At a glance an external reviewer can see which assessment techniques are used most frequently.
Another form of visual representation shows the network between courses and assessment methods. Frequently used methods form a central core, while more unique assessments are peripheral.
Assessment Network Diagram
Another set of data records the intended learning outcomes for a course, as reported by the instructor. These are often in sentence form, and so cannot be analyzed in the same way. The most frequently occurring terms and phrases, however, can be seen in the following image:
In our final workshop on May 25th, we will be exploring a number of tools that can be used to analyze text at a large scale, a task for which computers are uniquely suited. In his book Graphs, Maps, Trees, Franco Moretti coined the term “distant reading” to describe analysis that uses a computer to quantify text in order to see trends on a global scale that are not visible through close reading. There are many examples of this type of work. Patricia Cohen at the New York Times provides a thorough introduction and overview of the concept and mentions a number of examples.
We will focus on two tools that offer a number of options for graphing, revealing, and analyzing texts. The first is Voyant Tools, which displays results through text and displays statistical information for a text. The other is IBM’s ManyEyes, which provides numerous visualization options to best highlight the important trends in a work. The trick with these tools, as with many others, is experimenting. Upload a text and see what results you can draw out, especially by using different types of visualization in ManyEyes.
The results of distant reading are no substitute for close reading, but can open up the text to uncover larger themes and trends.
Friday’s workshop focuses on Scrivener, a writing tool designed to emphasize writing and leave formatting until the end of the process. For anyone interested in attending, please download and install the free trial of Scrivener so that you can begin to explore its functions and decide whether it is right for you. Feel free to invite anyone you think would benefit from these workshops.
We had our highest turnout on Wednesday and I’m hoping we repeat that success. Thank you to all our participants for your diligence and continued enthusiasm. Videos from the previous workshops will soon be available. Thank you for your patience.
The second workshop this week focuses on Scrivener, a unique composition tool that has potential to improve writing workflows and project management. Unlike Microsoft Word or OpenOffice, Scrivener was designed not for word processing, but for writing. It emphasizes the needs of a writer, academic or otherwise, and eliminates many unnecessary distractions.
I can offer one prime example of Scrivener’s immense value: in April 2012, I was an editor for the Brock University Creative Writers’ Club and was working to compile our members’ writing to publish in our yearly anthology. The other committee members worked tirelessly to edit the submissions while I collected and formatted them with Scrivener. Although the software was not designed for that purpose, we managed to input, format, and create a publishable book in less than eight hours. Scrivener afforded me enough control to create what we needed and is simple to use once you explore its abilities.
In conclusion, if you plan on writing in the future or have a collection of research material that consumes physical space with gusto, attend our workshops this week. We’ll demonstrate a method for improving your workflow, efficiency, and productivity. Or your money back.*
A schedule of the workshops can be found here. All are welcome to attend.
Last week, we hosted the first two workshops, in which we demonstrated Dropbox, Evernote, RSS feeds, and Google Reader.