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Scalar for Historians

John Randolph, Author

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Tips for Instructors

Over the course of this semester (Spring '14), we will keep a log here of challenges, tips, and suggestions as we feel our way through using Scalar in a course for the first time.  You can also check out the syllabus and handouts developed for and used in History 396C, "History of 'Black Music' in the Americas and Beyond" under the "Syllabus, Handouts, and Assignments. . ." heading on our examples page.  You'll find a few initial points of clarification and orientation that you might want to include at the beginning of the semester under the "Final Considerations" section of "Start up," a step-by-step guide for students to create their first Scalar book and learn how to import and annotate media.   
  1. "Flex Days": Because we're learning how to use the technology as we go, and because there still are some bugs that Scalar is working out (especially with the annotation function), we recommend including a number of "flex days" during the semester/quarter in order to (a) avoid spending countless hours on "tech support" for students outside of class, and (b) because sometimes you just need an extra class session or portion of to get everyone up to speed.
  2. Firefox vs. Safari, or Desktop vs. Laptop?: In our experience, the annotation function is very uneven in Safari and works much better using Firefox.  Update (1/27): Actually, now we've been having problems with Firefox, too, but only when using a MacBook Air.  Everything is working fine on a Mac desktop.  Remains to be seen whether this is an issue specifically with MacBook Airs (do they qualify as IOS devices, which don't support annotations?), or laptops, in general.
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