Tag: Digital Humanities (Page 1 of 5)

Omeka of One’s Own

One of the recurring concerns/complaints surrounding the Domain of One’s Own project is the inescapability of WordPress. Most students and faculty on OU Create and other Domains projects use WordPress sites, either for personal portfolios or class blogs. As a counterpoint, I wanted to feature a few of the Omeka sites that that have been built on OU Create in the past few months.

OmekaLogoLike WordPress, Omeka is a php based platform with a one-click installer in Reclaim Hosting environments. Unlike WordPress, Omeka is not built for blogging but rather for cataloguing. Omeka is particularly useful for collecting meta-data about documents, images, movies, baseball cards, or other media. It was originally developed and is still maintained by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

Below are screenshots of several OU projects along with the creators’ descriptions of each. You can click on the image to go to the project’s site.

Water

The Carl Albert Center’s Local Digital History Lab is a project based initiative that focuses on preserving history and highlighting important policy issues in the state of Oklahoma. It combines the archival resources at the Center with materials and experiences donated by the public. The first series of lab events focus on the intersection between environment, extreme weather, and public policy in the state.

Each lab bolsters connections between archival collections and the communities they serve. The events also contextualize important issues by organizing community digitization events and making harvested materials available to the public online.

The site features archival materials made available by the Carl Albert Center Congressional and Political Collections, the City of Tulsa Engineering Services Department, and members of the public. It includes over 4,000 pages of digitized text, 255 photographs, 90 maps, and over 100 minutes of oral history.

New Deal

The United States changed rapidly during the 1930s in response to a series of economic, environmental, and social factors. The Great Depression transformed the relationship between the national government and its citizens. The physical landscape was also altered through massive public works projects and conservation initiations. Moreover, this was one of the richest periods of creative cultural activity the nation has seen.

Created by students at the University of Oklahoma, this site documents and explores the 1930s and its enduring legacies in Oklahoma. Please explore the digital exhibits and collection of photographs, documents, videos, and maps discovered and created during the research process.

Visit the About This Project Page to learn about the creation of the site.

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One of the professors from the Making Modern America project, David Wrobel, has continued his use of Omeka in a follow up class on John Steinbeck’s literature. Working again with librarian extraordinaire Sarah Clayton, Dave’s students are putting together exhibits examining the various facets of Steinbeck’s work from his travels, to his work on the War and his relationship with Oklahoma.

VITAL

Videos for Italian Teaching and Learning is a curated database of openly available videos. Daniela Busciglio and her collaborators are collecting and tagging videos to help students work on various grammatical and thematic concepts. By sharing these videos online, Daniela can share these resources with undergraduates at OU, and with learners of all levels and at all schools.

Women's Advocacy Network

In January 2017, 13 members of WAN’s Gulu subgroup worked with faculty and students from the University of Oklahoma to conduct a “Photovoice” project. Photovoice is a method that combines the power of photography with critical group reflection to interrogate everyday aspects of life.

The project began with each WAN participant creating individual photos intended to show elements of daily life, including both life-giving aspects, but also significant challenges. Many participants chose to recreate memories from life in captivity. Others focused on how they live now. After the individual photography, the participants used the photos to teach each other about their own perspectives and to discuss common themes and desires for change in northern Uganda. The exhibit presents photos from each participant along with her personal statement.

The goals of the both the project and this exhibit are twofold. First, the photographs are meant to teach the viewer about the participants’ lives, their concerns, and their desires for change.  Second, the project is intended as an opportunity for the participants to reflect on their priorities and WAN’s activities aimed at improving conditions for women in post-conflict northern Uganda.

Documentary Narrative

Focusing on the history of race and education in Oklahoma, students will utilize this platform to gather and discuss primary sources that inform the rich and complicated history of the state around schooling concerns. For students engaging in historical projects, it is essential to critically examine not only literature that informs our field, but similarly engage in research projects within classes that will put theory into practice. This course, Documentary and Narrative, examines problems and methods of non-empirical/non-experimental research in history of education.  Particular attention will be paid to qualitative methods that collect data from documents, from oral history interviews, and from observations and experiences in settings that utilize approaches related to case study and narrative inquiry techniques.  Use of primary and secondary sources, field notes, and case study applications are discussed along with the roles that the researcher plays in terms of generalization and interpretation. Similarly, this platform will facilitate conversations on ways to engage in historical research that informs the evolving technological changes we are witnessing today, as a vital conversation on the survival of the field.

I am Open (and so can you!)

The book cover for Stephen Colbert's book I am America and so Can YouFor the next few weeks, I will be taking a history course, something I thought I would never do again after I finished my dissertation. Shawn Graham is teaching an online digital history course at Carleton University and has opened it up for non-matriculating students.

The entire design of the course is fantastic for open learners. Rather than just allowing us to watch from the rafters, Shawn has set up a Slack team and is active in the channels. Shawn asks that students blog for the course and use github to keep a record of their progress in the coding exercises. The course readings are all openly accessible and Shawn has asked that the students use Hypothes.is so that their reading notes are open (you can find them in the Hypothes.is stream with the tag hist3814o).

For the first week, Shawn has assigned a set of readings on the concept of open notes research within history and the humanities more broadly. Open notes research is more commonly practiced in the sciences. Jean Claude-Bradley was advocating for the concept in chemistry as early as 2006. Open notes science improves reproducibility and verifiability of results, and it also opens up the vast array of information that is gained during research but never published.

Open notes research has been slow to catch on, and it doesn’t take long to brainstorm possible objections. Publications are the coin of the realm in academia, and sharing your research notes could possibly allow someone to scoop your ideas. However, I agree with the readings that Shawn has curated and his push during this week of the course that open notes research is the best practice. Clearly, as I am writing this blog, I feel that sharing my thought processes helps me to clarify my thoughts and develop my understanding of my research. Sharing our reading notes with Hypothes.is and collecting our code in GitHub take this a step further. We’re thinking, reading, and experimenting (coding) out loud.

I am taking Shawn’s course, because I want to see how he uses Slack, and because I think the course design is fantastic. I’m already a convert for open notes research and have blogged about it repeatedly hereherehere and in many other posts. This site as a whole is an argument for open notes research and the related ideas of getting rid of disposable assignments and empowering students to contribute to a broader knowledge community. However, I did enjoy the week’s readings, especially Caleb McDaniel’s post that turned me on to open notes research a few years ago. I look forward to joining in for the exercises next week (this week everyone was learning MarkDown and Git). Most of all, I want to encourage any readers in the ed tech world who have not taken a digital history or digital humanities course to at least poke around Shawn’s course to see the wonderful overlap between that knowledge domain and the current ed tech focus on digital literacy and citizenship.

Digital Note-taking in the History Classroom

One of the projects I’ve been most excited about this semester revolves around an effort to teach history students how to take notes using an online database. The central point of my own digital history project, Situating Chemistry, is that we as historians should be sharing notes, both to accelerate historical research and to model our practices for students. For this course project, I have built a Drupal database specifically for upper level undergraduates to take notes on primary sources related to Spanish colonial history.

I posted a while back about the original conceptualization of this project. Now, we have an operating site:

Screenshot of Spanish Borderlands

The students in Raphael Folsom’s Spanish Borderlands course read primary sources on a weekly basis. Rather than taking notes on 3×5 index cards as we did when I was a kid, the students take the same type of note in the Drupal system. They fill out some basic bibliographic information about the source, write a short summary of the source, and then take a note about an interesting facet of the text.

Screenshot of the Add Note Card form.

Once the student has completed their note card, they can duplicate it and take a new note on the same source without having to reenter the bibliographic information.

There are several reasons why I like this project. The first is that it puts primary sources and note taking at the center of the course. Rather than focusing on lecture or textbooks, students are doing the practice of history.

Secondly, it teaches students how to take notes. Raphael can give formative feedback on the note cards themselves and share best practices. Class time can also be used to discuss the ontology of historical evidence and the epistemology of critical reading and constructing valuable notes.

Screen shot of the CardStack in Spanish Borderlands

Finally, when it comes time to draw on the notes, students can draw on the total Card Stack: the pool of notes for a given source, a set of sources, or even all the sources in the system. They cite each other as the originator of a thought about a source, emphasizing the communal construction of understanding about a historical event. They also cite the original source itself preserving the bibliographic practices at the center of traditional historical practice.

Developing skills is a key part of upper-division courses, but one that can be a bit opaque for history and other humanities courses. We have students read, but actually modeling note-taking and the synthesis of source material can be difficult. This project centers students in the making of a digital resource and the remolding of history into an open and collaborative practice.

Please note: For more information on some of the technical crafting of the site, please read Digital note-taking, part 2. Currently, the course site is behind a login wall to give the students some time to get comfortable, and give us, the designers, some time to work out the kinks. It will be made public later in the semester. 

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