Saturday, October 15, 2011

Computer Skills for Aspiring Professionals

Many have asked why a Women's Studies program should include a course teaching computer skills and Web tools.  Aren't today's students already familiar with Microsoft Office and masters of the Web?  While students are definitely adept users of Facebook, most seem to lack experience with web tools more relevant to their future employment.  Few of my students have heard of, let alone know how to use, web tools such as:
  • Blogs - used by many nonprofits, advocacy groups, and businesses
  • Social bookmarking sites like Delicious - a handy research and networking tool
  • RSS Readers or Start Pages -  to aggregate recent articles and blog entries in specified topics, very useful for keeping up-to-date with latest developments in your field
  • Social media like Facebook and Twitter -  for professional networking and the promotion of social causes
While all students regularly use Word to compose essay assignments, few know how to use Heading Styles to provide a handy navigation aid for a long report (think of preparing quarterly sales reports or annual summaries of activities at a nonprofit agency).  All have prepared PowerPoints for class, but few have a clue about avoiding "death by PowerPoint" (avoid the same boring Microsoft templates, more single images & less bulleted text).

With so few job openings and so many candidates, students who can demonstrate some of the above skills provide added value to employers and are more likely to be successful in their job search. 

The skills described above are also useful for active citizenship, whether students only desire to be well-informed voters or intend to be participants in advocacy groups, political parties or trade unions.

It is not only WS majors who would profit from acquiring these computer and web skills; they are equally relevant for gerontology students, aspiring social workers, sociology and other liberal arts majors.  Perhaps social service programs and liberal arts departments should consider combining to offer a "Computer Skills for Aspiring Professionals" course to their students.

Resources and Examples:

Demise of Women & Computers course

I will no longer be teaching the Women and Computers course at my university; it has been dropped from the Women's Studies Major.  The WS Program wanted to strengthen its international perspectives and decided to require all majors to complete a course in Transnational Feminism.  There is a practical limit to the number of required courses, so something had to be dropped.  Certainly we would not want to drop Feminist Theory or Research Methods, so Women and Computers was eliminated.  Hard to argue with prioritizing Transnational Feminism over Women and Computers, although I believe the skills taught are a valuable addition to a student's future employment and activist tool kit.

I haven't yet decided exactly what I will do instead.  For the present, I will continue this blog, expanding the coverage somewhat to encompass computer and web skills in the classroom, web tools for activists, and gender perspectives on computing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Final Projects: Intersexuality using GoAnimate

Another student had done a lot of research on intersexuality, but wanted to present the information in a non-academic manner that might reach more of a general audience.  She chose to use to create her "movies."  Since free movies are limited to under 2 minutes at GoAnimate, she had to create two movies to cover all the material. Intersexuality Part I by ashleemoz23

Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!
Intersexuality Part 2 Intersexuality Part II by ashleemoz23

Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!

Final Projects: "Hooking Up" at Xtranormal

For their final projects, students were asked to create something of use beyond the classroom.  Many chose to create educational projects using visual media.  One student explored the phenomenon of "hooking up" using's free movie making facility  (pictorial backgrounds and characters provided, you add the dialog via typing).

Here I have used the Embed Code from, but one can also upload the "movies" one creates at Xtranormal to YouTube - useful on websites that only embed YouTube videos.

What is hooking up?
by: ware0701

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sex Trafficking in Nepal via GoAnimate

Students have been experimenting with many different Web tools, including and - both of which allow you to create "videos" by choosing from the backgrounds and characters they provide.  You type the text you want the characters to speak.

There are limitations on what you can do with the free tool.  At Go Animate, length is severely limited so student has to make 3 separate videos.  I discovered that I could combine them into one movie using the free Debut Video Capture which I downloaded and installed.  Then I could capture each of the student's videos while they were playing and use Windows Movie Maker to combine them into one movie, which I then uploaded to YouTube.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Sad Commentary on our Schools

This poster from The Jose Vilson Blog dramatizes the lock-step, rote education that is only being made worse by No Child Left Behind.

A third grade teacher from Oregon explains in detail why all the recent budget cuts, teach to test pressures, etc. have driven her to retire. This article, while long, explains clearly the evolution of her creative, learning-inspiring, classroom to the daily drudgery of rote learning and how are schools are becoming even worse, educationally speaking.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Are Blogs the New Zines?

Kerri_eLLe wrote an interesting post on this topic. Check it out. Do you agree that the feminist movement lost something in the move from zines to blogs?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Embed Flickr Photo with Proper Attribution

One can easily paste the URL of a photo at Flickr into the window provided when one clicks the Add Photo icon in Blogger.  But is that the best way to add a photo?  One should always provide information about the photographer and the Creative Commons license which allows one to use the photo legally.  And this simple copy/paste method does not.  It is better to use the Embed code provided by Flickr.

At on the main page displaying a photo, one can click the Share button and choose Grab the HTML code.  Then back in Blogger, where you are creating your post, switch to the Edit HTML view.  Then Paste in the code provided at Flickr. The resulting photo will provide some attribution.  One can hover one's mouse over the photo to get basic info.  One can also click to go to the original Flickr page to get more information about the exact Creative Commons license.  Below is a test with the same flower picture in previous post.

Stella d'Oro Daylilly - Long Blooming

This result appears to be the same as if one had used the Add Photo icon when composing a post in Blogger and then just pasted in the URL of the small size display page (  But note that using the Share > Grab HTML method provides a link back to Flickr (as Flickr requests that one do) - by clicking on the photo.

If one does use the simple Copy URL and Paste into Add Photo window, one should at least provide some attribution and a link back to Flickr, for example,

      Photo courtesy of cronegeek at Flickr 
      under Creative Commons License 2.0

Note a similar formulation can be used for Photos from other sites.

Proper Attribution for Creative Commons Photos

It is easy to find photos with a Creative Commons license which allow one to legally use the photos in blogs and on Websites, etc.  But how does one give proper credit and document that one has legal permission to use?

After much research, it appears that at minimum, one should indicate the photographer, the Creative Commons license and link to page where found and/or photographer's profile page on Flickr.  So the minimum attribution for the photo below from Flickr would be   Photo used under Creative Commons license from cronegeek.  (Note Flickr wants one to provide a link back to Flickr. And many other web sites also want you to provide a link back to page where photo appears.)

Alternatively, when working with Flickr photos, one can use the app at to produce a photo with the attribution at the bottom as seen below.  [For this photo I displayed the small size at Flickr and then input the URL for the small size page into]

On the Get Code page at there is a button that you can drag to the toolbar on your Web browser for instant access to Imagecodr..

To search for images with a Creative Commons license one can go to
  • where you can conduct searches from Google Images, Flickr, and other places and have your results limited to only images with Creative Commons license. You can also specify whether you want images that can be modified (legally) and/or used commercially (legally).
  • which also searches just Flickr, but tends to give more images than either of the sites above. 
Updated 1/26/17 to use newer, current ImageCodr attribution code.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

RSS Widget in Blog Post?

Just testing here to see if possible to put an RSS Feed widget in a blog post.  I got this RSS feed widget from one of Suzie Vesper's educational technology wikis - the page where she talks about her blog and has a news feed widget.  I clicked "Get this Widget" at bottom and copied the Embed Code here.  I presume that I get to specify what blog to feed from - No, get feed of Suzie Vesper's blog.  I guess have to go someplace else on Web to get this form of Widget and be able to specify feed of blog of choice.  I note this is a Javascript widget.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Why Women Don't Write for Wikipedia, etc.

Last week's assignment on the Digital Divide focused on exploring alternative search engines by entering the same search term in each.  One student, using the search term  digital divide gender  at the social bookmarking site uncovered a Jan. 31, 2011 New York Times article "Wikipedia Ponders Its Gender-Skewed Contributions."  The article reported that less than 15% of the contributors to Wikipedia are women and explored possible explanations.  The author interviewed Jane Margolis (who has done wonderful work on institutional sexism and racism in computer science classes) who opined that women are less willing to assert their opinions in public. 

Little mention was made of WHY women might be less willing to assert their opinions in public.  The cartoonist Gabby fills in some of these blanks.  In the excerpt below from Gabby's much longer cartoon, we see the all-too-common reaction women experience when they do assert their opinions in a male dominated blogosphere.

See also the post "I’m a woman, and I’ve edited Wikipedia" on the Geek Feminism blog of 2/11/11 and the many comments by women who formerly contributed to Wikipedia but left in response to what they perceived as an unwelcoming environment.

A full size wall poster of Gabby's entire cartoon (6.75″ wide by 43″ long on rich matte cardstock) can be ordered here.  Gabby's comic books (written under the name Ken Dahl) can be purchased from Microcosm Publishing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Boys are Like Microwaves

Need a good laugh?  Check out this video.  Based on actual lessons from an Abstinence Education course.  The video can be found on YouTube.

I showed in class on Feb. 16 as illustration of the free online tool which allows anyone to create a "movie" by choosing from small selection of characters (has some people as well as these bears) and typing in the dialog.  The website converts into a spoken "movie."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Comic Books & Social Action: Egypt

In class we have been talking about using cartoons and comic books as a medium for reaching a larger audience with feminist points of view.  Imagine my surprise when today's email provided a link to Egyptian Activists Inspired by Forgotten Martin Luther King Comic, which tells how an Arabic translation of a 1958 comic book about Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Bus Boycott has inspired nonviolent action around the Middle East.  The comic book was originally translated into Arabic in 2008 by the American Islamic Congress (and later into Farsi).  Over 2000 copies have been distributed.  And Dalia Ziada, the Egyptian Director of the AIC, distributed more copies in Tahrir Square during the recent demonstrations in Egypt.

The comic book can be viewed in the original English, in Arabic, and in Farsi here.

[Updated 10/8/16 to supply updated links - URLs have changed since I originally wrote this post.]

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fourth Wave Feminism - Learning from Students

One of the reasons I enjoy teaching this class so much is the opportunity it provides to learn so much more - about feminism and about computers.  When discussing a video interview with a Lebanese activist in her blog, one of my students raised the issue of Fourth Wave feminism - which I had never heard of before.

Fourth Wave feminism "is made of online bloggers and internet communities. We are the most inclusive movement yet, and we understand that all oppression is connected. We believe that my liberation is tightly tied to your liberation. We aren’t just fighting to end sexism; we’re fighting to end racism, classism, ableism, body shaming, cissexism, heterosexism, and other harmful -isms." says a blogger on Tumblr.

As my student said in her blog, how can Fourth Wave feminism boast of its inclusivity if it is limited to those who are using the Internet.  Internet access is very limited for women in Lebanon and elsewhere.

On a side note, how is a person supposed to understand Tumblr?  I have to get some more explanations from my students.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Learning Styles Discussed 1st Class Period

Tried something new this year on first night of class - beginning with a discussion of learning styles and educational philosophy. We started by looking at portions of Can You Picture This in which art professor Rachel Williams conveys her ideas about making research on women in prison accessible to "the woman on the street" via a comics format. Students had wildly different responses - ranging from "I love this medium" to "too difficult to comprehend". Great discussion of visual learning styles; for what audiences this comics medium might be particularly appropriate; whether feminist scholars have a duty to make their work accessible to non-academic types; and much more.

I also showed the video The Networked Student which focuses on self-directed learning using various Web tools from blogs to RSS feeds to Skype. Several students said that while they could see this approach to learning had merit, personally they preferred the more traditional lecture by professor plus assigned textbook approach. Others related positive experiences they had with this self-directed approach in the past. We discussed that while the traditional lecture/textbook method might cover material more quickly and efficiently, the self-directed approach might result in deeper learning. Many were excited by the possibility that a course built around this approach would probably entail a lot of student choice in what they studied.

Whether just by chance or as a result of beginning this way, students this semester seem really into learning.

Videos: Do Students Really Prefer Them?

I was surprised at the reaction of many of my students to the video The Networked Student. Many said they found all the animation distracting, including some who identified themselves as "visual learners." Students said they had to watch the video two or three times to really take in the content and would have found a text format preferable. True, the video was created in the Common Craft** format where a hand is frequently removing a piece of paper and placing another one on the display board. Perhaps a video created in a different format would not have provoked this "it's so distracting" reaction.

**Common Craft is famous for its Blogs in Plain English, RSS in Plain English, Podcasting in Plain English, and many similar type videos.