What is Digital Scholarship Anyway? (Part Two)

Perhaps the best way to get a sense of how digital scholarship is changing academic landscapes is to learn about the exciting projects pursued at other pioneering institutions and right here at Connecticut College. You will probably recognize digital scholarship already practiced in your own work and provocative ideas for further enhancing your research and teaching with digital technologies.

  • Mining the Vogue Archives: Yale Librarians Peter Leonard and Lindsay King have been working with the Vogue Archive’s digitized data, and their projects in data visualization and data mining demonstrate how much new knowledge can be created through access to huge digital datasets.
  • Network analysis of the early modern social network: A project by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, Six Degrees of Francis Bacon uses data mining of existing scholarship, “published in countless books and articles […] scattered and unsynthesized” to create visual representations of the social networks between writers and intellectuals in early modern England.
  • Mapping Microfinance: Economics professor Shannon Mudd and Digital Librarian Laurie Allen at Haverford College worked with students to visually map access to finance in Uganda, demonstrating geographical and cultural factors that determine locations of microfinance operations, as well as visualizing potential correlations between poverty ratio and access to microfinance institutions.
  • Topic Modeling to Revise Ekphrasis: Lisa Rhody, Research Assistant Professor at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, uses advanced computational methods to challenge long-held understandings of ekphrasis and “accounts for inter-aesthetic relationships historically labeled as outliers.”
  • Mapping Women’s Movements and Mapping Connecticut College History: Just in the last two weeks, other Engage contributors highlighted the results of a mapping project in Professor Ariella Rotramel’s Spring 2014 Transnational Women’s Movements course, and the Lear Center’s adoption of History Pin for digital storytelling of the College’s history.
  • Visualizing Music Genres through Lyrics, Bruce Haik ’14, Ammerman Center for Arts & Technology, Faculty Advisor: Ozgur Izmirli—“For his CAT project, Haik compiled 800 pop songs from the past four years from four different genres. Using Python – a computer coding language – Haik created a running file of the lyrics from all 800 songs that he could manipulate to perform analysis, like finding out which words are most commonly used in each genre.” (The College Voice, 2014)
  • Planned Visualization Wall, Shain Library Technology Commons, 2015—When the renovated Shain Library reopens in fall 2015, the Technology Commons will feature a high-resolution microtile visualization wall. An interactivity kit will allow users to control the display as one controls a touch-screen on a computer, and the system will support simultaneous display of multiple devices, including wired computers and mobile devices. The wall will be an ideal tool to present research and instruction projects developed using interactive web-based applications, such as Google Maps and Google Earth, History Pin, Google Art Project and Google Open Gallery. Other potential uses of the wall include (interactive) digital exhibitions and gaming.
On-site Sample Visualization Wall Demo, July 2014, Language & Culture Center

On-site Sample Visualization Wall Demo, July 2014, Language & Culture Center

What is clear is that we are part of a revolution in academia that is, according to Jeffrey Schnapp, Professor of Romance Languages & Literature and Director of Harvard’s metaLAB, so impactful to scholarship as to be “comparable to the Copernican revolution or the discovery of the New World.” (Harvard Magazine, 2012) He convincingly illuminates the shifting role of scholars—traditionally understood as knowledge-creators—in the Digital Age:

When you move from a universe where the rules with respect to a scholarly essay or monograph have been fully codified, to a universe of experimentation in which the rules have yet to be written, characterized by shifting toolkits and skillsets, in which genres of scholarship are undergoing constant redefinition, you become by necessity a knowledge designer.”

What is Digital Scholarship Anyway? (Part One)

As the new Digital Scholarship and Visual Resources Librarian, much of my first year here at Connecticut College will be spent working with faculty and staff to identify potential digital scholarship projects and get them off the ground. The mission I’m tasked with is to continue shaping and developing the College’s engagements with digital scholarship technologies and trends—territories that the Instructional Technology team and faculty have been charting so innovatively for years. With the addition of a new team member and the renamed Digital Scholarship & Curriculum Center (DSCC), the Instructional Technology team’s efforts in digital scholarship continue to evolve and expand. But what is digital scholarship anyway?

Questions I’ve heard since arriving on campus highlight both the ambiguity of the term “digital scholarship” and the burden or trepidation many scholars feel when pushed to adapt their research and teaching to ever-changing technologies.

  • “That’s online publishing, right?” Yes, and so much more.
  • “Does digital humanities really mean no more books?” It refers to ways we can use digital tools to engage with the humanities beyond the printed text, but these tools also allow us to engage with printed texts in new ways.
  • “How can I bring technology into the classroom without interrupting the flow of teaching with unfamiliar technologies and malfunctions?” With support from the IT team, an understanding of exactly how digital technologies can help us create new knowledge and help students learn in better ways, and a little bravery and willingness to experiment, you can successfully implement and develop digital scholarship in your classrooms and research.

Digital scholarship is still in its infancy, its identity ever-evolving as new technologies are developed and their applications to higher education are recognized. Many librarians and professors have put forth broad definitions:

  • “Digital scholarship is research and teaching that is made possible by digital technologies, or that takes advantage of them to ask and answer questions in new ways.” Melanie Schlosser, Digital Librarian, The Ohio State University
  • “Although the phrase sometimes refers to issues surrounding copyright and open access and sometimes to scholarship analyzing the online world, digital scholarship—emanating, perhaps, from digital humanities—most frequently describes discipline-based scholarship produced with digital tools and presented in digital form.” Edward L. Ayers, Professor of History, University of Richmond

Digital scholarship can take many forms at different institutions for different populations. It is up to us to determine exactly how it can enhance teaching and scholarship at Connecticut College. Tune in tomorrow for the second installment of “What is Digital Scholarship Anyway?” where we’ll look at examples of specific projects at other institutions and some right here on campus.

Using Historypin to Engage Students with Place

historypinBecky Parmer, Archivist for Connecticut College, wrote the following post for our blog. Thank you, Becky!

Historypin is a user-generated online archive that enables users to engage with history through digital storytelling. By overlaying or “pinning” photographs, documents, video, and audio recordings on Google Maps, users from around the world help create digital narratives of places and the people and events connected to them (ex: Putting Art on the Map, Living with the Railroad). In areas where Google Street View is available, users can overlay historic images onto the contemporary view, and, using a slider, compare how an area has changed over time.

Launched in 2011 as a collaboration between the non-profit We Are What We Do and Google, Historypin’s nearly 2,000 institutions (including the Smithsonian, the US National Archives, the UK National Archives, and other libraries, museums, and archives around the world) and over 57,000 individual contributors have pinned more than 370,000 digital assets over the last three years.

At Connecticut College, the Lear Center has adopted Historypin as a way of mapping and sharing college history across space and time. An intern recently developed a virtual tour of the Connecticuthistorypin1 College Arboretum from its inception in 1931 to present day. With historic photographs, correspondence, maps, and documents sourced from Lear Center collections, “The Arboretum at Connecticut College, 1931 to 2014” traces Katharine Blunt’s plan to turn a few acres of windswept hill into the enduring reflection of the College’s commitment to environmental education, preservation, research, and conservancy we know today. Take a (virtual) tour of the Arboretum here.

As a way of engaging students with primary sources, as a forum for engagement and debate, and as a way of crowdsourcing knowledge and experience on a given time period, subject, or event, Historypin has serious classroom potential. For more information the Lear Center’s Historypin projects or questions about how to set up Historypin for your class, contact Becky Parmer or your Instructional Technology liaison.

Literacy, Technology, and a 21st Century Curriculum

In my last post, I discussed some of my ideas for flipping the classroom  in the Social Sciences/Humanities. In this post I turn to a different theme – literacy – which has surfaced as an important and recurring topic in the Technology Fellows Program (TFP) meetings. In fact, the topic has come up so often, that this past summer, I participated on a conference panel about digital technologies, metaliteracy, and faculty-library collaborations at the Connecticut Information Literacy Conference (CILC). Joining me on the panel were my colleagues in Information Services, Laura Little, Instructional Designer/Developer, and Jessica McCullough, Instructional Design Librarian.


Click on image to view presentation slides

One major  theme of our panel was that the TFP has become a welcome yet unanticipated venue where faculty, instructional technologists and librarians are collaborating on student literacies.  We, the Technology Fellows, have found ourselves devoting a significant amount of time to discussing the links between teaching, digital technologies, and literacy-building. We have also found ourselves relying extensively on the expert knowledge that our colleagues in Information Services bring to the table as we think about revising some of our courses for spring 2015.

This topic emerged unexpectedly  during a conversation about the ways in which digital technologies can support the delivery of course content. Examples spanned the gamut from showing YouTube videos in class, creating and embedding video in Moodle web pages, and developing original media for interactive digital textbooks.  While the possibilities were intriguing, our conversation soon segued into a different discussion on how multimedia – e.g. online video, interactive web sites, or user-created Wiki pages – can facilitate so-called “higher cognitive levels of learning” as suggested by Bloom’s taxonomy of pedagogical objectives.


Bloom’s Taxonomy

Digital technologies can certainly help students to better “remember” and “understand” course content. Moreover, they can also teach them to “analyze,” “evaluate,” and eventually “create” knowledge in relevant ways. Online videos are not only useful for sharing information, but they can also foster student thinking about the purposes, target audience, goals, biases, and historical contexts of  both analog and digital sources. Likewise, in using prominent user-created sites (e.g. Wikipedia), rich discussions can ensue on the benefits and dangers of open-source sharing and democratic knowledge production. As Historian and American Studies expert Jeffrey McClurken has commented, digital technologies can “create opportunities for students to become ‘critical practitioners’ of digital media rather than passive consumers or users.” An important rationale for using digital media, he argues, is the “notion of students creating and writing for a public audience … which has clear benefits for the students, the teacher and the institution” and “open[s] up the traditional, closed system of knowledge production” (Teaching and Learning with Omeka: Discomfort, Play, and Creating Public, Online, Digital Collections).

Upon further deliberation, the Technology Fellows have come to the consensus that the value in using digital technologies extends well beyond simply exposing students to new information or technological tools.  Indeed, current scholarship shows that digitized curricula can offer new opportunities for developing a sophisticated range of information literacies, including information technological fluency, and digital, visual, and media literacies. Library and information scientists, Thomas P. Mackey and Trudi E. Jacobson (the keynote speakers at CILC) developed the term “metaliteracy” to draw attention to  “multiple literacy types.” As knowledge becomes “increasingly participatory” and “takes many forms online,” they suggest, the consumption, sharing, and production of knowledge requires an increasingly “comprehensive” approach and reflexive “understanding of information.” (Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy).

Personally, I have found this notion of metaliteracy especially compelling as the College moves forward to revise General Education requirements and debates the types of “knowledge” or “competencies” that are relevant to the liberal arts curriculum in the 21st century. The framework of metaliteracy allows us to articulate and embrace the multiple modes of knowledge production that students will certainly have to navigate in order to participate in increasingly digitized and networked information environments. At a minimum, teaching students to consume and produce knowledge accurately, creatively, collaboratively, and responsibly will require a new awareness of the ways in which new networked modalities – online media, platforms, and tools – are changing knowledge formation in our respective disciplines.


Mapping Women’s Movements

Following up on our earlier post about Google Maps Engine Lite, Ariella Rotramel, Visiting Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, recently created a collaborative assignment using Google Maps in her Transnational Women’s Movements class last semester.mapwomen'smovements

The goal of the class project was to “help students explore a broader range of women’s movements beyond what we could cover in our course materials and help students gain first-hand experience with the complexities of researching and representing women’s movements…” Students were organized into groups based on region which enabled them to support each other and provide peer feedback on their map entries. Each student added 10 unique sites to the map. Each site included a brief synopsis of the site’s relevance, images or video, links to additional information, including news, academic or advocacy sources. After creating the map, students used their research as a starting point for a short paper, providing them with the opportunity to engage more deeply with topics that grew out of their map research.

Professor Rotramel worked closely with librarian Ashley Hanson and an instructional designer Laura Little in the design and implementation of this assignment, and they both visited the class to introduce elements of the assignment. Students were encouraged to contact them with research or technology-related questions during the course of the project.  Professor Rotramel hopes to further refine the assignment and work with future classes to develop the map.  Her long term aspiration is that the map can receive additions from people across the globe and become an open-access teaching tool.

Visit the Transnational Women’s Movements Map here. How might you use maps in your class? Post in the comments below, contact Professor Rotramel with questions about her assignment, or your Instructional Technology liaison with questions about using Google Maps Engine Lite in your class.


Mapping Fun with Google Maps Engine Lite

ATlas_of_Early_PrintingI like maps and I love exploring media rich interactive maps. In preparing this post, I spent far too much time exploring projects like Bomb Sight,  Mapping the Long Women’s Movement, the New York City Graffiti & Street Art Project, Travelogue, or Visualizing Emancipation. It seems like there is now a multi-layer interactive map for just about any subject.

Mashing up research and maps can be a great class activity that involves planning, research, evaluation, curation, visualization, and collaboration. However, most of us are not GIS experts, and even if you are, you may not need or want your students to become experts in GIS in order to accomplish your learning goals.

Enter Google Maps Engine Lite, a very simple entry point into the world of annoated maps. This tool allows you to create maps with up to three different layers; add points with text descriptions, URLs, images and other media; collaborate with a group; and share the map with a broader audience. Getting started is easy, and because all faculty and students at Connecticut College have Google accounts, there is no need to create any new accounts. Learn more about using Google Maps Engine Lite in this site that I created, or contact your Instructional Technology liaison.

Do we have Photoshop? Or, Computer Lab Software

Do we have SPSS? Photoshop? Audacity? iMovie?

If you use, recommend, or require students to use a specific type of software, consult the Computer Labs Software page. This page lists all the software available in the computer labs that are open to all students, the Neff Lab and the PC Classroom.  As a reminder, the PC Classroom is located in the Knowlton Dining Room and Neff Lab is now located in Main Street East, Harris.  The labs are open to students during the library’s regularly scheduled hours of service: M-Th, 8am – 2am; F, 8am – 10pm; Sat, 10am – 10pm; Sun, 10am – 2am.

If you need software that is not on this list, the deadline for adding new software to the labs for the spring semester is November 1st (for this fall it was June 1). Simply fill out a Help Desk Ticket to get the process started.maclab (1)