DigiLib Blog

Resources: World Digital Library

April 28th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog.

Have you seen the World Digital Library yet? It’s fantastic. In the creators’ own words, the WDL “makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.” The interface, developed by the Library of Congress with support (including financial) from worldwide entities, is slick. Navigation tools are available in several languages including Arabic and Russian. You can browse primary materials by place of origin, time period, owner institution, topic, and type of item. The specific technologies used to create the WDL site are not clear, though a quick look at the home page source suggests just JavaScript and CSS – anyone know for sure?

Events: Zotero trainers workshop at Emory this August

April 28th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog.

From the Zotero blog:

We are now accepting applications for the second Zotero trainers workshop, to be held July 30-31st at Emory University in Atlanta. At this info-packed and fun-filled two-day event, participants will acquire a solid understanding of Zotero’s capabilities and how those capabilities can best meet their users’ needs. Beyond acquiring a detailed understanding of the program, participants will learn: best-practices for demo-ing and supporting Zotero at their institution; approaches for developing institution-specific documentation; and steps for migrating user data to and from other research management tools.

Cost: $350. Application deadline: May 31. One or two people from a single institution will be accepted. More at the link above.

Digital library jobs

April 15th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog.

A slew of them has been coming up. Via DigitalKoans:

More from Chapel Hill: CHAT Festival, 2010

April 9th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog.

From Cathy Davidson’s HASTAC blog:

The Institute for the Arts and Humanities is coordinating a state-wide festival to showcase Collaborations: Humanities, Arts & Technology (CHAT) in February 2010.

CHAT will be a first step toward making UNC, and the Triangle area, a nationally recognized leader in the use of new technologies for collaborative scholarly research and education. This 10-day festival will be an opportunity for local and national communities to witness and participate in ongoing projects by artists, performers, scholars and technologists. We invite you to engage in new media and explore collaborative process through the use of technology.

The festival’s site is here.

Limited spaces still available at the DigCCurr Professional Institute at Chapel Hill

April 9th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog.

Got this through a list:

DigCCurr Professional Institute: Curation Practices for the Digital Object Lifecycle

June 21-26, 2009 & January 6-7, 2010 (One price for two sessions)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Visit the institute’s site for more information and to register.

The institute consists of one five-day session in June 2009 and a two-day follow-up session in January 2010. Each day of the June session will include lectures, discussion and a hands-on “lab” component. A course pack and a private, online discussion space will be provided to supplement learning and application of the material. An opening reception dinner on Sunday, break time treats and coffee, and a dinner on Thursday will also be included.

This institute is designed to foster skills, knowledge and community-building among professionals responsible for the curation of digital materials.

An article, a CFP, and a useful site

April 7th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog.

The article, from the Public Library of Science, is this: “Clickstream Data Yields High-Resolution Maps of Science.” The authors collected “nearly 1 billion user interactions recorded by the scholarly web portals of some of the most significant publishers, aggregators and institutional consortia,” says the abstract. They proceeded to create maps that illustrate citations in the articles with which the users interacted. These maps “provide a detailed, contemporary view of scientific activity and correct the underrepresentation of the social sciences and humanities that is commonly found in citation data.” The most interesting illustration in this context is Figure 5—check out that big white and yellow cluster in the center. It’s worth the load time to view the larger image.

The CFP is for the next annual meeting of the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium. This year’s theme is text encoding in the era of mass digitization. The the first three suggested topics are conceptually larger than TEI, and are intriguing: In-depth encoding vs. mass digitization; Is text encoding sustainable?; Is text encoding scalable? People are bound to talk about crowdsourcing metadata, which I think is the only hope we have of scaling semantic encoding. (The quality control issues, which are the first concern that usually arises when people talk about collaborative knowledge work, are real. But there are ways to deal with them, and data that can be corrected may well be better than no data at all.)

The site I came across today is FairShare. It allows people to track how their online publications are used and/or remixed. Haven’t played with it yet, but it looks promising, particularly in the context of an institutional repository. Imagine a researcher depositing an article, pointing FairShare at it and seeing others respond to her work. Just the psychological boost from that is valuable in spurring future work.

Innovative teaching at BU

March 27th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog.

Today I went to the instructional innovation conference organized by BU’s Center for Excellence in Teaching. Well, the first half of it, anyway: my phone charge ran out from checking my email and voice mail as if I were in the office, and I took that as a sign to go back and do some practical digital humanities: blogging and scanning old theses. The presentations I did see were exciting and diverse. People around the university are incorporating technology into their teaching in so many ways! Here are some highlights.

At the School of Medicine, audience response is used to create an interactive course review session. Faculty are using MS PowerPoint, with game-show-like templates to create review questions a la Jeopardy or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. They integrate this with TurningPoint (warning: ~3min Flash video you can’t stop), which enables students to interact with the PowerPoint presentation’s multiple-choice questions via clickers. The questions are timed—students have sixty seconds to respond to each, and the answer bar graph is updated in real time. This simulates medical board exams, and allows the faculty member to tailor review according to the responses received. For instance, if student responses fell mostly on two out of four choices, one of them the correct one, specific differences between the two choices can be emphasized right there and then. I imagine this also gives the students an idea of how their class as a whole is thinking, which implicitly teaches them about the learning process.

At the School of Public Health, educators are interested in practice-based learning. They asked themselves how they might convey foundational knowledge without using all of the available classroom time for the purpose, leaving time to put the knowledge to practical use. The answer: have the students write the textbook, which is used as the core reading for the course. Fourteen years ago this started; student groups were assigned a topical chapter each, and circulated it to their classmates the week before it was to be discussed. Every year since then, students have edited previously created documents, updating and augmenting information in the textbook. Right now they’re doing all of this in Word and emailing files to each other, but they are looking to transfer the process to more recent and perhaps better-suited technologies. Whatever the venue, what agency to give people in their own learning process! Retention must be through the roof.

At the School of Management, students have the chance to use the Team Learning Assistant web application in some of their courses. Aside from the subject-matter projects they pursue, teams work out contracts regarding their participation in teams: an agreed-upon common goal; performance standards; norms for behavior (how often do they expect each other and themselves to check email?), plans for managing performance and conflict. Participants end up learning teamwork skills that employers look for through mutual feedback and ratings. Because TLA was developed at BU (see the 2004 bulletin announcement), students here can purchase a license for a discount—$12.50 for six months or $18 for nine months—exponentially less than the price of some of their books. Faculty also have access to students’ reviews of themselves and each other, and can monitor both arising problems and how they get resolved. SMG’s next step is to track each student over multiple semester, to give them a bird’s-eye view of how they do working with a variety of groups.

Again at the School of Public Health, in one course students are given a choice: write a standard term paper, or participate in a semester-long team project. They research a public health problem (say, the spread of malaria), and then produce a video to engage and educate the public about the biological bases for that problem. There are many hooks that get people interested in this option over the term paper: they learn new skills; they’ll be authors of videos that will then be made electronically available by a recognized public health organization; they can put this experience on their resume; and who knows, it might be fun. Not to mention all that teamwork. Unsurprisingly, students tend to lean towards video production, and add to the internet-enabled world’s knowledge base.

In the CAS Sociology Department, one professor uses the NetDraw social network visualization package to help learners think about social networks by constructing models of their own. In Engineering, wikis with their easy and flexible formatting capabilities are used for homework assignments, tests and project development. At the Metropolitan College, a computer science professor produces videos for his distance-learning courses using a tablet PC instead of videorecording the whiteboard, and the recording quality goes up significantly.

Domenic Screnci, Executive Director for Educational Media and Technology on the medical campus, presented the Echo360 package, which records audio, LCD projector signal, video camera signal and whatever’s on the podium PC, sends it all to a specialized (not cheap, but reusable!) appliance, which then allows for some editing and integrates it all into a single video. This video can then be thrown on a server and disseminated via web links and audio and/or video podcasts. Faculty have had quite legitimate concerns about this—copyright issues, what if mistakes get immortalized, what if live attendance flags—but all seems to be working out well. Editing is now possible (it wasn’t in a previous incarnation of the software, but that’s the beauty of new version releases), attendance isn’t negatively affected, and copyright, from what I understand, is individually handled.

As I mentioned, the Echo360 setup isn’t cheap; but Screnci mentioned that as more people at BU buy in, the price goes down rather drastically. Interesting.

I can only imagine innovative uses of technology shown during the second half of this conference, which I missed. Happily, the conference was recorded using Echo360, and slides and/or videos will be (we were led to believe) made available on CET’s website.

MLA: print no longer default medium

March 20th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog.

In case more evidence was needed that scholarly work created in media other than print is, well, scholarly work, MLA makes a statement (as reported by Inside Higher Ed):

Even in citations, print is the default no more. The seventh edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, released Tuesday, states that the Modern Language Association no longer recognizes print as the default medium, and suggests that the medium of publication should be included in each works cited entry. Moreover, the MLA has ceased to recommend inclusion of URLs in citing Web-based works – unless the instructor requires it or a reader would likely be unable to locate the source otherwise.[…]

The latest edition of the standard style guide for language and literary study is thinner than the last (and considerably less shiny) – thinner because it is the first to be complemented by a Web component. The password-protected Web site includes the full (and searchable) text of the handbook, plus 200 online-only examples, and a series of 30-plus-step narratives taking undergraduates through the process of writing a paper, complete with model papers available in PDF form and professors’ sample comments.

The seventh edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, six years in the making, is available for purchase here.

Day of Digital Humanities

March 18th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog.

I was going to post some links to interesting and/or relevant news items here tonight. But instead I posted them over at the Day of Digital Humanities blog instead.

I’m not the only one blogging my day today. Happy DoDH!

SPARC 2008 Videos

February 24th, 2009 in DigiLib BLog.

The videos from the SPARC 2008 Digital Repositories meeting have been posted:

http://www.sparcspaces.org/video/tag/digitalrepository08/