My colleague Helen Cho has had enough with travelling with poster tubes to academic conferences. She’s decided to instead have her poster printed on fabric, something that can be easily transported in her carry-on bag. In helping her figure out the best way to do this, I found the following review from the American Society for Cell Biology. In anthropology, we don’t use or value posters as much as we should, so the best source of advice could be found among the scientists who do value posters for academic presentations.
If you’re not looking forward to the prospect of traveling with a giant cardboard tube, yet you’re reluctant to return to the days of the multiple-panel poster, consider printing on fabric.
Jessica Polka recommends a service called Spoonflower. She suggests using a performance knit that brings out colors and has good wrinkle-resistance. In 2013 prices, she finds the cost of a 36″ x 58″ poster (including shipping) with a 10 calendar day return time is $25.00 (2014 Update: prices haven’t changed in a year, $24.60 with shipping).
This looks like a much better alternative to paper posters. With all the poster presentations that students have done over the years, my office is covered with rolls of paper. With polyester knit, I can maybe make shirts or other clothing with old posters!
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or do they?
Many of us academics are struggling with what to do with the internet, in our teaching, learning, and research. There are many resources out there, in terms of organizations that push academic frontiers for open source journals, new methods of teaching and research, and proponents and opponents of MOOC‘s, OER‘s, LMS‘s, and other acronyms. Here’s another educational buzzword for you – lifelong learning, or even better – the lifelong learning locker.
The L4 would be an adaptive learning management system. The purpose of this system would be to select educational content based on individual learning styles and observed learning behaviors. Unlike other learning systems with a similar goal, this system will be customizable and adaptive—becoming uniquely personalized and tailored for the user. This learning system will be the optimal teaching interface, by adapting to the user’s individual learning style, interests, and current skill level in that subject.
The National Academies Press (NAP), publishers of the proceedings above, is itself a good resource for lifelong learning since everything is free (electronic copies, that is). NAP publishes reports from the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council – what people in the social sciences call a GONGO (government-organized non-governmental organization). (Here’s a link to the entry in wikipedia, another lifelong learning resource).
For lifelong learning to be attainable and widespread, the knowledge produced by academia must be accessible – open to people who are searching for it. This is the goal of many academic groups that promote “open access” – the capability to read journals and books that are many times produced with the unpaid labor of academics.
Subscriptions limit access to scientific knowledge. And when careers are made and tenures earned by publishing in prestigious journals, then sharing datasets, collaborating with other scientists, and crowdsourcing difficult problems are all disincentivized. Following 17th century practices, open science advocates insist, limits the progress of science in the 21st.
While open access is laudable, open methods are even more critical for lifelong learning. Here is where another ‘open’ is vital – open source software.
In later posts, I will overview a number of open methods that students of all kinds can explore. In the meanwhile, here are a number of links that say more about open access and open methods.
- The Digital Anthropology Group (DANG), an interest group within the American Anthropological Association.
- Open access, scholarship, and digital anthropology (Daniel Miller).
I made my students in all my classes this semester learn WordPress this semester, and devoted a considerable chunk of their writing for the class to weekly posts. Now why should students at a liberal arts college learn such technology? First, WordPress is open-source, web-based software; this translates to students have access to it all the time, even after they graduate. Second, WordPress is most useful in managing websites with multiple authors – it is a recognizable standard outside of academia that is used to construct 22% of websites on the internet. Third, it is relatively easy to learn – people (even college faculty!) can quickly construct and manage a WordPress site (for free on WordPress.com) without learning any coding.
In Argyll, Scotland, 9 year old Martha Payne wanted to showcase her school lunches, and so started a site in 2009 that featured pictures and commentary on her food; I guess she was 6 at the time, and must have had help from her Dad! Her blog, Never Seconds, has become an international hit, with over one million hits. Now she also features school lunches from all over the world, as fans send her pictures of their own school lunches.
I don’t think any of our websites from my community-based learning food and culture class this past spring will be able to match Payne’s achievement. Maybe she’ll come to Davidson. Thanks Victoria for sending me the link.
Anthropologists, historians, and scholars of many disciplines have long used personal correspondences as vital sources of data, especially of times and places where we can no longer interview or do participant-observation. With cyberspace, such possibilities have expanded, as can be seen in this digital archive of the Japanese 2011 (or 311) disaster.
Historically, there are still many good sources that reveal the personal insights of everyday people; these insights are crucial in truly understanding the impact of historical events and practices. Here is one website (Letters of Note) that features these everyday commentaries from the perspective of personal letters.
Andrew Ma emailed me this link to a letter written by an emancipated slave to his former master. It powerfully reveals much of what happened during slavery. I’m amazed that the former master even asked his former slave to come back to Tennessee to work (albeit for wages), and I’m even more amazed at the tone Mr. Anderson took in his response.
It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.
I’m left curious as to how the former master reacted after reading the letter. Here’s how Mr. Anderson closed the letter – in a subtle yet powerful damnation of the whole issue.
Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.
From your old servant,