The Digital Professor is Moving

I’ve decided to move this blog to my web hosted site at

Updating this location has been suspended. The move is largely to avoid the advertising that appears on this site.




What’s Wrong With Education?

simpkins_hallPandoDaily, a blog devoted to entreprenuerism on the Internet, turns its journalistic  microscope on online education . The first post in the series, “The promise (and refreshingly low hype) of online education” by editor-in-chief Sarah Lacey points out,
“a lot of the biggest VCs have cautiously picked and chosen winners, making some big bets in this space. Some are on the tool and app side, and some are aimed squarely at solving the big problems.”
“Which big problem? Pick one. High school and elementary school are broken. College is broken. There’s a major distribution problem that the Internet is finally poised to revolutionize, and there are renewed calls to rethink basic vocational training.”
The hype has been anything but “low” for us in the education community.
 The second post, “What’s Wrong With Education?“, cobbles together clips from interviews with well-known Internet entrepreneurs and investors. Here are a few quotes that wrung a bell with me:
Peter Theil (Investor/Co-founder of PayPal): “The amount of money that has been spent on it is really high, the output is really low…. putting less money into it might be a good idea.”
Brian Chesky (Airbnb CEO) : “The way schools are going to work in the future is that they ail be much more remote, and much more in the field. So the lab is going to be labs all over the world. … you’re not limited to your campus. .. Why are schools building buildings? … That seems like a really bad thing to invest in.”
Sophia Amoruso (Nasty Gal CEO) : “There’s like free education all over the Internet. … If I’m worried about something, or think I don’t understand it, there’s a lot of ways to learn about stuff without going out and schmoozing and hoping someone answers your call.”
 Chad Dickerson (Etsy CEO) : “I believe liberal arts education is as important, maybe more important than math and science education. When you’re designing software you need more empathy for the person you’re designing the software for, you need to understand how people think and how they live. Knowing calculus doesn’t help you with that.
I’ll be following this series, you might find it of interest as well.

Building Community, Changing Culture: Ken Foote

I encourage geography educators in higher education to check out Ken Foote’s 2012 Past President Address: Building Community, Changing Culture”. I’ve had the honor of working with Ken and am always inspired by his work. Ken’s address focuses “on issues vital to sustaining and expanding geography’s role in science and society: building a strong sense of community and changing our disciplinary culture in ways that respond to changing opportunities and challenges.”

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2010. That’s about 8 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 21 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 66 posts. There were 15 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was December 1st with 41 views. The most popular post that day was Do Students Really Prefer Print Textbooks?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for typing, newspaper icon, laptop, newspaper, and student laptop.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Do Students Really Prefer Print Textbooks? December 2010
1 comment


Does the Internet Make Students Better Writers? June 2009


Replacing the Lecture: Experimenting with the Hybrid Course model October 2010


Murdoch’s proposed Google ban is a threat to academics too. November 2009


Yoono sidebar versus Flock – does one need a social browser? June 2009
3 comments and 1 Like on,

The Twitter Times, Your Personalized Newspaper

twitter_times1One of the advantages of turning away from old media and analog sources of news and towards digital is the ability to filter news that’s important to you. I’ve done this by subscribing to particular RSS feeds from newspapers, organizations, and blogs that keep me updated through widgets placed on my iGoogle personal web page. But more recently I’ve turned to Twitter to keep me up-to-date with issues that I’m most interested in. Instead of the “I’m out having pizza” tweets, the people I follow are posting links to news articles and offering up tips important to my work as a professor. The problem I’ve found is that once I went beyond following fifty people, my Twitter stream became unmanageable and frankly, a bit distracting. I’ve used search to hone in on important topics, but this narrows my choices a bit too much. I’d like to a better way to get a overview of what the people in my Twitter network are posting. Enter The Twitter Times.


The Twitter Times is your “real-time personalized newspaper generated from your Twitter account”. Twitter Times searches through the people you follow on Twitter, finds the links in their tweets, then publishes them as a custom “newspaper”. Time sensitive content appears in the main “What’s Hot” column and bigger trending stories on the right side of the page in the “Top News History” column . Clicking the headline sends you to the original site or  you can clicking the “show all text” button to expand the article in line.   A retweet button is also provided. Though it’s billed as a “real-time” newspaper, the content is updated once an hour.  You can also  read other user’s newspapers. Give Twitter Times a try.

Murdoch’s proposed Google ban is a threat to academics too.

newspaper_iconSeveral content publishers, especially newspaper, are discussing moving away from free online access to paid content.  In a recent interview, NewsCorp owner Rupert Murdoch went so far as to threatened to block Google from accessing his properties like the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Let me say at right now that I am a big fan of Google and use many of its services.  Several newspaper publishers have been in a long standing row with Google over its aggregating content to display on its Google News pages without “paying” for it. These companies reap plenty of benefit from their relationship with Google. Google’s news page displays a short teaser but links directly to the originating site driving traffic and potential eyes to newspaper advertisers. To cut this cord, not only threatens the newspapers potential ad revenue, but for academics, it walls off a potential source of information for research and teaching.

Getting fairly compensated for one’s work, whether it’s a newspaper or an academic is indeed important. But removing access to search for potential content, or limiting which search service gets to access it, is a form a censorship. Academics who use online news should watch this debate very closely. To censor search engine access to important news poses a threat to our ability to do our work.

Digital Professor Podcast: Yoono

Simplify Your Life with Yoono is the topic of my latest podcast. In it I cover several of the basic features and leave you to explore the rest. Yoono is one of the best Firefox sidebars I’ve ever used.

It’s available on the web here and in the iTunes store.

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