Translating research from question to query

Earlier this term, I heard from students in Noelwah Netusil’s natural resources economics class. They were hoping I could help them identify how many homes are within the Johnson Creek floodplain.

This is certainly a spatial problem, so using some spatial system — in this case, a GIS* — is a good first step. Another important challenge as researcher is to translate your question into something your analytical tool can understand. Continue reading

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Tool Talk: Creating transparency in images with Preview

Preview, macOS’s built-in image and PDF viewer, has quietly added many useful features over the years. Earlier this year, we blogged about Preview’s PDF annotation tools.

Preview’s Instant Alpha tool allows you to quickly make parts of an image transparent. You could also do this with other more robust (and expensive) software, but having this capability included in a built-in piece of software on the Mac is very useful. One potential use is removing the background from images in order to insert them in documents or posters. Another potential use would be for artwork or photos you want to manipulate digitally.   Continue reading

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New Language Lab website

The Language Lab at Reed has a new website! You can access it at www.reed.edu/language_resources/.

The main page includes links to the drop-in tutoring schedule for foreign languages and a list of media available at the IMC by language.

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Use the menu on the left to find resources for modern languages offered at Reed. A menu for each language provides options for categories of resources, such as typing help and online dictionaries. Continue reading

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An introduction to R, RStudio, and R Markdown with GIFs!

The development of the bookdown package from RStudio in the summer of 2016 has facilitated greatly the ability of educators to create open-source materials for their students to use. It expands to more than just academic settings though and it encourages the sharing of resources and knowledge in a free and reproducible way.

As more and more students and faculty begin to use R in their courses and their research, I wanted to create a resource for the complete beginner to programming and statistics to more easily learn how to work with R. Specifically, the book includes GIF screen recordings that show the reader what specific panes do in RStudio and also the formatting of an R Markdown document and the resulting HTML file.

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Updated R Markdown thesis template

In October of 2015, I released an R Markdown senior thesis template R package and discussed it in the blogpost here. It was well-received by students and faculty that worked with it and this past summer I worked on updating it to make it even nicer for students. The big addition is the ability for students to export their senior thesis to a webpage (example here) and also label and cross-reference figures and tables more easily. These additions and future revisions will be in the new thesisdown package in the spirit of the bookdown package developed and released by RStudio in summer 2016.

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New developments in mobile audio recording at Reed

Welcome to the Fall 2016 semester!

New mobile recording equipment is available to check out for academic or personal recording at the Performing Arts Resource Center (PARC). Possible uses include field recording for classes, analog and/or midi recording of your own music, sampling, editing music, mixing, and mastering. We have enough microphones to record anything from one instrument to an entire band. Documentation is included with all of the equipment. You can also talk to me in the PARC or write me at joejaniga@reed.edu with any questions.

The list after the jump is ordered from entry-level to advanced; your needs will determine the best option for you. Continue reading

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Screencasting Tips

Screenflow is great for screencasting, but this grab bag of tips can be applied to any screencasting scenario (there’s loads of free screencast software on the web as well). Quicktime can also do screencasting. Continue reading

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Reflections on Digital Scholarship Week at Reed

The last week of March was Digital Scholarship Week at Reed. Instructional Technology Services and Library staff, with generous support from the Center for Teaching and Learning, organized the week-long series of events to showcase digital methodologies in research and teaching at Reed. Students and faculty from a variety of disciplines were among the presenters. I enjoyed the way that talking about digital scholarship brought scholars from different disciplines together in one conversation.

As someone with a background in the humanities, one of the questions that interests me is how scholars of the humanities use digital methods, so I was very glad that Dr. Miriam Posner (’01) returned to Reed as part of Digital Scholarship Week. Dr. Posner is a faculty member and coordinator of the Digital Humanities program at UCLA. She holds a Ph.D. from Yale in Film Studies and American Studies. Dr. Posner presented a workshop on visualizing data in the humanities and a lecture on her work on the visual culture of lobotomy in the United States. Continue reading

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Plickers: An excellent alternative to clickers

There has been much coverage in education and instructional technology circles about the use of clickers in the classroom.  Clickers can be an excellent way to look for student understanding of lecture material or outside the classroom reading/flipped content during class.  Eric Mazur, a physicist at Harvard University, is thought by many to be the pioneer of using “just-in-time-teaching” (another name for these classroom response systems and the instruction that goes with them) in science classrooms and has spoken and wrote much about the benefits of this style of teaching.  But these clickers come with some downsides as well that I will address in this blog post.  Additionally, I will discuss a new, cost-effective, superb alternative to clickers called Plickers (paper clickers).

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Tool Talk – Adapter: a three-in-one media conversion tool

There are many media file types that exist for images, audio, and video. A file type that works in one situation make may not work in another. For example, an upload that you need to make might take .png files but not .tiff. Maybe the audio file you are trying to email or upload is too big and you need to compress it. Video files can be particularly problematic due to their size, or perhaps the software you are using accepts only certain formats. The number of possible file types and codecs (technologies for compressing and decompressing files) are seemingly endless and it can be daunting to keep track of this ever-changing landscape. If you don’t want to download multiple apps that facilitate different conversion tasks you can download Adapter and do most everything in one app.

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