My Evolution with 23 Things

The 23 Things workshop has taken me from my cave-dweller style of writing it all by hand into the 21 century with possibilities I had never thought of.  I’ve finally understood what a blog is.  I must confess I had to look it up at the beginning.  I’ve come to see that social media is filled with possibilities for study, linking researchers across the globe.  I’ve discovered reference management tools aw well as tools for mind mapping and organizing information (although I must confess that I spend too much time playing … er, I mean exploring them).  I’ve also learned to stop denigrating Wikipedia as a source, just to check their facts.

In addition to my personal benefits from the 23 Things, I’m hoping to pass it on.  I’ve been teaching research for several years, and I think it’s time to challenge myself and ‘upgrade’ my teaching methods.  My students belong to a generation that has a world of possibilities literally at their fingertips, and the courses they take should make use of it.


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“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,” A Look to Future Researches

Although Macbeth’s words have a gloomy connotation in their context, I’m borrowing them here in a more positive way – the good Things that are just around the corner (pun intended).

Thing 21 asked us to look at future possibilities for research and funding.  Although right now, I’m trying to focus on my current research, that is certainly something worth looking into in the future.  I hadn’t realized the recommended sites existed, but they look like something I will be visiting often in the future.

websites1Thing 22 is all about the benefits of having a personalized website that gives interested parties access to our work, research and qualifications.  It opens doors for us to reach others – to help and be helped.  At the moment, I use the website hosted by my university to keep my students up to date with what is going on in my courses.  I also used LinkedIn for the professional side of life.  After this workshop, I expect to be developing both to include research interests and goals, not just what I’ve already finished.


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Nothing Like Face-to-Face

webinarFor a research to be successful, we also need face-to-face meetings, discussions, editing, and feedback.  Trying to communicate internationally presents its own set of issues involving time differences, international regulations, and Internet signal strength.  I’ve tried video-conferencing, but that isn’t always accessible.  Both parties need to find and schedule a suitable venue and make sure that the Internet signal is working on both ends.  It also limits the number of people that can attend each meeting.

zoomTo be able to hold meetings with professors or supervisors from around the world has become a necessity in today’s research.  The Zoom Cloud Meetings app was suggested to me and it appears to be the magic solution.  I can schedule meetings in advance, include a number of participants in different locations, and record the meetings. I can ‘attend’ classes from the comfort of my own desk, with all my papers and notes at hand.

I haven’t really tried Google Drive, but Dropbox is one of the staples of both research and teaching.  Everything I need is just a click away (provided the Internet is working). It’s a lifesaver when I get a brilliant idea whether at my desk, in my office or during a trip.  I just open the file on whatever device is at hand, type away, and save.  dropbox

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Going Public


I’ve combined Things 15 and 16 with Thing 17 as they seem to form a cycle, feeding each other.  A public that benefits from available research is better enabled to make informed contributions to crowdsourcing.

Trying to find sources for a research degree isn’t always as easy as I imagined it would be.  There are always a few more articles just around the corner.  Having Open Access databases and online libraries as well as the ability to find the measured impact of the source helps in both following that elusive thread and in knowing where to stop and take a different path.

I don’t know (yet) if my research – women in contemporary Arthurian novels – will benefit from crowdsourcing, but, if I’ve learned anything from the 23 Things Workshop, it’s that I don’t know as much as I would like about using alternative sources of knowledge.

Time to don my pith helmet and go off into the hitherto unexplored wilds of the Internet. 'Help me, help me!'

Form and Function:

I’ve been in charge of producing movie clips for our students’ achievements for a while now.  Although I’ve never really tried making a screencast (although now I know how it’s done), I’ve used ProShow to create video from a collection of photographs.


I downloaded Tableau to see how it works, but I don’t know (yet) that graphs are what I will need in my field – literature. It’s ripe for experimenting, though.  What I’ve found more useful for me is mind mapping.  I’ve been experimenting with a number of apps such as MindMeister to help me organize my thoughts – comparing similar characters across different titles and authors.  I can see how that might later translate into something shareable like Prezi.

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Note: After a good deal of searching and experimenting – See Five Best Mind Mapping Tools, I’ve concluded that The Brain appears to be the most useful mind mapping app for what I need.  It maps the different concepts I’m focusing on, allows me to attach documents and images and to make connections between ideas that look like they belong in separate categories, but overlap in some areas.

What’s Wrong with Wikipedia? Or, New Year’s Resolution for 2017

I teach Research Methods to undergrads, and part of the course is to make sure they avoid Wikipedia.  I was a firm follower of the idea, and I was certainly not alone.  I entered “using Wikipedia as a source” in a search and came up with 244,000,000 results – much like the photos above.  Sadly, the first result on the list was Wikipedia’s own page warning against using it in research.

RDP has just opened my eyes to how incorrect this generalization is, how, instead of avoiding it like the plague, Wikipedia should be looked at as a base or a starting-point for further research.

Having avoided Wikipedia while doing my own reading, I went back and took another look at the topics it has to offer in my field.  I found that one article included 181 references and 13 “Further Reading” suggestions.

The ‘Talk’ tab included a rather insightful discussion on the focus and limitations of the article itself – giving me more to think about – as well as suggestions, justification, responses and even modification of the references.

New Year’s Resolution for 2017: Do not denigrate Wikipedia as an inaccurate source.  Instead, learn to use it properly and teach the new groups of students the correct way to handle the information it presents.

Note to self: stop clicking on every link within an article.  You will never remember what you started to do 😉

As for podcasts, I had never thought of them as educational before.  I now have a list to listen to as soon as possible.  I also have an extensive list of MOOCs that I am planning on joining … I wonder when I’ll get back to research.  This is much more fun. Oh! I mean educational.


Image credit: Know Your Meme “I Have Done Nothing Productive All Day – Image #722, 788” (

Reference Management Tools

To be honest, I’m a relatively late-starter in the field of post-graduate academia.  My preferred ‘search engine’ still begins with books, my favorite reference app is still index cards and handwriting is still a necessity – at least for the first draft.  As a hands-on person, I like to be able to touch the cards and arrange them like a puzzle on the floor in order to see the ‘flow’ of ideas.

There’s also a sense of achievement in seeing the words pouring from the pen onto a previously-white page (please disregard the cat doodles).  However, time – and technology – wait for no one, and I must open myself to exploring new, more efficient ways of doing the work.

kindleI do most of my reading on Kindle, making Evernote my favorite referencing app which allows me to import my notes and highlights. The Evernote site and the Kindle Highlights Blog give clear how-to instructions to move the notes and highlights from Kindle to Evernote.     A little formatting on Word and, voila, instant index cards, citations and all.  Evernote is also very useful in that it’s mostly free and has the capability to sync between devices.  It also allows the user to create notebooks and sub-notebooks to organize information.

evernote_logo_center_4c-lrgThanks to the push from RDP, I started looking around to see what I can do to make life easier (or at least, neater) for research and writing.  I discovered that Kindle notes and highlights can be imported to Evernote (referencing tool), then directly to Scrivener (writing tool).  Two videos – on Youtube and Vimeo give clear directions on how to export from Evernote to Scrivener.  I assume there might be an easier way to import highlights, but for now, I’m happy.

scrivener-iconScrivener, on the other hand, seems to be a great writing tool (I’ll need to do a little more exploring, though).  The user has the ability to save different notes as index cards in folders, offers a split screen to both write and search references at the same time, as well as arranging work in different formats: corkboard, outline, full screen, etc…  Apparently, Scrivener also helps in creating a copyright page and table of contents – but I haven’t tested that out yet.  My favorite item in Scrivener so far is the project tracker.  I am the kind of person who needs deadlines to keep on track when working.  The project tracker takes your completion date and number words expected in the final draft, then sets a writing schedule to be followed.