History 250: Digitizing the School Yearbook
by Rich Bond
In Fall 2015, I am teaching a class called “Digital History.” It is an introductory, 200-level History course that will expose students to some basic digital techniques and skills.
The course is divided into three parts: 1. Building a digital toolbox, 2. Introducing the history of technology and information networks, and 3. Collaborative Making. In the first section, which lasts essentially throughout the first half of the class, students will be introduced to a variety of digital techniques (ranging from data and [very basic] spatial analysis to how to create accessible web sites, blogs, and social media). We will approach our learning through a combination of workshops, reading, online tutorials, and in-class exercises so that students can familiarize themselves with how to learn about digital applications (mainly so that they will feel comfortable learning new applications and techniques once they leave the class).
Throughout the class, they will also be asked to create at least three different major (and a number of much lower-stakes) digital projects. For instance, on the first and second days of class, they will be asked to digitize the class syllabus (adding links, embedding photos and videos, and other low-stakes tasks) to explore how basic web site design works. They will also be producing introductory timelines of their lives, using simple applications like TimelineJS and adding a layer to Google Earth (or pinning events onto a Google map).
The class culminates in a month-long project in which students will be divided into five groups and asked to digitize parts of four issues of the College Yearbook. These digitized pieces (mainly photographs of various clubs, events, sports teams, and candids) will be loaded into an Omeka database and coded using a controlled vocabulary that College librarians will be creating in consultation with class members. Once the database has been created, each group will be assigned (or will choose) a topic to explore in an online exhibit (pulling from the work performed by all of the groups). Exhibits will be mounted online, and we will be reaching out to our alumni community to check and improve our work.
The project was the result of a collaborative initiative among various faculty and staff members at the College Library, the College Archivist, and myself. During the last year, we met regularly and discussed what type of project would expose students to digital skills and the foundations of library science/information literacy. We were also seeking create a more robust online presence for the Library as well. I will certainly update this space with how the class is going later in the semester.
This post is part of a recurring series, “DigiClassroom,” highlighting digital classroom-based projects.