Digital Library Federation (DLF) (2015)

Collaborating liberally, creating critically : experimenting with undergraduate digital project assignments; Beyond a cabinet of digital curiosities : collection as praxis O'Connell, Brendan; Salrin, Melissa; Murphy, Ben


Collaborating Liberally, Creating Critically: Experimenting With Undergraduate Digital Project Assignments -- Liberal arts college librarians are increasingly collaborating with faculty on course design to incorporate creative digital media projects into their syllabi, supplementing or replacing traditional writing assignments. This presentation describes a collaboration between Smith librarians and a Department of Art faculty member to develop a unique digital assignment for students, creating digital tours of a pre-Columbian site in Latin America. We believe innovative partnerships like this fit squarely into liberal arts traditions of interdisciplinarity and criticality. Librarians and faculty collaborated to design an assignment and instruction session on the affordances, ideology, and limitations of four digital platforms -- Twine, Wordpress, Omeka, and iMovie -- and help students decide which one would be most suitable for advancing their “digital argument,” creating a praxis of course concepts, thesis, information architecture, and user experience for the digital project. Student projects were extremely diverse, from building a critical Twine mobile tour of Chichen Itza for Chinese tourists to 3D scanning artifacts from the Smith College Museum of Art for inclusion in a virtual gallery. Undergraduate digital scholarship work forces us to work across traditional departmental lines, develop experimental collaborations with a wide range of campus units, and engage students as partners in research and creation. The emerging academic discourse around Critical Making encourages us to consider the designed nature of digital systems and interfaces, then analyze and deconstruct them through hacking, playing, and creating new interfaces of our own. Using examples from student work, we will show how students learned to deeply read and critique digital work, work across traditional disciplinary boundaries, and then make arguments through digital design and interface, along with text and images. Finally, we will discuss Smith’s Design Thinking and the Liberal Arts Framework and future directions for collaborations with faculty members at Smith. Presenter: Brendan O'Connell. Beyond A Cabinet of Digital Curiosities: Collection as Praxis -- How can librarians in a liberal arts setting collaborate with faculty to deepen student engagement with digital collections while also teaching about the process of collecting? Despite challenges faced by many small, liberal arts colleges—understaffing, limited technological resources—we are committed to developing programmatic efforts to help support and sustain digital pedagogy on campus. For the past two years, in partnership with an instructional technologist, an archivist and instructional librarian at Whitman College have attempted to promote innovative assignments that move beyond the research paper by promoting the deployment of Omeka across the curriculum at Whitman College. We will discuss two courses that have made extensive use of Omeka. One required students to create their own digital racial archives to see how this project of collecting reproduced or resisted traditional understandings of race in the American context. In subsequent iterations of the course, students have been asked to make some kind of intervention to an extant collection, thus helping underscore students’ own roles as knowledge creators not merely knowledge consumers. Another course required students to create exhibits from pre-populated content that was digitized with the support of a modest institutional grant. Both courses attempted to introduce students to the crucial concepts of provenance and metadata and to the archival practices of arrangement and description as they apply to digital collections and digital collecting. Our hope is to demonstrate how others, especially those with limited technological resources, can promote similar types of collaborations on their campuses. We also discuss our strategy for small scale promotion of local digital collections and the ways in which they can be mobilized to support undergraduate research and digital literacy across disciplines. Finally, we will describe possible future directions for ways to continue to reuse and repurpose the collections created through these types of collaborations. "Presenters: Melissa Salrin, Ben Murphy.

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