Tag Archives: Writing

Open Thread Wednesday: Solutions for Tracking Projects

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Pretty much everything we do in academic publishing has a deadline, whether it’s the date for an abstract or paper submission to a call for proposals, the next big national grant deadline, a personal goal for a thesis or book manuscript, or a contract from a publisher. Since most of us have multiple (if not dozens, or more!) projects going at once with competing deadlines, keeping track of everything in the pipeline can be a big task. Deadlines on the calendar are helpful, but also often closer than they appear, and easy to ignore until they sneak up into a work week.

We’re really at a point where we have too many options for how to handle the  challenges of tracking our progress on projects: there are tons of robust digital applications as well as classic planners and note-taking systems available. Given this choice overload, how do you handle your project tracking?

I’ve tried tons of solutions for keeping up with deadlines myself. My current system is fairly simple: I use a paper-based planner, the Blue Sky “Day Designer,” which I love because it divides every day into scheduled appointments and tasks, with a calendar view for every month. I sketch out my tasks for the week every Sunday based on checking in to my master projects document, which lives in Google Drive where I can easily share it with my frequent collaborators.

That document, as shown above, is simply a table: every project has a title, status, and next deadline. Projects in gray are complete other than minor editorial tasks (like a book or chapter where the manuscript has been submitted and is awaiting copy-edits or indexing), projects in black are ongoing, and projects in italics are currently on hold while I wait for editors or co-authors to contribute.  Projects in bold are the ones with impending deadlines, or anything with less than a month to go. It’s very straightforward, but it does require ongoing maintenance, particularly since I’m not using anything fancy that could automatically warn me of pending deadlines. I never cycle anything off the list until it is actually published, as that’s when it goes on my CV, tenure dossier, and website.

There are lots of more complex systems out there for managing projects. Ryan Straight described his process of digitizing a workflow using LiquidPlanner, which I admit looks awesome but also like a lot of work. (I’ve had similar problems with other popular solutions, like Bullet Journals. These seem great for a system of organization and particularly tracking progress over time, but I lasted about three days.) Erin Furtak wrote recently about tracking writing productivity and made several suggestions of status categories, including early stage brainstorming and data collection, which can be particularly helpful if you are someone who starts a lot of things at once.

What’s your project tracking strategy? Share it in the comments!

Establishing a Writing Community in the College Classroom

When I hear the words “writing community,” my mind conjures up an elementary school classroom. I picture the warm, fuzzy second grade teacher wearing a warm, fuzzy sweater, handing out stickers and cookies as the students prepare for an authors’ tea. At this special event, parents will make the appropriate cooing sounds as their small children enthusiastically share their writing within the classroom.Read more Establishing a Writing Community in the College Classroom ›

Source: Establishing a Writing Community in the College Classroom

Peer Assessment that Improves Performance in Groups

Peer assessment in groups has been shown to effectively address a number of group process issues, but only if the peer assessment has a formative component. Many studies have shown that if peer assessment is used at the end of a group project, group members will punish their dysfunctional members—those who didn’t do work, didn’t turn work in on time, didn’t come to meetings, and didn’t do quality work—but they won’t confront those group members when they commit those dysfunctional behaviors. After-the-fact peer assessment gives the teacher input on who did and didn’t contribute in the group, but it doesn’t change what happened in that group or help students learn how to confront group member problems when they emerge.

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