Digital Archive

Just wanted to post briefly to update my application essay. I’m a faculty member at Brown and have just returned from a semester at the University of Melbourne, Australia, where a colleague and I co-taught an American history honors seminar called “American Publics.” Next year at this time, we will teach the course at Brown AND at Melbourne and link the students digitally.

That’s what I wrote in the application, now I have to figure out what I mean when I said “link the students digitally.” I explored and rejected wikis (the two campuses assign different kinds of writing and the students have different stakes in the writing) and existing social networking tools. I think what we want to do is design a lightweight, experimental “archive” to which students can upload texts (scanned documents, websites, images, sound files) to share across campuses. The new Center for Digital Scholarship at the Brown University Library will build a password protected web environment (using PHP and SOLR) within which students may upload, describe, and annotate digital resources. Students will be able to search and browse their resources, and arrange them into sets based on catalog records and/or student designed taxonomic tags. The interface would create XML records for submitted assets and then post that data to the index. We have done this for other student research projects at Brown and plan something easily portable, that could also be used or hosted at the University of Melbourne. We want to make this project experimental and quickly set up so that we can change it and modify it as we go.

We would hope to be able to share such a tool once its designed and tested and would love to hear thoughts about what we should and shouldn’t include and any possible challenges you could foresee.

All that said, I also teach a graduate course called “Digital Scholarship” for humanities and social science students and look forward to a discussion of what kind of tools, competencies and knowledge graduate students need.

One Response to “Digital Archive”

  1. Teresa DeFlitch Says:

    I would be very interested in exploring the idea of “linking students digitally” in collaborative, global projects. I’m currently working on an initiative called the Citizens All Project. The Citizens All Project (CAP) is a new interdisciplinary institute to be offered to grade 9-11 South Kingstown, RI students during summer 2010, in addition to a group of students in Bristol, UK — at the same time. Team-taught by teachers, scholars, and other humanities professionals, student participants will explore issues related to slavery and citizenship. Focused on the importance of local history plus a mastery of research techniques, the institute employs primary sources, local and global history, field trips, new media, critical analysis and best practices in history education. At the outset, students would conduct parallel activities, connect via technology, and possibly culminate the institute in a face-to-face, real time public symposium.

    During the pilot run, education leaders from other countries in the Atlantic world, West Africa, Brazil, etc., will be invited to learn more about CAP and to have discussions on how we can offer a similar summer institute in their countries running at the same time as the institutes in the US and the UK — connecting students worldwide in a exploration and conversation on the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade.

    We are currently thinking about the best way to connect the students digitally. I look forward to talking with you further!