Course blog for CSP 11 (Fall 2012) @ Occidental College

Below, you’ll find links to suggested (re: free/open source) digital tools for you to use on your various class projects and presentations.  Brief descriptions on how to use many of these tools are below, but if you would like to meet with me to go over any of these in more detail, I’m happy to do so during office hours or by appointment.


Zotero is an invaluable browser-based tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.  While this CSP semester will focus on learning to construct a critical argument, rather than research techniques, you will be expected to cite any class essays you engage with in your work correctly and completely.

Marsha Schnirring (Associate Vice-President for Scholarship Technology) loves to introduce faculty and students to this citation tool.  You are encouraged to form groups and schedule a more formal tutorial with her or another member of the Scholarship Technology team, but before you do so  you will be required to install Zotero on your laptop (if you have one you’ll be bringing to class).  Please familiarize yourself with this Zotero primer re: installation prior to setting up one of these sessions.


This will be an invaluable resource when collaboratively working on group projects and sharing drafts with your classmates for peer review.  I might also occasionally request that you “turn in” drafts of your paper assignments by sharing a googledoc with me.

It’s likely that you’re already using this, but if not I would strongly recommend it as a system to access and back up your files on multiple devices.  Likewise, I may ask you to share course projects (especially video files) with me via dropbox.


This is a really fantastic plugin that works in Firefox, Chrome and Safari.  You can capture the whole page, or the visible section, crop it, annotate it, and share it easily (via multiple social networking sites or email) or save it as a jpeg. Below, I captured the full page of our CSP 11 class blog, cropped a section, and annotated it to give you a sense of its capabilities:

One of the cooler features, especially considering privacy concerns, is the blurring feature.  You’ll note that I have blurred out my twitter handle and email address on the right.  Below, the annotation toolbar features, from left to right (* indicates that I have used this feature in the image above):

Crop*/Square Border*/Circle border*/Arrow*/Underlining/Scribble/Blurring*/Text*/Color selection for all these tools/Undo/Finish and Share


A great free, browser-based resource for your presentation images.  In addition to allowing you to easily crop and resize images you’ve uploaded, PicMonkey has a number of interesting creative options.  To give you a sense of the interface:

Below, I’ve used features from nearly every creative category (effects, text, overlays, etc.).  This example is not especially transformative or making a clear aesthetic argument, but you get a sense of the range of editing capabilities:

Fun to goof around with, certainly, but also useful for creating images that clearly convey your argument.


Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds (available for Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows).  To give you a sense of the interface:

A great resource for storing, sharing, and commenting on audio files.


A basic tool that allows users to create a personal map.  Unfortunately, Oxy’s version of Google doesn’t have My Maps, so you would have to register separately for a non-Oxy Google account in order to use it. In My Maps, you can create a new map with a title and description, drop pins in locations, label these pin (with specific color and shape assignment), and insert a narrative (including images and links). Google has provided a tutorial for My Maps that might be of use to you if you’re considering a mapping component of your final project.

Broadcastr, “a social media platform for location-based stories,” is an app that you might consider using as recording tool for digital and geospatial storytelling.



This is a free, interactive timeline tool that allows you contextualize every entry with a brief description and link out to relevant web pages, in addition to embedding a relevant photo and/or video.  You can share your timeline via various social networking sites or embed the finished timeline, which is something you might consider to augment a blog post/assignment. Here’s a screengrab of a Star Trek timeline I stumbled across on Dipity to give you a sense of what these look like:


A free, browser-based alternative to Powerpoint and Keynote, this zooming presentation tool (when used with some discretion) is really dynamic.  You’ll see me use it frequently in class, and there are some excellent example of clever design at Prezi’s website.  Your term paper presentations at the end of the semester will be given in Prezi, so please familiarize yourself with this technology over the course of the semester.

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