Archive for February, 2010

  • Digital Tools and Transferable Skills

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    I’d like to talk about pedagogical issues related to the use of digital tools. In particular, I’d like to discuss how we can best integrate digital tools into humanities/humanistic social sciences courses in ways that (1) students can see as clearly related to the course and (2) that will equip them with transferable skills.

    It’s the transferable skills I’m most interested in, I think. What I want is for my students to learn how to determine what they need to know, then be able to figure out what they need to do to acquire that knowledge. I got good training in that respect in my own field, and have been able to make use of those skills to learn a great deal about digital tools.

    What I want to do in my courses is work with students on academic and digital skill sets simultaneously. The question for me is which digital tools to use, and why—and how to get students comfortable with them (and confident that they know where to go for help if they get stuck).

    I’d love to share ideas about these kinds of questions with other campers. It might also be helpful to discuss how we as instructors can develop our own digital skills—including how we teach them to our students and what resources outside our institutions we might need—particularly if we’re interested in using tools that aren’t officially supported by our institutions.

  • Engaged Cultural Heritage Development, Archaeology, and Digital Social Media

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    The MSU Campus Archaeology Program was established to make sure that MSU serves as a good steward towards their cultural and archaeological resources. We are called in to mitigate before any tree is planted or building is built. Our primary goals include the research of MSU’s past, teaching students about archaeology, and engaged cultural heritage development within and around the MSU community.  Over the past year, the MSU Campus Archaeology Program has been utilizing digital social media as a means for engaging communities in our archaeological research. Utilizing Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and blogging, we have been able to share the process of excavation, methodology, analysis, and interpretation with the communities that we serve.

    We consider traditional public archaeology, which typically consists of site visits and museum exhibits, to be lacking in a number of qualities that keep it from being “engaged”. Communities are rarely encouraged to take part, or even to see, the process that goes from excavation to presentation. Digital social media has allowed us to keep the public informed and engaged in what we are doing in a number of ways. Real-time excavation posting on Twitter and Facebook have allowed us to show and tell the decisions we make in the field and to share the discovery of artifacts with the public. Photos on Flickr and blog posts provide an opportunity to share our research methods, discuss our findings, and provide explanations about how we draw the conclusions that we do. Lastly, social media allows for all of these elements to be two-way: the community has the opportunity to engage with us at any moment. They can ask questions of us while we are in the field, post comments to Facebook, Flickr, or our Blog asking us questions about our decision making, or anything else that is on their mind regarding our topics.

    I am hoping to discuss our methods in how they may be applied to other areas of public, engaged academic services. Additionally, I am hoping that new ideas may be brought to the table about how these technologies may be utilized. The very recent popularity of location-based social media, for example, has sparked our interest. Our primary focus will be on using technology to engage communities in the development of their cultural heritage.

    In the meantime, please see what we’re up to by following, fanning, contacting, subscribing, or what have you!

  • Reaching Common Educational Goals: Are Public History (and Digital Humanities) Entities Providing the Resources Educators Want?

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    Last year, for my capstone masters project in the NYU Archives and Public History program, I undertook a three-pronged exploratory project to assess the state of collaboration among history educators and providers of educational resources sought (and unsought) by them.  My project stemmed from the commonality of “education” embraced as a shared goal among public history institutions and schools. My aim was to determine whether providers of educational resources (including archivists, museum educators and creators of digital history projects) are meeting the stated needs of K-12 teachers (and to determine whether teachers’ educational goals match the goals of public history institutions). To reach my goal I surveyed 23 history teachers (mostly secondary-level) about their educational goals and about the resources (including text books, primary sources, websites and visits to historic sites and museums) they use to meet them.  I solicited feedback on how museums and creators of digital history sites can better serve the secondary educational community. Simultaneously, I interviewed 11 public historians including museum educators, archivists and creators of digital history projects about the genesis of their projects, how they conceive of their educational goals, the role that teachers and students play in their educational efforts and the ways that they measure success.  This study has illuminated elements of successful collaboration, areas for improvement and needs for further collaboration and advocacy in the promotion of history education in America.

    Although my project focused on history education, I believe it has relevance to the humanities more broadly. For this session, I am interested in sharing the results of my survey and discussing their implications for digital humanities projects that seek to offer resources to teachers. I look forward to discussing educational goals with creators and users of digital humanities resources and brainstorming ways in which institutions can work together to make their content more relevant to educators and to advocate for the breadth and depth of educational experience possible in the best-constructed digital humanities projects.

    I welcome suggestions and am happy to discuss my survey design and results in advance of THATCamp with anyone who is interested!

  • Socially Sourced Student Feedback

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    I would love to talk with others who have experimented with socially sourced feedback for student work or those who are interested in trying this out in their own class. After the first go at trying this out myself, I think the benefits far outweigh the consequences!

    You can read more about my first experiment here – http://www.leighgraveswolf.com/?p=405

    I am replicating this experiment in late April and would love to come away from THATCamp with additional reviewers for my pool.  Additionally, during the session I would love to brainstorm

    - a set of guidelines for external reviewers (a “toolbox” and review tips)
    - strategies for instructor management of the external review process
    - ideas for scaling this up and making it a sustainable practice

    Ideally, if we can make connections at THAT Camp, I would love to collaborate on a paper to share our thoughts and experiments with an even wider audience!

  • Digital History and the Community College

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    I’m currently working on a revamp of our department’s oral history course which will expand into larger areas of local history.  I’m also, at the same time, working on a revamp of our static, old-school-looking department website.  What I would like to do is have a database-driven, dynamic site that faculty will find more useful.

    Then it hit me that if students are doing local and oral history projects, a new, dynamic department website could be the perfect place to showcase these projects.  This would have the additional pedagogical utility of introducing students to composing for a wider audience.  This idea, while technologically possible, brings up a few issues that I would like to discuss.

    Teaching at an open-enrollment community college in one of the most economically depressed cities in the country (2nd most poverty stricken, with unemployment in the mid 20% range) I cannot make any assumptions about the technological knowledge of my students, nor can I make assumptions about their access to technology.  Thus, designing a course (or even a significant course project) around a technological feature is fraught with problems.  I plan to discuss both these problems and potential solutions to these problems in March.

  • Copyright and Digitization Projects

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    I study digital archives and am interested the impediment that copyright law and archivists’ interpretation of it pose to scholarly research using digital materials.  I worked as a project manager to digitize a collection of AIDS research papers and in the process had to attempt to contact over 1500 different copyright holders to get permission to put their items online.  Most rights holders who responded had no problem granting permission…in fact, the biggest obstacle to getting permission was non-response.  Can archives really afford to go about responding to copyright law in this way?  What might the effect of such practices be on scholarship?  I’m hoping to engage humanists in a discussion of the ramifications of copyright law on digitization projects that could be key in fostering digital humanities.

  • Room and Ride Sharing

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    A good chunk of Great Lakes THATCamp attendees will be coming from outside the greater Lansing area.  Many will be flying in to Detroit Metro Airport or driving in from other exotic locales (like the jewel of southern Ontario -  London).  The result is that there will be lots of people who either need a ride or can provide a ride.  So, if you can provide a ride, drop a comment as to where you are coming from, when you are going to be traveling, how many people you can accommodate, etc.  If you need a ride, drop a comment as to your starting destination, when you are going to be traveling, etc, etc, etc.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Dealing with Data, Digital Repositories, and KORA

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    Although it may seem like a simple idea to store data, the reality that most of us are very aware of is that the opposite is the case.  Having worked at MATRIX for the last 3+ years, including the redesign and rewrite of KORA the digital repository software at MATRIX, the pains of storing and safeguarding data  are very well known to me.  I will be talking about issues surrounding building a system like KORA and how computer scientists view the data very differently from the humanists (usually).  There are many other issues related to dissemination of data that we store and ease of use of these systems.   I also plan to possibly talk about the following topics (in no particular order):

    • Open source software (specifically running a project like KORA)
    • Dealing with the never ending questions like ‘can you add twitfacefliksquarespace to your project?’ and the implications of integrating into open (and closed) data sources
    • Undergraduate programmers – they rock!
    • How do we determine the ‘best’ way to store metadata in schemes beyond well defined ones (such as DublinCore)
    • Data access, data restrictions, data vetting, pretty much anything about data
    • The double-edged sword of  your (or your IT/CS person’s) favorite programming language
    • Making use of your data beyond it’s original purpose
    • Ponies

    Right now I am still in the process of getting a final topic list put together – so please feel free to suggest anything in the comments either adding additional topics or suggesting I remove something.   I am currently engaged in research in both audio (my Masters Thesis) and images (the Quilt Index / Digging into Data) regarding similarity measures and would be happy to discuss anything related to that as well.

  • Orality and libraries

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    Hi folks. Here’s what I’d like to talk about at THATcamp.

    I’m working on a paper for a (traditional) conference this summer on how folk literature in the oral tradition can be used as a model for describing the contemporary activity of writing fan fiction. Along the way, I’ve been thinking about Robin Lakoff’s observations about modern society’s shift from literacy to orality as the ideal model for communication.

    This trend began decades before the Internet, but is certainly being hastened by it. An unconference is a perfect example of a communicative form morphing from a “written” model to an oral model: even though a traditional conference involves the spoken word, its nature is more like written communication: the presentations are prepared beforehand (“reading a paper”) and often intended to be disseminated in print afterward.

    Poetry slams are another possible example. Poetry readings have traditionally been constructed as events where an author reads from work already published, or perhaps work intended for future publication. That’s not a given at poetry slams, and although there are a few published anthologies of poetry composed for slams, I suspect they’re only a tiny fraction of what has actually been performed. The live performance is what counts.

    How can libraries collect primary source material, like fanfiction and blogosphere discussions, which exist not in a single digital space but in diffuse locations? Is there any meaningful way to preserve forms of scholarly interaction and popular culture, like unconferences and poetry slams, which define themselves through in-person attendance? There are technical challenges, and the copyright questions are also very complex. Substantive material, which scholars might find valuable in the future, is being produced outside of the publication & dissemination arenas where intellectual property issues are at least somewhat settled.

    So the resurgence of orality has significant implications for research libraries, which collectively are responsible for gathering primary source material (while it’s still available!) and building comprehensive collections for current and future scholars. There are several other librarians attending THATcamp, but most of you represent the scholars whose future needs librarians try to anticipate as we develop collections. I look forward to exchanging ideas with you.

  • Using Analytics Apps to Analyze Digital Humanities Projects’ Social Networking Efforts

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    Many digital humanities projects use social networking to meet goals such as expanding their audience base and exciting both new and existing audiences about content.  As a researcher at MATRIX working on the Quilt Index, www.quiltindex.org, an online resource providing access to images and metadata for around 50,000 (and counting) historic and contemporary quilts, I’ve spearheaded an aggressive social media campaign aimed at expanding and engaging audience.

    Like me, you may already have a fair amount of experience using social media to engage audiences with a digital humanities project.  But you may be wondering:

    • Are my social networking efforts as effective as they could be?
    • How can analytics apps help me focus my social media campaign and more clearly define my audience goals?
    • How can I use information about social networking successes in my project’s future grant writing?
    • What are some simple changes I can make to my regular social networking routine to help achieve better results?

    If these questions sound familiar, this session is for you!  This discussion should be of use to anyone who has done social networking with a digital humanities project, but wants to use (or use more effectively) one or more of the many analytics applications out there to improve their social media campaign, and even to find fodder for grants.

    I’d like to begin by talking about how I have used analytics such as Insights [Facebook] and WeFollow and Klout [Twitter] to expand and internationalize the Quilt Index’s audience through social media, and how staff at any digital humanities project can use social networking analytics apps to gauge how well they are meeting their audience goals.  I hope that the group will generate the bulk of the session, sharing info about other social networking analytics applications out there and brainstorming other ways that digital humanities projects can make the best use of social networking apps.

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