Winding Down

After a few meetings with students, a University lecture that I wanted to attend, and a midday workout (unplugging sometimes is essential to DH!), I’m winding down my day by getting my email down to Inbox Zero. I also spent some time posting comments to student posts at the course blog for RiceDH, which has been a pleasure because the students in the course have been so productive and sharp!

I also went to check in on our GitHub organization account to see if there had been any activity there from students. In addition to using GitHub to host code written for the class by students or myself, I’m also using GitHub this semester to host two private repositories—one to host the texts of the runaway slave ads we are analyzing, and one to host drafts of the essays students are working on, which they are writing in GitHub Markdown so that we can easily transform them to HTML later on.

I got the private repos for free by requesting an education discount, and so far I’ve been pleased. I’ve been interested in using GitHub as a potential course management system for a while, or at least since Chad Black posted about how he does it. Black suggested using Prose.io as the main interface for students, but since his post, GitHub has incorporated a pretty good web-based editor directly into the site. And new features like rendered prose diffs and a good introduction to Markdown have made it even friendlier for things like student drafts.

I am finding that so far students have been able to use GitHub without too much trouble (aside from a couple of issues that arose when two edits were being made at the same time), and all without having to know much (or anything) about Git or command-line git tools. Since you can edit and create files in a repo directly from the website now, and even enable a distraction-free editing window similar to Prose.io, the workflow doesn’t require much technical expertise or third-party tools.

All in all, it was a good day, and a little more relaxed than a typical day because I’m teaching Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays this semester. I’ll probably do a little more work tonight reviewing applications for a summer project that will update and extend a past Omeka project, sending some emails, and getting ready for my conference trip later this week.