THE DIGITAL DATABASE: A MODEL OF STUDENT, STAFF, AND FACULTY COLLABORATION

AUTHORS


boylstonSusanna Boylston
Boylston is the collection development librarian at Davidson College and oversees digital and print collections, e-resource access, and license negotiations. She’s also worked as a reference librarian and taught numerous information literacy sessions. Her current areas of interest include the development and use of digital collections to support student learning, patron-driven and curriculum-driven collections, digital humanities, and the history of book and periodical publishing.

ChurchillSuzanne W. Churchill
Churchill is professor of English at Davidson College. She is the author of The Little Magazine Others & the Renovation of Modern American Poetry and co-editor, with Adam McKible, of Little Magazines & Modernism: New Approaches. She has published on modernist and Harlem Renaissance magazines, poetry, and pedagogy in various journals and collections. She is also founder and editor of the website Index of Modernist Magazines (http://sites.davidson.edu/littlemagazines/).

EshlemanKristen Eshleman
Eshleman is both practitioner and director of instructional technology at Davidson College. The anthropologist in her is drawn to the intersections between technology and culture. Her current interests in digital scholarship include digital storytelling, data visualization, and text encoding. Her constant interests involve keeping up with her info-lit librarian husband, recreational running, all things Carolina, and guiding her daughter to be a responsible digital native.

ABSTRACT


With their emphasis on small classes, student-faculty relationships, interdisciplinary study, and undergraduate research, liberal arts colleges seem like ideal environments for the digital humanities. Yet these institutions often lack the resources, infrastructure, and research emphasis needed to generate and sustain digital humanities projects. Recognizing these limitations, Bryan Alexander and Rebecca Frost Davis recommend that small, liberal arts colleges forge a “separate path” in digital humanities: “one based on emphasizing a distributed, socially engaged process over a focus on publicly shared products.” At Davidson College, however, we have forged a path that actually combines a collaborative learning process with a publicly shared digital product. Collaboration is the key to our success.

Since 1999, several generations of Davidson College students have built an online, open-access bibliographic database, an Index of Modernist Magazines, as part of a collaborative research seminar. The Index serves as model for how faculty, librarians, and instructional technologists can collaborate to create, support, and sustain undergraduate digital research projects that promote undergraduate learning while furthering scholarship in new areas of study. It also attests to the value and importance of bibliographic research in an era of proliferating digital information and archives. This case study discusses the pedagogical practices that make the Index of Modernist Magazines a model of sustainability (the project is ongoing and ever-expanding), scope (it is manageable for students while also requiring significant research), and impact (it allows students to contribute to a vibrant, expanding field of scholarly inquiry).

Read more

Broadcasting Science Writing: Media Translations in Liberal Arts Pedagogy

Fiss_BioAndrew Fiss, Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing and History, Davidson College. Andrew Fiss is a visiting assistant professor in writing and history at Davidson College, where he teaches classes in the history of American science and also science writing. He received a doctoral degree in history and philosophy of science from Indiana University in 2011 and has also taught at Vassar College. In fall 2014, he will start as an assistant professor at Michigan Technological University.

Vest_BioMatthew Vest, Music Librarian, University of Virginia. Matthew Vest was the music librarian at Davidson College until the spring of 2014, when he joined the University of Virginia. At Davidson, he taught library instruction sessions, coordinated reference services, and managed music collections. He has a master of music degree in composition from Butler University and a master of library science from Indiana University.

Keywords

Science writing; Podcast writing; Information literacy; Liberal arts pedagogy

Executive Summary

Our case study discusses an assignment that asks students to translate a specialist scientific article into a short broadcast segment: in our case, a podcast in the style of National Public Radio’s A Moment of Science (http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/). The small environment of a liberal arts college facilitates this project through encouraging collaborations between classroom instruction, technology workshops, and information literacy sessions.

The assignment challenges students to not only communicate specialist information at an appropriately broad level but also to do so in an audio-only format. Also, the students work with the familiar, popular, and public outlet of radio or podcast, but in an unfamiliar way: as an academic endeavor. So, while students translate specialist texts to non-expert audiences, they also begin to consider the possibilities and limitations of digital broadcast content.

The case study provides further context for the assignment, giving learning outcomes and sharing the specific challenges and solutions the authors encountered while planning and implementing the assignment. It builds a theoretical framework around the nature of expertise in science writing. In doing so, it proposes a blended plan for teaching scientific and digital literacies in a liberal arts setting.

Read more

Teaching with Twitter: Extending the conversation beyond the classroom walls

by David R. Wessner, professor of biology, Davidson College

photograph of David R. Wessner, author of "Teaching with Twitter: Extending the conversation beyond the classroom walls"

Executive Summary

Robust classroom discussions augment the learning process greatly and improve the critical thinking skills of our students. Our discussions, however, necessarily are limited. We are limited to the knowledge, experiences, and perspectives of the members of the course. With the use of social networking platforms like Twitter, we can overcome this limitation. We can extend the conversation beyond the members of the class, beyond the classroom walls, and the beyond the appointed class hours. In this case study, I describe how I incorporated Twitter into my class with the express goal of having my students interact with a broader audience. The results were encouraging. First, several non-class members regularly tweeted using our class hashtag. Each of them provided an expertise that augmented our class discussions and furthered our understanding of the material. Second, the use of Twitter allowed me to more intentionally integrate information literacy into my class. The students thought more critically about sources of information. Finally, this approach to broadening the classroom conversation may allow students at different institutions to interact with each other. Separate classes, at separate institutions, could partner to form a larger virtual community, thereby providing our students with a richer educational experience.

Rationale

Many studies have shown that various forms of active learning improve student outcomes (Ebert-May et al. 1997; Freeman et al., 2007; Knight and Wood, 2005). While active learning can take many forms, most examples involve some form of discussion. In the think-pair-share model, for example, instructors ask students to contemplate a particular question or problem, talk about the issue with a fellow student, and then present a synthesized answer to the larger group (Lyman, 1981; Tanner and Allen, 2002). The success of this approach seems quite obvious. Each student needs to clearly articulate his or her viewpoints to his or her partner. Both students then must evaluate each other’s answer. Finally, together, the students must synthesize a new answer that may or may not perfectly reflect either of their original answers.

While the benefits of discussion-based learning may be obvious, the approach is necessarily limited. Whether we have a class with twelve students, twenty students, or fifty students, our discussions ultimately will be confined to the knowledge, viewpoints, expertise, and experiences of the class members.

So how do we overcome this limitation? How do we increase the viewpoints, expertise, and experiences brought to our discussion? We could make our classes infinitely large. Obviously, that solution is not feasible. Social media platforms like Twitter, however, may allow us to solve this problem. By using social networking in our classes, we can create an infinitely large, and presumably more knowledgeable and informed, virtual discussion group. Moreover, by involving actual practitioners, we can create for students a community of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991).

Read more

css.php