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How to Make Yale Facebook Even Better

by Emmanuel Quartey

photo credit: susanvg via photo pin cc

In a recent post, I criticized the Yale Facebook site (a web app that allows students to look up information about their classmates) for looking like it hadn’t been updated since the early 90s. It seems like someone was thinking the same thing. Barely 3 days after the post went up, Yale Facebook has been given a gorgeous facelift. It’s easier on the eye, and the functionality is much improved. Here’s an idea to make it even better: evolve it from a simple student directory, into a tool for facilitating student collaboration.

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Inside a Yale Summer Session Online Class

by Emmanuel Quartey

We recently interviewed Richard Collins (Yale Summer Session Online Manager), who told us all about how students will be able to take Yale courses online for credit this summer. This video gives you an inside view of what an online class actually looks like.

Want to connect with Wires Crossed? Follow us @wires_crossed or email us at wirescrossedblog@gmail.com.

More posts by Emmanuel.

PROFILE: Susan Gibbons (University Librarian, Yale University)

by Emmanuel Quartey

Susan Gibbon has only been University Librarian for under a year, but she has quickly made her presence felt with a series of events and study breaks aimed at familiarizing Yalies with the resources available to them, and introducing them to the custodians of Yale’s famed collections.

In the following interview, Gibbons explains:

  • How the Library is incorporating eBooks into its collection.
  • What is missing from the Open Access Journal debate.
  • Why Yale alums now have access to JSTOR.
  • Why the Library is rethinking its website.
  • How the Orbis (application that lets you search the library catalog) interface will evolve.
  • The motivation for the creation of the brand new Center for Science and Social Science Information
  • Why the Library is now more active on social media channels.

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PROFILE: Diana E. E. Kleiner, Founding Project Director and Principal Investigator, Open Yale Courses

by Emmanuel Quartey

Diana E.E. Kleiner, Founding Project Director and Principal Investigator, Open Yale Courses; Dunham Professor of History of Art and Classics, Yale University.

If you’re curious about the changing nature of higher-ed, you absolutely can’t afford to miss this fantastic interview with, Diana E.E. Kleiner as she discusses the lessons learned from spearheading the Open Yale Courses project. Near the end, she also hints at a fascinating new initiative from OYC.

This post is particularly topical because OYC announced the addition of SEVEN new courses today, which coincides with the publication of the first three books in The Open Yale Courses Series - the result of a collaboration between OYC and the Yale University Press!

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What do we mean by “eTextbooks”?

by Emmanuel Quartey

photo credit: Stanford EdTech via photopin cc

This post is the result of three things.

Firstly, after years of watching from the sidelines, I’m using DC Comics’ massive reboot as an opportunity to get into comics for the first time. As part of the reboot (all DC titles are reverting to issue #1), the digital versions of the comics go out on the same day that physical versions hit the stores, so I’m following the Justice League, Green Lantern and Aquaman on my iPad (you can do the same through Comixology).

Secondly, I read this old Brain Pickings round-up of 10 great examples of graphic non-fiction. These are books which discuss serious issues (the aftermath of Katrina, a biography of the Dalai Lama) through the medium of sequential art.

Brooke Gladstone’s “The Influencing Machine” is a graphic novel that explains the history of the media.

Finally, I stumbled on Smarter Comics, which provides comics versions of works like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Machiavelli’s The Prince and Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail.

It all got me thinking about different ways of learning, and how mobile devices might evolve into massively popular, viable learning tools.

From what I can gather, it seems that when people talk about disrupting the textbook market, they’re essentially talking about taking the same content and putting it on a screen. This lack of imagination is absent in other discussions about the future of books. Craig Mod's fantastic essays on the future of publishing should be required reading for anyone who cares about words (you should start with Books in the Age of the iPad) and Wired magazine’s iPad app has been applauded for being a truly multimedia experience. All this, and yet when it comes to textbooks, we seem unable to do more than wish that all our ConLaw books came in one huge PDF.

While we’re rethinking the nature of textbooks, why don’t we go ahead and question whether acres of text is actually the most effective way to convey information in a memorable way?

I imagine that some subjects lend themselves to being taught through prose rather than other media, but I truly believe that if we allowed ourselves to think beyond prose, we could hit on some very interesting learning solutions. What does it mean for the next chapter of your microecon textbook to be in the form of a massively multiplayer online game? What happens when the next unit of orgo chem is a choose-your-own adventure story? 

Maybe I’m being infantile in assuming that everything should, by necessity, be fun. Maybe some things are just unpleasant, and that’s just how it goes. Maybe. All I know is that while I love reading on my iPad, reading black text against a white screen hurts my eyes, at any font size, but I can legit read comics on the same device for hours.

Want to connect with Wires Crossed? Follow us @wires_crossed or email us at wirescrossedblog@gmail.com.

More posts by Emmanuel.

Rebtel Is An International Student’s Best Friend

by Emmanuel Quartey

Once in a while, something comes along that solves a painful problem so elegantly that it leaves you speechless. For me, the pain point was the intensely unpleasant process of using international phone cards to call my family in Ghana. This is the story of how Rebtel allowed me to call my family more often (and basically saved me from being disowned).

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