A Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College Project

Author: Margaret Galvan

Margaret Galvan is pursuing a PhD in English and a film studies certificate at the City University of New York Graduate Center. She has taught at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Borough of Manhattan Community College and serves as one of the coordinators of OpenCUNY, the student organized, open-source, social media for the Graduate Center community. Her research focuses on the representation of women's bodies in twentieth and twenty-first century graphic, filmic, and text narratives.

Of Formatting & Media

In class today, we kickstarted the process of putting our research about Flatbush onto the course website as I demonstrated how to upload text and images. Then, each group met to discuss their specific content and action plan both for putting & formatting existing content online and for gathering & creating additional content (e.g. text, images, interactive media). To this end, this informational post introduces a few plugins that I, your Instructional Technology Fellow, have activated to help you format your text and also shares information for those of you who wish to create timelines.

If there are other functions that are important for your group, be in contact. The next time we spend class time working on the website, we will definitely cover how to create excerpts, how to create galleries, and how to create menus to organize our content. I can cover other relevant materials, but it is imperative that I am aware of these needs as soon as possible so that I can research and prepare.

Formatting &c.

1. Endnotes. In your papers, you used the Chicago Manual of Style to render your citations as endnotes. I’ve activated the FD Footnotes plugin, which “provides an extremely easy way to add elegant looking footnotes to your posts” as demonstrated here.1 The plugin page provides a text-based overview and screenshots that walk you through the process of creating these citations. The overview shows how you use a shortcode (i.e. information formatted in a specific way within square brackets []) to create the endnote. In addition to the instructions there, you will need to format your text within the endnote to italicize the relevant parts and add links as necessary. Both of those functions can be accessed by selecting the text that you need to format and then selecting the relevant button at the top of the text editor.

2. Pull Quotes. We discussed the process of adding images to your text, but I also mentioned the option of using pull quotes throughout to emphasize important blocks of text. I’ve activated the Simple Pull Quote plugin that will help you create these blocks of text. Again, the instructions and screenshots on the plugin page will get you started. When you are using pull quotes, the text that you select will be “pulled out” of the paragraph, so if you need that text in-paragraph, too, you’ll have to copy and paste. Additionally, when using pull quotes, place them at the end of the paragraph, rather than the beginning where the pull quote function will mess with the paragraph spacing. I’m happy to discuss or demonstrate this functionality (and/or others!) in further depth in class or in one-on-one meetings as necessary if there are any questions.

3. Authorship. In WordPress, each post or page is automatically authored by whoever first created the post and can be edited later to credit a different author. However, the normal functionality won’t credit multiple authors, so I’ve activated the Co Authors Plus plugin so that we can emphasize the collaborative nature of this project. Again, check out the plugin overview and screenshots to get a sense of how this plugin works. I’ll write a little more about the process here, as well, since the information on this particular plugin page isn’t as detailed.

You can add authors in addition to the person who initially created the post or page in two ways. Right under the main content editor, you’ll see an “Authors” box where you can search for (by email, username, or first and last names) and select additional authors. You can also add authors from the main page that lists all posts or all pages. To do this, find your post or page in question, click the Quick Edit link under the title, and you’ll see a similar interface for adding authors alongside other metadata about the post. The images below illustrate this process.


A few of the groups wanted to create timelines. TimelineJS is an open-source tool that will allow you to create a timeline that can be embedded on the course website. The already-linked main site for TimelineJS describes some of the process for creating these timelines, but also refer to the screencasts that former ITF (and current CLIR Postdoc in Digital Scholarship at Bucknell University) Emily Sherwood made that demonstrate how to create a timeline and embed it in WordPress. Some of you expressed a desire to make vertical timelines, and while that is definitely possible (with TimelineJS, evn), it’s a little more difficult. If your group decides that a vertical timeline is a must, your group will have to do more work to achieve that, but I can help facilitate.

Another option is to create a timeline with Prezi and embed it in the course website. Here are two examples from ITF Amanda Licastro: example one and example two.

Information on Audio Recording Software, Format, & Transcription

In addition to the recorders that you can check out from Macaulay, which you used to record audio during the Night at the Museum last semester, you can also check out recorders from the Brooklyn College Library. However, you may want to use your smart phone to record audio. In fact, you may want to have both a recorder and your smart phone along, for, “Good standard practice is to always use two recorders, so that if one dies you have a running backup,” as ITF Stephen Boatright pointed out when the ITFs discussed this issue. Other good, practical advice for recording includes:

  • test your device(s)/apps at home; asking yourself questions like:
    • Am I comfortable with how recording works, and do I know how close I need to be to get good sound?
    • Do I have my settings correctly configured (see below)?
    • Do I have enough space and battery life to record a 30 min.-1 hr. interview?
  • do a test recording at the interview before you start the real interview so that you’re sure that both you and your interviewee are audible
  • check in periodically during the interview to make sure your device is still recording
  • make sure that your recording environment has as little background noise as possible. It’s easier to get a good recording in the first place rather than trying to correct it later.

While the recorders you can check out are fairly straight forward (and we can discuss this more!), when it comes to your smart phone, you may wonder: what app should I use? The following answers, suggestions, and resources come from the cohort of ITFs across the various Macaulay Honors College campuses.


      • The native Apple app, Voice Memos, may work for you. The audio files will be generated in Apple’s proprietary format and will need to be converted. This short guide gives a rundown of the features and drawbacks of Voice Memos.
      • Another suggested option is Voice Record Pro (free). As ITF Bronwyn Dobchuk-Land reports, “My favorite part is that [Voice Record Pro] links to my Dropbox so as soon as I was done interviewing I could immediately back up the interview.” The end of this short review gives an overview of the app’s features.


      • There is in-built capability to record on the Android phone, but the standard advice on the Internet is that this feature supports the recording apps you can download and isn’t really meant to be used alone.
      • ITF Kevin Ambrose suggests One Note (free), a note-taking app with recording capabilities, and he touts its “native voice recording and transcription features.” This link, also provided by Ambrose, overviews One Note and other note-taking apps, some of which also have recording capabilities.
      • Recommended by Brooklyn College Professor Miguel Macias are Sound & Voice Recorder – ASR and WeTransfer, two apps which he uses in tandem for audio recordings as shown in the short demo below.

Audio File Format

The interviews you’ll be conducting for the Brooklyn Listening Project will ultimately need to be in WAV file format when you submit them. It’s easiest to record in WAV from the get-go, so you should check your app’s settings to set this feature. If, however, you cannot record in WAV (and that’s the case with Voice Memos), you can convert the file later on in iTunes as described in this helpful post from Apple. This post also touches on the differences between certain audio formats.


If you need to transcribe your audio, here are some programs.

    • ITF Stephen Boatright recommends Express Scribe, but also points to the transcription abilities of “iTunes, Quick Time, Dragon Dictate, and perhaps even Audacity.” Regarding Express Scribe, he writes: “I like Express Scribe because you can set the keyboard short cuts for stopping, starting, skipping back/forward, etc. to whichever keys fit your typing style best. You also have good control over the speed of playback.”
    • ITF Bronwyn Dobchuk-Land recommends transcribe, while noting “It is not particularly fast or efficient or anything, but it does let you set up keyboard commands to slow down, speed up, go back, etc.”

Checking out AV Equipment from Macaulay

Throughout the course of your Seminar 2, you will be engaged in a wide variety of assignments where media recording devices might come in handy. You’re welcome, of course, to use your own devices, but I’m here to helpfully remind you of what you can check out from Macaulay. Check out the full list of devices and form here; your best bets for ease of use are: Canon Powershot A540 (camera), Flip Ultra Camcorder or Vado HD G3 (video camera), and Olympus VN-702PC Digital Audio Recorder (audio recorder that you used for Night at the Museum). Continue reading

Social Explorer, Infoshare

“Immigration is still part of the continuous cycling of population, as people who have lived in the city move on and are replaced by immigrants. This ‘demographic ballet’ is a source of strength for the city because it provides a supply of talent upon which its institutions rest.”
—Arun Peter Lobo and Joseph J. Salvo, “Portrait of New York’s Immigrant Mélange,” p. 36 Continue reading