In my own research for my dissertation, I visited approximately 60 libraries around the country ranging from the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA, to the Historic New Orleans Collection, to more regional, smaller libraries such as the Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society library in Honolulu and the Delaware Historical Society. Every library had a different policy regarding the use of digital media for research purposes, particularly regarding the use of cameras and laptop computers in reading rooms. Most libraries were friendly towards the use of these research materials, but many libraries and/or librarians viewed them with ire and scorn. In almost every instance, those that allowed the use of such materials limited the number of images to be photographed and/or required a signed form specifying that none of these images could be circulated. Although I was grateful for their permission, I have tens of thousands of images and other similar materials that I can neither use for my own publications nor share among my colleagues and other interested parties.
My proposal session consists of two parts: 1) sharing my own experiences and thoughts about digital research, and 2) hearing feedback from others who have done similar research. Finally, we would discuss if or how libraries are dealing with this issue and what is being done (if anything) to bring about a more uniform treatment of digital research.
Metadata provides structure and organization, both enabling and constraining searches, Big Data analysis and the use of other tools to look at what it tags. It’s sometimes invisible to users, often ignored by them in any case, and yet can heavily influence the materials they consider as well as the results they receive when applying analytic tools. There’s also a deep tension between having clear and consistent tags which convey information in a brief and precise manner, and tags which capture provisional or uncertain information or permit for the range of fuzziness which often arises in non-computing spaces. For example, the metadata on EEBO-TCP texts whose dates are conjectural defaults to the beginning of the century they were likely written in, meaning that various sorts of analysis will find spikes in 1501 or 1601 or 1701 because those dates match the metadata entries for these texts.
I’d like to invite a conversation between participants which considers both the practical, on-the-ground realities of making metadata for search and designing search tools to draw out the meaning of metadata, as well as the broader theoretical issues involved in placing a definitive tag on material which may be quite indefinite. (Does Shakespeare’s [i]King Lear[/i] receive a tragedy or history tag, for example?)
I propose a conversation about incorporating multimedia assignments into humanities courses. As director of the University of Alabama Libraries’ Sanford Media Center, I’ve helped design and support a number of assignments in areas such as English, art, dance, and multiple modern languages classes. Although these assignments are across many divisions, the assignments have a common thread no matter the type of class or technological tool used; they are either asking students to make an argument (defining argument as a composition intended to convince or persuade) or demonstrate a skill outside the classroom.
Some examples of successful integration of multimedia assignments in humanities classes include an instructor in the art department who has dropped paper summaries of projects in favor of digital slideshows that exhibit the creation process, including planning, construction, and completion of a sculptural object, accompanied by comprehensive evaluation of the project. Instructors in English have students making websites to distribute their research and writing instead of traditional papers and instructors in modern languages have students filming themselves speaking in the assigned language for self-evaluation and instructor feedback.
In addition to using multimedia as a way to delivery the primary learning objective, students are also learning a valuable communication skill that is becoming more necessary as they enter the professional world–the ability to communicate beyond writing. As technology progresses and affects the workplace, the ability to successfully engage in multi-model communication will continue to increase inn value. These multimedia and communication skills are most clearly evident in the assignments that require students to present an argument of some type.
Possible suggested discussion topics include why even bother with media assignments, different types of assignments (e.g. video, audio, web, etc.), creating achievable assignments by determining useful expectations, rubric elements for assignment evaluation, and discussing some of the many tools that can be used for multimedia projects.
Finding the professional or academic conversations can be hard enough, but once you are keyed in, how do keep track of them and stay engaged? On Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, lots of people are talking, but how to do you listen? I can show you what’s worked for me, but I would also like to know what works for you. Come ready to play around and share.
Prerequisites: Helpful to have some accounts already set up on some of the following – Facebook and/or Twitter, Hootesuite or Tweetdeck or Bufferapp.com. If you played with IFTTT.com then bring that account information with you too!
Difficulty level of session: Introductory, but also dependent on the experience of folks who come to play.
I gave up keeping up with ALL the new apps and digital tools long ago. Still, there are some that I know I could not manage without. Do you have any like that? Feel like sharing?
How about a little “show and tell” session to share our favorite working tools? They don’t need to be the latest, greatest thing, just something you actually use everyday for keeping yourself on task, foster creativity, managing projects, teaching, learning, or research.
The rise of social media has allowed scholars and students to connect and discuss texts, events, and issues in ways that were previously unimaginable. Synchronous and asynchronous discussions can spark at any moment and connect learners across time zones and disciplines. But each new tool comes with its own set of challenges.
Rates of popular participation in discussions of society, culture, media, and social justice online are astounding, but many of the tools used to foster those discussions seem to encourage sound bite replication instead of dialogue. Those with unpopular views are sometimes silenced through network attacks or even violent threats, and users are likely to only follow and participate in groups of those with whom they already agree. How do we foster meaningful dialogues and promote critical thinking skills for students in the middle of a tl;dr culture?
To start this proposal off with a grotesquely bland statement, it often seems easier to incorporate new technologies into some classrooms than into others. In the English department, for example, composition classes (the bulk of which are first-year writing courses required for all incoming students) have been the swiftest to integrate everything from social media, blogs, and message boards to technological collaboration aids and even new digital humanities resources (including open access textbook alternatives, freeware citation managers, and other online tools). Both the pedagogical turn toward more collaborative classrooms and the real world applicability of the skills learned in these courses has made these resources a natural fit in these situations.
The situation in the literature classroom can be a bit more difficult. Structural concerns (large lecture classes with 150 students) or content concerns (a syllabus crammed with works from a distant time and place) often require a healthy dose of lecture and discussion or even just lecture to help students grasp historical, cultural, linguistic, and literary elements and conventions. In classes of this type, students often need to be guided together through understanding the context of the work and the work itself in a way that does not lend itself (at least much of the time) to these collaborative classrooms, either of the individualized (every student working on his or her own interest) or collaborative (students working in groups to puzzle things out) variety.
This may seem exclusively a pedagogical question rather than a technological one, but there are certainly technological implications; to put it succinctly, the same thing that works for the composition classes does not always work as well in the nearby literature ones. Lit teachers might wish to shift to open access textbooks, but editorial questions and concerns about textual variance (particularly with contested texts like Shakespeare) might keep them anchored to traditional editions. Informal writing such as blog posts, message boards, and so forth must often be passed through plagiarism software due to the higher prevalence of misconduct in these classes at a sacrifice of either the original intended informality or a lot of professorial time. Some resources, most notably digitized archives (like Early English Books Online) and other online information repositories (The OED for example) easily fit within such classrooms, but how else can we embrace new tools in these courses? How can we best retain what works well in the literature classroom while still taking advantage of advances in technology?
As an archivist, I post content to my website but have fallen behind a bit in knowing the tools my users use and how to prepare my materials for them. As a teacher, F2F and online, I want to know how to integrate digital tools into my coursework and which tools I should teach to my students. As a community historian, I hope to provide info to a rising generation of avocational historians and need to know how they access that info. I need to listen more than talk, and though other sessions cover at least some of my personal concerns, I’d love the opportunity to hear about more tools and strategies from the makers and users assembled here.