Collaborations in Digital History

The DePaul University Library is always working to support faculty and students, especially in the dynamic field of Digital Humanities (DH).

Motor Scooter Fun

One of our DePaul librarians, Jennifer Schwartz, attended the Digital Humanities Institute for Mid-Career Librarians at the University of Rochester in July of 2015, where she developed new skills and understanding in the area of digital pedagogy and digital media literacy.

One of the many benefits to come from attending this workshop was her collaboration with Roshanna Sylvester on her Doing Digital History class.  This course provides an overview of the conceptual, theoretical, and ethical issues involved in doing digital history, as well as introducing students to the range of goals and approaches employed by those who engage in digital history research. The course also improves students’ abilities to engage with the web or other digital media as public history spaces, gives them hands-on practice using digital tools, provides opportunities for them to work individually and collaboratively on digital history projects, and teaches them about relevant ethical and legal topics such as copyright and intellectual property issues.

teenage boyRoshanna has been teaching this Digital History class for several years, exploring topics including “Kids in Space” and “The History of Tomorrow.” But this year for the first time, she also offered a graduate augment, which meant that graduate students in history as well as those in the Digital Humanities Certificate program were part of the mix.  The theme for the winter quarter was “How to be Popular” – an exploration of teens and social guidance in the ten years following World War Two (1945-55).

Throughout the fall quarter before the class, Jennifer and Roshanna considered the most effective ways to bring the ideas from the Rochester DH Institute into the DePaul classroom.

Since all of the students would learn Omeka to build a digital archive and exhibit featuring primary source materials from the era, Jennifer developed a workshop for students about metadata, and helped them apply it to their Omeka collection: Post War Teen Tuning.

Graduate students also published a scholarly augment to the exhibit using Scalar, an open source authoring and publishing platform developed by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture (ANVC).  Jennifer introduced the graduate students to Scalar, helping them explore the platform’s unique properties and think about how best to present their research to a wide audience. Scalar’s versatility provides exciting options for those wishing to create non-linear websites that allow users to follow links along unexpected paths. Under Jennifer’s tutelage, the graduate students in Doing Digital History made the leap from users to makers, creating: Constructing a Culture.

Ultimately, the students gained confidence as authors developing public history content as well as DH tech skills that they can put to use as they pursue their educational and career goals.

Collaborations between DePaul’s librarians and faculty, like the one highlighted here, benefit the library, the academic departments, and — of course — the students.

If you’d like to explore ways the library can support your DH activities and the activities of your students, contact your library liaison or Megan Bernal, Associate University Librarian for Information Technology and Discovery Services.

Authored by Jennifer Schwartz and Roshanna Sylvester.

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