2018 Digital Scholarship Fellows Program: Call for Proposals

Have you been thinking about creating a digital companion for your book project? Do you have collections of research materials collecting dust or physically degrading in your office, or large datasets you’d like to develop into a digital archive, maps, or visualizations to accompany your written scholarship? Would you like your students to actively engage with Special Collections & Archives materials to create a digital project?

If any of these questions resonate with you, and you would like to involve students in the processes of digitization, analysis, and online publishing, please see the Call for Proposals and consider applying for the Digital Scholarship Fellows Program. As a 2018 Digital Scholarship Fellow, you would have the opportunity to work with Information Services staff members and other faculty fellows to 1) gain new technological skills to support the development and broad dissemination of your research; 2) scaffold research projects that involve digital technologies and collaboration with students and other partners; and 3) present the results of your participation in the program at speaking engagements at both Connecticut College and other institutions engaging in creative digital scholarship.

Digital scholarship offers liberal arts colleges opportunities to leverage the close working relationship between students and faculty and develop students’ research and technology skill sets through experiential learning. Digital scholarship tools and methodologies reflect a changing landscape in both teaching and scholarship, including innovations in instructional technology, content management platforms, computational analysis, and open-access publishing. Building upon the successes of the Technology Fellows Program (2014-2018), the Digital Scholarship Fellows Program invests resources in faculty who want to both model these changes and help build a foundation of best practices for the campus. In support of the College’s commitment to enhancing academic distinction, the DSF Program will promote the research objectives outlined in the College’s Strategic Plan.

Participation in the Digital Scholarship Fellows Program provides up to $2000 to be used toward expenses related to a project (e.g. software, hardware, data storage, student labor), funding to present at a digital scholarship conference, and a stipend of $1000.

Proposals of no longer than 1000 words should be submitted to Lyndsay Bratton (lbratton@conncoll.edu) by Sunday, December 3, 2017. All proposals will be reviewed by the Office of the Dean of Faculty, the Vice President of Information Services, the Digital Scholarship Faculty Advisory Board, and the staff who lead the Digital Scholarship Fellows Program. Fellows will be announced by December 15, 2017.

Not sure if your project ideas are a good fit for the Digital Scholarship Fellows Program? Contact Digital Scholarship Librarian Lyndsay Bratton to talk about your ideas and hear more about the program.

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A virtual field trip through the streets of Rome via Google Satellite View

Screenshot from student assignment

Learning a foreign language in a classroom setting outside of the cultural context in which the language is spoken often poses a number of challenges for the learner. One, in particular, is the lack of familiarity with the foreign country’s physical space and urban landscapes. I usually complement classes and activities with pictures and videos representing such landscapes in order to help the students visualize them. However, although valuable, pictures and videos are filtered through someone else’s eyes, are static and do not easily translate into a simulated real life experience. For this reason, I decided to design an assignment with Google Satellite View and let students in my elementary Italian class take a virtual tour of Rome.

The purpose of the class assignment was both cultural and linguistic. I wanted to engage students in the exploration of the Italian urban landscapes and let them familiarize themselves with popular touristic and typical residential areas of Rome. I also wanted to provide opportunities for meaningful connections and a first-hand experience that would simulate a real life experience and foster acquisition of basic vocabulary, as well as practice writing sentences.

Students were asked to work in groups, use the 3D Satellite View in Google Maps and “walk” around a few important landmarks of the city of Rome as well as a typical residential neighborhood. They were asked to take snapshots of those sites, of the details of the surroundings and of the people they encountered. They were then asked to create Google Slides to post their shots, label items in the pictures and write sentences for what they saw. They engaged in a virtual exploration of parts of Rome I wanted them to experience “first hand” and use the language learned so far to describe that experience.

Screenshot of student work

The assignment was a success as all students found it useful, interesting, and fun. There were no issues with the technology as students were quite proficient in the use of Google Maps and Google Slides, as well as taking screenshots. One thing they learned, though, was that it only takes a .it as opposed to .com to switch from the American to the Italian version of Google Maps.

On the basis of students’ exit feedback, I can happily say that the goals of the assignments were met. Here are some comments from the students:

  1. It was really cool almost like being there in person
  2. Residential areas are really different from tourist areas
  3. Getting to explore the country of the language we are trying to learn always makes what we are learning seem more real
  4. Effective way to practice vocabulary and writing sentences

In general, comments were highly positive and these, in particular, testify to the effectiveness of the assignment. Overall a good use of a class period!

Leveling the Playing Field with DELI

Three years ago in my Costume History class, I noticed that students with access to color printouts and Photoshop were producing higher quality work on their assignments. Committed to creating a more equitable learning environment, I made an appointment with Digital Scholarship and Visual Resources Librarian, Lyndsay Bratton, to discuss ways that the College’s DELI program might help level the playing field in my class. After some collective brainstorming, Lyndsay suggested that I integrate DELI iPad loaners into the course and recommended the Skitch, Paper, and Morpholio applications as potential digital tools. After some testing, I decided to go with Skitch, because its intuitive interface allows users to label, caption, and markup imported images on both the iPad and Mac.

Fast forward to fall 2015 and the introduction of iPads into my Costume History course. After giving students guidelines on how to successfully complete their weekly “costume research dossiers,” an assignment in which they must accurately locate, cite and label images of historical western dress, Lyndsay stopped by to distribute iPads, chargers, and styluses. She took time to walk students through the iPad’s various functions and together we familiarized them with Skitch, Google Drive, Pinterest, Vogue Runway, and the many other applications she generously installed onto everyone’s tablets. After solving some minor tech issues, the class quickly acclimated to the new technology. The ultimate test finally revealed itself when the first round of annotated images were due. Not surprisingly, the clarity/quality of work executed with the aid of Skitch showed a vast, across-the-board improvement compared to assignments submitted the previous year.

To conclude, I recently completed my third round of teaching with iPads and I find that the majority of students appreciate the opportunity to borrow the devices. Some said they thought the Skitch app worked better on their personal laptops and a small minority found borrowing an iPad burdensome. Since my goal is to create equal access and not to add more stress, I make borrowing completely optional. This policy has the added benefit of freeing up limited resources for the DELI program to accommodate more classes.


Note: To participate in the DELI program, proposals for Spring 2018 are due Wednesday, November 15!

Getting It Together! Teaching with Digital Portfolios: Part 2

Partial screenshot of “Extracurriculars” page in a student portfolio.

This is the second of two posts in which professors Ari Rotramel (GWS) and Sabrina Notarfrancisco (Theater) team up to share their experiences teaching with digital portfolios.

Preparing for Graduation through Eportfolio Work

Last spring, I worked with Jessica McCullough to integrate the digital portfolio platform, Digication, into the newly offered Gender and Women’s Studies Senior Capstone course. Connecticut College’s Digication page is here and you can visit also their company’s site for more information here. Even better, you can set up a time to meet with Jessica McCullough to chat!

Sidenote: Digication holds possibilities for students tracking and reflecting on their work throughout their studies. E-portfolios are worth considering as an option both for Pathways and majors to support student learning. It is particularly disappointing when students lose an important assignment they had in a lower-level course, and an e-portfolio could help both with preservation, considering why their work matters, as well as making connections across experiences.

Back to the course… Students were assigned to create a basic portfolio that addressed proposed areas like their “about me” page, coursework, extracurricular activities, and five year plan. The aim was to help them to pull together their work and develop a more professional online presence (they could choose to make their portfolio publicly available). Digication was an attractive option because it has basic functions that are easy to use for editors, we were able to create a template to share, and it is easy to access student work through the Digication site.

I coupled the work on Digication itself with work within a Google Drive folder where students would collect material and images, as well as draft written content for their portfolio. Overall, Sstudents appreciated the opportunity to reflect and organize on their undergraduate work and future goals. As Digication was in its beta stage, there were some hiccups that they found to be aggravating, and that was a challenge to navigate as a faculty member with my main response option being “Keep on trying, let me know if it’s still not working!” In sum, the platform was a mixed bag, but the overall assignment goals were met and students understood the significance of this work.

My discussions with Jessica suggest that this year, we may want to offer students the opportunity to use either Digication or another platform they already are familiar with (Tumblr, WordPress, etc.). While normally it is an issue to have students work on different platforms, in this case as students are preparing for graduation it may be empowering to allow them to use something they already use while also providing a simple and well-supported option.

Concluding Thoughts

Any portfolio requires taking the time to introduce it to students. We also suggest faculty decide how much direct support from instructional technologists and/or peers is appropriate as well as how much time in class for work, troubleshooting, and feedback may be needed. Students respond well to using technology when it has a practical application, so make that connection in your assignments explicit. They also may be very excited about an outward facing portfolio or prefer to keep their work more private.

Getting It Together! Teaching with Digital Portfolios: Part 1

An excerpt from Misao McGregor’s ’18 journal

In this 2-part blog series, professors Ari Rotramel (GWS) and Sabrina Notarfrancisco (Theater) team up to share their experiences teaching with digital portfolios. Together, they hope to offer readers insights into the possibilities for portfolios in their work with students.

Digital Portfolios in the Design Classroom

In a blog post last March, I shared my goal of incorporating digital portfolios in my Costume Design and Construction course as a way for students to document and reflect on their process in conjunction with showcasing their completed work. I tested a variety of applications before discovering Morpholio Journal, an innovative app for the iPad and iPhone that allows students to combine sketches, thoughts, and images in a virtual Moleskine® Notebook.

I was instantly drawn to Morpholio Journal –  it has a clean and customizable format that is easy to use and my students quickly figured out how to draw, write, and create dynamic layouts with the aid of their DELI iPad loaners. They particularly liked the virtual page-turning feature, a small but splashy detail that made their portfolio-journals appear almost analog. Currently, the app only allows screenshots of individual page layouts to be shared digitally, an unfortunate drawback that diminishes the curated journal experience, but I enthusiastically recommended the app as an option to my class nonetheless. Several students took the plunge and thoughtfully chronicled their design process using Morpholio Journal while others opted to use traditional platforms such as Google Slides and Docs with similar success.

Before realizing how important a journaling feature was to meeting my pedagogical goals, I tested several “photo album” style portfolio applications including:

Foliobook – a highly customizable iPad portfolio app with a minimalist interface. This app looks great and it made my presentations look really polished. It didn’t take long to figure out how to import backgrounds, add labels, control the transitions between slides, add music, etc. I highly recommend Foliobook to both student and established artists wishing to create professional looking and shareable portfolios.

Minimal Folio – an inexpensive application that allows users to create galleries that can be viewed by not only swiping images from right to left but also by swiping up and down, similar to a tile board game. It is a minimalist and elegant platform without a lot of bells of whistles, but still solid and visually compelling.

Morpholio – developed by the Morpholio Journal team, this is another stylish portfolio app with a minimalist interface. It is shareable and allows collaborators to write and sketch suggestions directly onto images. I found this intriguing app to be less intuitive and there are a few features that I still can’t figure out, so if you go with this one be prepared for a learning curve.  

As a result of these explorations, I learned that digital portfolio apps are an effective way for students to document, showcase, and reflect on design projects and can be particularly beneficial to those wishing to impress graduate schools, potential employers, and clients with their visual artwork. However, for pedagogical applications, familiar (and free) platforms such as Google Slides and Google Docs can be equally effective. Nonetheless, I highly recommend exposing students to a variety of portfolio options, especially as they near graduation.

Exploring Gender and Sexuality Through Fictional Ethnography

All sexuality symbolThis fall, I am teaching Anthropology 320, Anthropology of Sexuality and Gender. In the past, I have struggled with this course because a central part of my pedagogical approach is to have some aspect of each course I teach connect to our local community and be applied. In the past, I tried connecting to Safe Futures, Southeastern Connecticut’s shelter and advocacy group working against intimate partner violence. One year, we had a tour of their facility in New London and a meaningful conversation with their employees, but it was clear that our class was taking time and resources away from their work. Our exchange was not equal, and I struggled with what to do instead.  Part of the problem was that it is hard to engage with community around issues of sexuality and gender without undergoing serious, time-intensive training that is difficult to schedule in a semester. I have been hesitant to have students work on a research project because of the ethical issues and privacy concerns surrounding gender and sexuality as culturally delicate topic areas. However, students in this class have always been well-prepared to thoroughly engage in timely topics that impact their daily lives, a fact that pushed me to seek a solution. Finally, in talking it over with previous Technology Fellows, I decided that a website and some creativity could be the answer.

I have tasked students with writing fictional ethnographies about a particular problem on campus or in a workplace related to gender and/or sexuality, like intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, transphobia, etc.. Students will share these fictional ethnographies on a website. Fictional ethnographies are becoming popular ways of exploring sensitive issues in anthropology; I was attracted to them because they do not come with the privacy and security concerns of traditional research. Instead, students use existing ethnographic research to write the experience of their identified problem from a particular point of view(s). Doing so allows a deeper exploration of the issue, and it allows students to highlight often marginalized perspectives. For that reason, sharing them on a website is a critical means of creating dialogue around important campus issues.  In the follow-up assignment that serves as the final for this course, students will propose a series of interventions to address their chosen topic.

Given the applied nature of the assignment, I asked to be part of the Career Informed Learning (CIL) initiative on campus that intentionally connects coursework to a potential application via a given assignment. I will describe more about our involvement in CIL and how we will use our website as part of this program in a subsequent blog post.

Do you have our upcoming Google calendar session on your calendar?

This Thursday afternoon we’ll talk about this easy tool that can help you organize your time and share information with colleagues or students. Learn about basic and advanced calendar features, as well as appointment slots and invitations, that will: make your availability visible (or not) to others, help you streamline advising and other sign-ups, and keep everybody on the same page about time, location, and attendance for planned events. We’ll show you how to sync your calendar with your phone and to control automated reminders.

Plus a special bonus for productivity nerds: calendar integration with other apps such as Todoist and Wunderlist!

Participating in the Open Access Movement

How do you become a part of the open access movement?

What makes it [Open Access] possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.

From Peter Suber’s Very brief introduction to Open Access.

Fortunately, Information Services has the internet and sharing platform (Digital Commons) figured out for you. Determining the copyright-holder is a little more complicated. By default, you own the copyright to all your creative work as soon as it is recorded (online or in print). If your work was published in a journal, you needed to sign at least *some* of the copyright over to the publisher so they could distribute the work. Unfortunately, in many cases, authors actually transfer ALL rights associated with their work to the publisher, or certainly more rights than the publisher actually needs. Depending on the rights you granted the publisher, you may not be legally allowed to distribute your scholarship via Digital Commons or other online repositories like ResearchGate or Academia.edu, provide copies to colleagues or students(!), or reuse parts of it in upcoming publications (like books!).

How do you know?

If you signed a Copyright Transfer Agreement, read the document carefully and ask your publisher to clarify any language that you don’t understand. If you no longer have a copy of that agreement, we can use databases like Sherpa/Romeo to search for a journal and find “a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher’s copyright transfer agreement.

Attend our workshop today (4:15pm, Davis Classroom) where we will help you determine which articles, conference presentations, and other research can be made openly available in Digital Commons.

Impact of Open Access

I’m a young researcher from Guatemala who has been asked by a national TV channel to talk about climate change and hurricanes in an interview. Having access to this highly relevant article gave me the chance to prepare for the interview and provide the most science-based information. Thanks!!

Director at a research institute in Guatemala, from MIT’s OA Stories

I work and do my PhD in a small institute, and even though it’s connected to a quite big university it’s often hard for me to find certain papers. So thank you for providing this service.

A student in the Czeck Republic, from MIT’s OA Stories

Inspiring stories about how OA has helped people across the world abound. Read stories from people around the world that used openly available articles made available through Harvard and MIT to achieve goals. Or peruse bePress’s 100 Stories of Impact report to learn about the impact of OA to institutions, authors, and readers.

At Connecticut College, faculty research in our institutional repository has been downloaded 33,332 times. Of those, 45% (or 14,890) downloads are from the United States, with the remaining downloads coming from 175 countries. Top countries include the UK, China, Canada, India, and Germany. 

Upload your work to Connecticut College’s digital repository, Digital Commons, and make your research available to a global audience. Our repository works directly with Google and other search engines to maximize the visibility of your work. Attend our workshop tomorrow at 4:15pm in the Davis Classroom and learn how we can help you contribute to this movement.

Open Access Week 2017

Happy Open Access Week 2017! Still not sure what we mean by Open Access, or how it relates to your research, teaching, or the college in general? Open Access is a complex issue and constantly in flux due to innovations and changes in technology, federal and state policies, grant funding agency requirements, for-profit and non-profit publishing stipulations, and the culture and expectations of the Academy. This week, through a series of posts, we will explain Open Access with special attention paid to our local environment at Connecticut College.

OA Defined

According to Peter Suber, “Open Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.” Tomorrow’s post will discuss Suber’s last statement in more detail. In the meantime, this video does a nice job of summarizing the history of publishing and the need for Open Access.