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DHi Interns & CLASS Fellows Skills

What does it take to support digital scholarship from the liberal arts perspective?

Our institutions are grappling with the myriad of possibilities presented by knowledge access, use, and development in the digital realm. Digital scholarship involves approach (research methods), dissemination (contextualization, publication), and management (discovery, persistence, preservation). Supporting all of these facets can be challenging for a small Liberal Arts College, but doing so provides rich opportunities for significant undergraduate involvement within the research process, which has long been a hallmark of liberal education.

The mission of the Digital Humanities Initiative at Hamilton College outlines the importance of undergraduate research, especially in the humanities: DHi creates opportunities for new interdisciplinary models and methods of collaboration between faculty and students. These activities support a fundamental shift in humanities research, leveraging the potential of technology to access and manipulate rich media collections in ways that increase collaborative scholarship (not only within Hamilton humanities but also, potentially, with other institutions around the world) and lead to the generation of new knowledge.

DHi promotes a fundamental shift in the humanities through new interdisciplinary models and methods of collaboration between faculty and student-scholars, as co-researchers and co-creators of new knowledge. DHi supports innovative inter and multidisciplinary research while integrating that research with teaching at the undergraduate level and with programs designed for a larger public.

What roles do students play in these digital humanities/digital scholarship goals?

DHi has developed several models to integrate undergraduates in collaborative research experiences:

  1. Our Culture, Liberal Arts, and Society (CLASS) fellows program provides students with skills training in digital literacies through intensive research and scholarship coupled with two unique internship experiences. In the summer between sophomore and junior years, students work alongside a faculty member and the DHi CDT project team as a co-collaborator on a proposed project. It is required that collaborative research in the digital humanities be the primary focus of the student's summer work – the equivalent of a full-time job – typically for 11 weeks ($4000 stipend per student for summer). In the summer between junior and senior years, CLASS, in partnership with the Career Center, offers undergraduate students an intensive professional development experience and provides a comprehensive overview of work in their respective fields of interest (budget varies based on remote paid or unpaid internship, DHi and/or Career Center subsidizes internship on a case by case basis). The second internship experience is chosen by the student from an agreed upon list of pre-approved opportunities with cultural organizations and/or multi-media business entities. After their second internship experience students are prepared to enter employment and/or graduate study having mastered a range of new digital literacies and understanding of research methods in the humanities.
  2. DHi Interns are paid hourly wages based on their skill sets and experience. DHi Interns develop one or more core areas of skill sets that integrate understanding of research approach/method with the digital technologies associated with that approach. DHi Interns start at an entry level, perhaps with no existing skills, but with interest in working on a research project. DHi interns who work with us for one or more years begin training other students and working across projects. These students are given increasing responsibility across projects and become our Paraprofessional DHi Interns.

What are the skill sets these students need to be integrated meaningfully in research with faculty?

Collaborative research with faculty is the primary goal of all experiential learning/research opportunities for students in DHi. These undergraduate research experiences reinforce, extend, and deepen the classroom experience by integrating students into interdisciplinary humanities-based faculty research over extended periods. There are two structures for students to enter research projects, as DHi Interns at any point in the year or as undergraduate scholars through our formal fellowship program. Culture, Liberal Arts, & Society Scholars (CLASS) program provides 15 months of dedicated time, expert consultants, and project development for research students with a faculty researcher. DHi research models parallel the undergraduate research structures available for science undergraduates but do so with emphasis on interdisciplinary digital humanities methods. DHi research students make meaningful contributions to complicated research projects. In the process, they learn digital research methods and technologies and develop digital scholarship skills.

DHi instructs students in the research methods and skill sets as they need them to be integrated meaningfully in research with faculty. DHi Interns develop core areas of skill sets that originate from the needs of the DHi research project they are working on and then also learn across skill sets as research projects evolve over time. In the past 7 years DHi research has integrated the following general research methods and skill sets:

1. Oral History Research

  • Methods include: understanding oral history interview technique (different from journalistic style), ethics, legal permissions, IRB policies, research project dependent sensitivities, transcriptions process, emergent theme analysis, coding of themes, language and dialect considerations, etc.
  • Digital technology skills include: Field to Archive digital video and audio collection, delivery, and data management. These skills include Production - operating A/V equipment in a variety of field situations to obtain the highest quality audio/video recordings possible; Postproduction - audio/video editing to combine media recordings and edit for public; Delivery of appropriately encoded video interview for web display and export of a preservation file for archive (high quality archive file); Data Management of video/audio/transcripts for each interview and initial metadata for each interview.
  • Examples projects include:
    • Refugee ProjectNewcomers” and “Genesee Lights
    • SNAP Nathan Goodale’s & Petra Elfstrom (CLASS Fellow 2016) – documentary video project communicating Nathan’s research process from field to lab. When finished, this documentary will be shown at community events in the Slocan Valley research area to help local and indigenous first nations understand the research and how it relates to their cultural heritage and archeological history. See interview with Petra Elfstrom from ILiADS 2016 Summer Institute.
    • Voices from the Water’s Edge 10 year Post-Katrina NOLA Interviews – A sample of these oral histories is available at the DHi Vimeo Channel.
    • Empathy & Social Justice archives – new project Fall 2017 of first person perspectives on education in development - Breland & LaDousa
Cataloging and Metadata for digital research collection development
  • Methods include: basic understanding of data management and digital preservation goals, conceptual understanding of server and systems approaches to organization of information, conceptual understanding of digital preservation issues in short and long term data management.
  • Digital technology skills include: Digitization workflows by type of object being digitized, metadata schema, controlled vocabularies, metadata entry, Oxygen XML software application, Google spreadsheets and organization of file. Cataloging process for analog objects that will be digitized. Basic understanding of how analog and digital derivatives will be related to each other over time.
  • Example Projects include:

2. Text/Image Analysis & Visualizations

  • Methods include: understanding large scale and/or topic analysis approaches to text based research, basic understanding of statistical results relative to the data sets being analyzed, basic understanding of the potential and limits of specific text analysis tools.
  • Digital technology skills include: use of text analysis tools, which applications address the question posed and understanding (ex: differences among NVivo queries, R scripts parameters and associated data sets). Web programming using exiting Javascript library tools. Geospatial mapping and/or conceptual “mapping” of data with narration.
  • Example projects include:
    • The Beloved Witness Archive “Intertextuality between Emily Dickinson and Agha Shahid Ali.” And, the interactive Ghazal generator.
    • Chaise LaDousa & Vicky Anibarro’s (CLASS 2017 fellow) analysis of Images of Educational Advertisements and scripts in India. In process.
    • Nhora Serrano & Amarilys Milian’s (CLASS 2017 fellow) analysis of text and images in the Arresting Andean Images project. In process.
  • 3D Modeling & Virtual Reality
    • Methods include: developing storyboarding and prototypes, understanding and interpreting visual and historical data/documents to accurately translate them to a 3D model or environment; conceptual understanding of spatial data (mapping & GIS) and relative data relationships and how to read them; conceptual understanding of mapping tools and visualization tools, conceptual understanding of graphic design and visual perception.
    • Digital technology skills include: proficiency reading spatial data; Modeling – basic shape modeling; relative topographic positioning; wiring and rigging of characters; developing interactive applications based in 3D technologies such as Blender (modeling and animation), Unity (interactive virtual environments and applications), and web applications development (delivering interactive tools to DHi’s web platform).
    • Example projects include:
      • Kyoko Omori Comparative Japanese Film - Greg/Kyoko/Hoang developed a Virtual Theatre with animated Benshi at podium-reconstruction of a well know Benshi film theater in Tokyo (based on historical architectural documents -Thanks to Kristen Strohmeyer). Preview video.
      • Abhishek Amar - interactive mapping with Unity virtual world integration. Greg/Abhishek/Lauren Scutt (CLASS 2014 Fellow) developed this interface to illustrate the types of filters a scholar might wish to use to access the Sacred Centers archive. Long-term goals include creating virtual “sacred sites” through 3D VR recreations similar to the one at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rf6nCUNjtE0.
      • Soweto Historical GIS recreation with embedded oral histories (in-browser compatible, using WebGL build) http://dhinitiative.org/demos/SowetoWebGL (or, preview video.
      • Nathan Goodale’s & Petra Elfstrom (CLASS Fellow 2016) 3D model & Unity fly-through of Slocan Narrow geography, pit-house structure, and archeological sites for public communication videos about SNAP research project.
      • Thomas Wilson and Shen Swartout (CLASS 2017) Model of Confucian Ritual and 3D web interactive model. In process.
  • Web Development for communication of research goals, results, and publication.
    • Methods include: developing storyboards, navigational layout, production of audio/visual/graphics assets, research thesis, design of form relative to content and intended audience perception, etc.
    • Digital technology skills include: conceptual understanding of content management systems, WordPress, basic html programming, digital asset management, design production skills, basic understanding of plug-ins and api’s for interactive elements of website.
    • Examples projects include:
  • Communication and Administration & Social Media
  • Methods include: effective writing and communication for web and social media platforms, developing communications for social media platforms to connect undergraduates to research and presentation opportunities (Re:Humanities; UNRH; Bucknell Digital Scholarship); basic administrative skills, some project management skills.
  • Digital technology skills include: conceptual understanding of and proficiency with social media & communication platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram; proficiency with web forms and word processing/spreadsheet software.
  • Examples are ongoing communication efforts related to individual faculty research projects and DHi events.

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