Women’s History Month: Margaret Fuller and Barbara Means

March is Women’s History Month! I’m picking some influential women to profile here on my blog. Each woman has a connection to my life at the present – be it through careers, interests, or inspiration. This time, I’m profiling Margaret Fuller, and Barbara Means. Keep reading to find out why!

#1. Margaret Fuller – Transcendentalist, Journalist, Writer

Margaret Fuller Image

Margaret Fuller

I first learned of Margaret Fuller in college in an American Literature course, and I could not believe I’d never heard of her prior to that class. Margaret Fuller (a.k.a. Sarah Margaret Fuller) was an American writer back in the 1800s who held a host of important jobs that were unheard of for women in her time. She was a teacher, a writer, a journalist, and she also advocated hardcore for women’s rights. She held meetings for women to gather and talk – not gossip, but talk about important topics, as a way to make up for the fact that women were generally not allowed to attend college during her time.

She is also one of the founders of the Transcendentalist movement, though she doesn’t get as much credit as Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, etc. Whenever you learn about the Transcendentalists in high school, you only hear about the men, but Fuller joined the boys’ club and became the first editor of The Dial, the Transcendentalists’ magazine. She also worked for the New York Tribune and went to Europe as their first female correspondent.

Sadly, she died in a shipwreck just off Fire Island in New York (thanks Wikipedia, for this fact!) and her body was never recovered.

I love Margaret Fuller because she has a similar background to me. I am a teacher and a journalist, and I like to think that I stick up for women’s rights when I can. Also, the Transcendentalist movement is my favorite American literary time period. Fuller was breaking barriers that most women didn’t even realize existed at the time. That leads me to my next woman inspiration…

#2. Barbara Means – Educational Psychologist who focuses on how technology can improve education

Barbara Means

Barbara Means

Barbara Means is one of the major players in educational technology. She came up with some of the earliest widely-accepted theories that helped researchers talk about educational technology, and still contributes hugely to the field today. She’s written tons of books and articles about how technology can improve education at all levels, and she’s not even a Millennial.

Right now, she serves at the Director for the Center for Technology in Learning for SRI International, a research and development company. Currently she’s working on a project in conjunction with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Means is on my list for a variety of reasons. First of all, she’s a major player in technology, a field notorious for its lack of women involvement (though that landscape is starting to change!). Secondly, she’s all about research for education, which is where my major interest also lies. Lastly, she’s an older person (with all due respect, Barbara!) who embraces technology and believes it has a place in education. U.S. education has not yet fully embraced the idea that technology can transform education, largely because the people who are currently teaching and/or making the laws about education aren’t of the Millennial Generation. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’m currently studying to be an instructional technologist, and that’s a job that exists solely because of research that Means has contributed to. So thank you, Barbara, for this career I can be passionate about and also break down some barriers for women in the process!

That’s all for this week! To see who I profiled last week, click here! And consider taking some time out of your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to remember your own female inspirations this weekend! Feel free to link to your own posts in the comments!

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My Book-less Semester Week 2: I’m Getting the Hang of This!

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

I’m starting to finally find a rhythm to get into with the eBooks and doing my readings, thank goodness, making this week’s a short update (I’ve got readings to do, people!).

Most importantly: Still no screen headaches! I’m starting to think this is a myth. Or maybe my digital native status makes me immune? Who knows. Anyway, moving on…

First of all, I have to sing the praises of Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader, which allows me to have a tab constantly open while I’m at work with my current chapters to read through during my precious free time. I have the Kindle app downloaded on my laptop, but I can’t do that on my work computer, hence the Godsend that is the Cloud Reader.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Barnes & Noble and I love my Nook, but Amazon definitely knows how to deliver a user experience. While not as innovative as Nook Study (at least not that I have discovered yet), the Cloud Reader is definitely giving me some much-needed flexibility with what machines I’m reading on. I wish Barnes & Noble would do something like this. I know they have mobile apps and all that jazz, but as far as I researched, it all has to be downloaded. A browser tab is just so much more convenient when I can’t have my eReader!

This weekend, though, I had my first quizzes, and man was it tough to “click through” the pages of eBooks to look at my notes! Something I’ll have to adapt to, I suppose!

I’m also finding that having all my texts on a computer might be making me print out shorter readings (articles and such) for my current research project. It’s weird. I never used to do this – I’d usually always compile a GoogleDoc of links and citations, and download when I got back to my personal computer. Then I’d use Preview’s highlight and annotate features to mark them up.

However, as I said, I’m printing articles and highlighting them with an actual highlighter. So weird. I wonder though, if it has anything to do with the fact that it’s for my master’s research project, and not just class. The really good sources — ones I’m positive I’ll be using when writing my final report — are the ones I’m printing. Perhaps it’s one of those instinctual tendencies, an indicator that I still don’t 100% trust the Google machine to keep the articles I need under the same addresses for future review! It’s something I’ll have to keep tabs on in the next few weeks!

Want to learn more about my decision to buy 100% eBook textbooks for my second semester of graduate school? Click here.

Want to know how it was going for me last week? Click here.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap

Way back in 2010, a young college sophomore version of myself began taking 400 level Literature courses. I got my first booklist for ENGL 420 – “Wilderness Literature” and was shocked when I learned I needed nine novels for the course. And that was just one course. Thus marks the beginning of my interest in eReaders.

This week’s poll on The Daily Post asks whether you prefer eReaders and eBooks to the good-ole fashioned print version, a topic I’ve discussed many times (here, here, and here for starters!).

Since the good people of WordPress were kind enough to link to my blog on their site, I’m going to take their challenge and respond to this poll. As you know, if you’re a regular around here, I’ve gone paperless this semester and bought all my textbooks as eBooks, so I’m not going to talk about it from a textbook point of view.

I begged my parents for Barnes & Noble‘s Nook, and since they love me and wanted to get me an awesome birthday gift because I was away at college, they caved and got me the Nook Color in 2010. So now instead of hauling textbooks and four or five novels around the metropolis that is Penn State’s main campus, I could contain those novels in one little device. The best part? Most of the novels I was studying were in the public domain, so the digital versions were FREE.

The educational benefits were the hook I used to get my parents into the idea of buying me the $300 device, but I wasn’t about to relegate my eBook consumption to pre-1900s American literature. I have to admit, the number one pro to having an eReader is that you can buy books and read them instantly, and for a digital native like myself, instant gratification goes a long way.

For example, when I wanted to read Catching Fire immediately after finishing The Hunger Games, I couldn’t stand to wait until the next day to go to the bookstore. I whipped out my Nook and BOOM! I was off and reading once again. Love it.

However, I can still get lost in Barnes & Noble. I still love roving the library stacks for the next great find – because there’s nothing better than an interesting spine that calls to you from the top shelf, catching your eye because of the perfect color combination, font style, or clever title. I still love carrying a physical book when I go to substitute teach – I don’t have to worry about my Nook getting swiped, and there’s just something about other people seeing me engrossed in a physical, paper-bound book that makes me feel different from the tablet-toting consumer of pixels and electricity.

My conclusion to the poll is this: A true lover of words cannot choose between physical and eBook. eBooks offer the instant gratification of reading the next book in the series, the self-published e-author’s first work before they got famous, or the steamy romance novel with the racy cover that you wouldn’t otherwise be caught dead reading in public. Physical books, for a true lover of words, are just too near and dear to our hearts to ever let go of completely. Readers of paper-bound books don’t need to constantly worry about where the nearest electricity-producing outlet is. A physical tome can be passed down from generation to generation with ease. Holding a novel is like holding a part of the author – expressed not only in the words, but in the paper weight and font choices.

Physical books and eBooks will live in not-always peaceful coexistance, and I don’t foresee the conclusion of that relationship until long after I’ve left this earth.

My Book-less Semester: Week 1

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A week or so ago, I posted about how I purchased all my textbooks for my second semester of graduate school in eBook form. The main reason behind this decision? Money. The eBooks saved me around $50-70 this semester, which might not sound like a lot to the average working adult, but for me, that’s two weeks of groceries or a tank and a half of gas. The other reason is that my program, Instructional Technology, is about 70% online courses. My eBook purchases have now just combined 100% of my course materials onto my laptop.

The first week of school was pretty slow. Syllabus week proved to be just that: reading and posting that I’ve read the course syllabus, have my materials, yadda yadda. My first readings aren’t due until this week, but I did try to get a jump start on them this weekend.

My goodness, was it difficult! As I suspected in my last post, it took just about everything in me to get through the reading without checking my Facebook newsfeed, or scrolling through my endless Tumblr dashboard (curse you, Tumblr, for endless scrolling!), or to keep out of TweetDeck.

My first reading wasn’t bad. I got through it and then thought, “Oh, I’ll just reward myself for that with a little social media.” Two hours later, when I had wanted to accomplish all my reading over the weekend, I was still busy on Pinterest, my newest obsession (read about my newfound relationship with Pinterest here), pinning wedding reception photos, which is extra pathetic because I don’t even have a significant other (my cousin is getting married in June though, so that’s how I justify this behavior).

Once I got a hold of myself, I closed my applications and got back to work on my second reading, which was a particularly dry introduction to Web 2.0 technologies. I know, it was like fate was intervening here. Part of the assignment for the reading was to visit the sites mentioned in the text, and granted, they were education related, but all it took was the opening of a new browser session and I was off task again.

Needless to say, I did not finish my readings on Saturday. Sunday was a complete loss, what with the Super Bowl being on and my incessant need to partake in tweeting about commercials, the 49er’s awful first half, and of course, the highlight of the night, when the power went out at the Super Dome. There was no way any reading was getting done.

On the plus side, my eyes didn’t bother me from looking at the screen! Hopefully tonight after work I will have better luck settling myself down to get the readings for my other two classes out of the way. I’m thinking that with practice and discipline, perhaps I can work up to the ability to do all the reading without getting distracted.

Also, mega thanks to WordPress’s The Daily Post for linking to my blog post about going paperless and reminding me to post my update about it!

Join in the conversation! Is anyone else going paperless this semester?

Pinterest in Writing

Happy Monday everyone!

I wanted to let you in on something I just started up last week as I was stalling on my current WIP.

I created a private board on Pinterest to post inspirational photos related to my characters, setting, and themes. At first I thought it would just be a distraction and an excuse for me not to work on my manuscript, but it was actually beneficial. Pinterest_Favicon

For those who aren’t already clued in, Pinterest is basically like having all the corkboards you could possibly want, each devoted to its own topic, and then having access to all the pictures/articles/media in the world to tack on the boards. Popular boards revolve around planning one’s wedding, or finding photos of outfits or work clothes you love, places you want to visit, ways to decorate your home, craft ideas… I could go on and on. I love Pinterest, but the idea of using it as inspiration for my story had not occurred to me before.

I highly recommend this to anyone just starting out on their stories. There are LOADS of photos on Pinterest, and it’s easy to find things that match the description in your head of your character, or their home or school or workplace. It makes writing so much easier when you’re blocked!

Does any of you guys already use Pinterest to kickstart your writing? Does it sound like something you might try, or are you too easily distracted by the interwebz? Let me know!

Going Paperless this Semester

Barnes & Noble nook (ebook reader device)

Barnes & Noble nook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Sunday! Hope it’s been relaxing for you all. I am preparing to go back to school and back to work tomorrow, and I’m pretty excited for a couple reasons. First, I am a huge dork and love school, and my job at the library is totally boss.

But secondly, I’m going paperless this semester and have purchased all my textbooks in eBook formats!

I can’t say this was a conscious decision from the start. As a grad student still in WAY over my head in debt from my undergrad, I’m always looking to get away on the cheap. And actually, the eBook versions of my textbooks were WAY cheaper than the physical printed books, something that’s not always the case with fiction titles. According to my math, I probably saved myself about $50 on the four books I needed this semester.

I also went with whoever had the version of the book cheaper – and I have to say that although I love my Nook and Barnes & Noble has a special place in my heart, Amazon’s Kindle book prices were better for three out of the four. So I’ll be learning to use the Kindle for Mac software too this semester!

I’m excited to see how this goes. I’ve never bought an e-textbook before. In the cases where I did purchase my books for class, I always had physical pages to write on, highlight, dog-ear, and in some cases, resell at the end of the class. But it makes sense. I’m studying instructional technology and integration of digital media in education, so eBooks for my textbooks make sense in a way.

I’ll keep you updated on how this goes. I’m nervous that the eBooks will be difficult for me to actually complete my readings. Whenever I work on the computer, I tend to also be surfing the internet, reading Twitter feeds, checking Facebook, etc. I also occasionally get headaches from staring at the screen too long if it’s too bright.

But hey, at least I’m saving a couple bucks and it’ll be a great experience to talk about in seminar! Anyone else ever gone totally print-book-less for school or work? Any tips or suggestions?

Why Printed Books Will Never Die

I came across this article, courtesy of Dina Ciccarelli’s blog, Keep Calm and Read a Book Blog.

It’s from Mashable, and it’s about the physical beauty of a printed book as opposed to an eBook, and points out many other reasons why printed books will withstand the storm of technology in publishing. I thought it was a timely piece to include here since I just wrote about the BiblioTech “eLibrary” in Texas the other day.

Here’s a link to Dina’s original post: http://keepcalmandreadabookblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/why-printed-books-will-never-die/