretty straight forward given all Martin’s work. The TAGS element (TAGS.get) links me into Martin’s library and that’s that. So very easy once you know and then you’re just navigating the Twitter API. Turns out I can do something similar to get the Twitter bio. Initially, I just stuck these in like you’d do normal functions … =getRT(A1) or whatever and it soon ate up all the processing time allowed for my Google Scripts. That caused other things to break. Lesson learned. I then opted to set the value in the script and write that value to the cell. This little script runs on the spreadsheet change trigger and checks to see if there are any blank cells in the Favorites column (column U) […]

Instagram-ish WordPress Filter Shortcode Plugin

That beautiful link-bait title and a picture of a dead leaf! That’s why I’m a social media guru. With that self-promotion out of the way . . . I found this CSS library from Una.1 It lets you apply instagram-like filters to image via CSS. Also got to have a nice interaction with Una via Twitter to clarify the license. @twoodwar :+1: its MIT so go ahead — Una Kravets (@Una) December 6, 2016 It fit a need that a professor was expressing for one of our WordPress installs so I wrapped it in a plugin/shortcode combination. The structure goes like so . . . [ cssgram img=”https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5745/31413304786_48ab865a34_c.jpg” filter=”_1977″ ] Plain Image A Few Filtered Examples _1977 Inkwell Xpro2 1 Check out her site if you’re into developer stuff at all.

API Nirvana – Functional Details

I am way behind on blog posts. I’m also bad about telling the difference between blog posts I’ve written in my head and blog posts I’ve actually written. I am glad that being able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy is not that important. Sparked back to reality by this Tweet involving many of my favorite people on the Internet . . . I figured I’d write at least part one of that imaginary post. If my ability to tell fiction from fact continues, I’ll actually write up the content of the presentation this week. Has anyone played round with Reveal.js for slides? @cogdog perhaps? Thinking on using with @Flickr @creativecommons images Maybe fork it? — Ken Bauer (@ken_bauer) November 27, 2016 I got the opportunity to do a talk with the rather hopeful title of API Nirvana at #opened16 with Kin Lane (the API evangelist). The original proposal had doing something like the description below with a focus on the Buddhist concept of Nirvana. Kin Lane, API Evangelist, has long been a traveler on the API path. Tom Woodward has newly come to it. Kin will explain API Nirvana, that it’s more a journey than a destination (you are already on it), and Tom will explain the path and patterns of his early progress towards that destination. […]

Playing with Words – Google Sheets to jQuery Drag/Drop

flickr photo shared by Internet Archive Book Images with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) This is a modification of the old refrigerator poetry concept based on a request from some of our World Languages professors but it’ll likely have some broader applicability. It essentially allows for three major things. You can create draggable elements (words, phrases, any HTML) from a Google spreadsheet You can create destination areas for those elements (also through the Google ss) You can make it so that elements that don’t match those destinations won’t “stick” there (spreadsheet again) It might be easier to see what’s up through the short video below. This was done mostly in jQuery but there are also a few Google Script elements that make life easier. The page below has everything except the CSS. It’s decently commented I think. The only real trouble I had was figuring out where/when to feed in the draggable/droppable elements. It kicked through after a bit of experimentation but I have a long way to go with javascript. Google Script There’s a directions sheet in the spreadsheet where I wrote a custom function. That allows me to write =getId() in the cell and have it generate the right URL for whatever spreadsheet it is in. You can also automatically copy my spreadsheet by going to the following […]

Free Speech? Random Scenario Generator

Talking to Dan about his sports law course resulted in this random generator which might be fun for others. It’s still developing but I like the potential for reinforcing some concepts about free speech in a fun way that allows you to repeatedly explore the topic without it getting tedious. I thought this would be a few minutes of work but I believe that Google has shifted the structure of their JSON feeds from the Spreadsheet. It could also be that I am insane. This particular experience did remind, rather unpleasantly, that I don’t fully understand how nested JSON parsing works. I ended up in the right place but only through about 40 minutes of slamming my head into various walls of misunderstanding. I also need to spend a bit of time applying the DRY concept to this bloated mess.

Custom Fitted WordPress

flickr photo shared by Internet Archive Book Images with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) I’ve been doing a whole lot of WordPress customization lately for really widely varying purposes/people. It has been a lot of fun and it’s an option that I’m not sure has been conveyed well to our faculty. Many times, faculty are looking for a process for students (or one another) that is semi-structured. The students have options but they need help remembering to do certain things (include at least one image, consider these three topics, add a link, etc.) or they need a bit of guidance to help create uniformity of some sort. If you’ve ever asked more than ten people to answer three questions in an email then you know that virtually all the humans fail to follow directions when given the chance.1 You’ll also see the width and depth of human imagination if you ask someone to fill in a text field answering a question you really thought was straight forward.2 There are also concerns about the complexity of WordPress that we can address through custom post types and custom user roles while still allowing for a good deal of flexibility within our established constraints. This interplay of custom fields, custom post types, and usually a custom theme to display the former is probably […]