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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Tool Talk: Soundflower for routing audio

In this tutorial I am going to show you how to route your computer’s system audio output into a piece of audio recording software.  Some potential situations that you would want to do this for would be as follows. What if you needed to record the audio from a Skype or FaceTime session? Or you wanted to do some creative re-sampling of a piece of audio? Maybe you want to record something from the web like Tone Generator (a frequency generation tool only available on the web), like a student and I did for RAW (Reed Arts Week) recently. You could also use it for a live situation where you wanted to capture everything you did on your computer.

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Digital Scholarship Week at Reed

Across Reed’s campus, students and faculty are using digital tools to produce scholarship in a variety of disciplines. But there are many of us who wonder what “digital scholarship” means, or want to know more about digital tools and their use in teaching and research or how data relates to the humanities, or are curious about how Open Access affects scholarship in different disciplines. Continue reading

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Annotating PDFs in Preview and Adobe Acrobat Reader

Annotation, or adding notes directly to texts, is an important part of scholarly work. Many of us learned to annotate using some old-school tools: pencils, highlighters, maybe sticky notes to physically “tag” our books. As more and more texts are available online, however, tools for rich annotation of online and digital texts have evolved to allow readers to highlight and take notes on digital texts and webpages. This blog post starts with the basics. In it, you’ll learn how to annotate PDFs using apps you probably already have installed on your computer. It’s the first in a series, so look for future posts to cover other note taking and annotation apps. Continue reading

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