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Public Digital Projects for Courses

This guide will help students and faculty create public digital projects, as part of a class, as a research project, or as a way of presenting their research or community-engaged scholarship.

Platforms (presented alphabetically, M-Z))

Mukurtu

Mukurtu, “a safe keeping place,” is a ‘free, mobile, and open source platform built with indigenous communities to manage and share digital cultural heritage.” It is designed to foster “relationships of respect and trust” by including Traditional Knowledge Labels, cultural protocols that allow fine-grained levels of access, and multiple descriptions of each object. 

 

To run Mukurtu you need a server; the Library’s “Domain of One’s Own” is a good choice for Mukurtu. Establishing protocols and defining roles makes Mukurtu better for a longer-term research project, not a semester class project. 

 

Examples:

    Passamaquoddy People: At Home on the Ocean and Lakes

    Tayôshq Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head –Aquinnah Tribal Digital Archive 

 

Support Level: 

Currently, CDS can provide access to Mukurtu but does not provide support for it.

Omeka

Omeka, an open-source program supported by the nonprofit Corporation for Digital Scholarship,  is an excellent tool for sharing digital collections and creating simple online exhibits from them. Plug-ins allow for integration with oral history metadata (more details here), maps, and timelines. 

 

There are several versions of Omeka to choose from. Omeka.net is a hosted site, managed by the Corporation for Digital Scholarship. A simple site is $35/year; sites that allow for more flexibility are $75/year. Details here. For more complicated Omeka sites - if you want to add plug-ins or have more control over the design, for example, you might want to install Omeka on your own site; it’s a push-button install on the Library’s “domain of one’s own.” 

Examples:

Brown Undergraduate COVID-19 Archives (class project using Omeka.net)

    Philadelphia Immigration (oral history project)

 

Support Level: 

CDS can provide support for Omeka

 

Further Reading: 

Up and Running with Omeka

Creating an Omeka Exhibit

University of Chicago Omeka site

Podcasts

Podcasts can be a way of presenting class work to a wide audience. It’s most useful when there’s good audio available: oral histories, interviews, and the like. 

 

Examples:

Public Works: A Public Humanities Podcast (podcast produced by the Public Humanities program)

Now Here This (Brown student-run audio storytelling collective) 

Studio 395 (undergraduate history course podcast from JMU)

    

Further reading: 

Really nice extensive resource with some great ideas.

It starts from absolute zero, but there’s some good stuff in there.

  • The Podcast host
    Really speaking to a pro podcasting crowd, but the site is really extensive and there’s a lot of content there.

  • Beyond the 5 W's: What should you ask before starting a story?
    From NPR -- explores questions to ask yourself before starting a story: What is my story’s driving question?; What is the story not about?; How will I ensure my story is fair to the people and ideas it represents?; How will I engage my audience — and hold them?; What are my dream ingredients?; What will the audience remember when it’s over?

  • Podcast Structure: The 3 Acts Of Every Great Podcast Episode
    Covers the 3-act structure: “you should plan every episode with an end in mind. You should always know where you’re going. Most importantly, you shouldn’t reveal the climax early in the episode, otherwise you’ll never build tension.” Also includes a podcast episode on this topic 

 

Support Level: 

CDS has a simple, easy-to-use, accessible quiet recording space in the Digital Studio on the first floor of the Rockefeller Library. During the semester, student Studio Consultants are available to assist with orientation and setup, and CDS offers workshops by request on podcast production and audio communication.

Scalar

A free, open source authoring and publishing platform that’s designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born-digital scholarship online. Scalar enables users to assemble media (including audio and video) from multiple sources (including archival collections) and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical expertise required. 

 

A helpful introduction to Scalar can be found here. A more complete introduction is here.

 

Example: 

Archiving the Ephemeral: Celebrating Ten Years of the Bryson Collection (a TAPS class project) 

 

Support Level: 

CDS supports Scalar and teaches a workshop on Scalar. 

 

Wordpress

Wordpress is the most widely used platform for blogs and other kinds of content. 

 

There are several different versions are available, each with its restrictions and possibilities.

  • BrownBlogs is Brown’s version of Wordpress. The platform has been customized to connect with Brown's authentication, to use Brown's groups infrastructure, and to contain a theme based on the Brown website design.  Many (but not all) of the most popular WordPress plugins and themes are installed for easy customization. Course blogs can be integrated with Canvas. A detailed guide to setting up a BrownBlog is here: LibGuide to Wordpress

  • A commercial Wordpress site allows for complete control of the appearance and functionality of the site. These are available through the “Digital Scholarship at Brown” Library service.  

  • Wordpress.com provides free, advertising-supported, wordpress sites. Custom domain names, more storage for audio and video, no advertising, and increased customization come with monthly fees. 

 

Support Level: 

Brown Blogs is supported by the Digital Learning and Design group. CDS can discuss the use of WordPress, and provide direction. WordPress is a very full featured website development tool, so it is not possible to support all uses. 

Zotero

Zotero is an open-source bibliographic tool that makes it easy to pull bibliographic information about books, articles, and other media from the web and create bibliographies. Bibliographic entries can include pdfs of articles, and they can be annotated and tagged. It’s easy to create collaborative bibliographies by setting up Zotero groups; these can be private or public. Zotero would be useful for a class bibliographic project, or to serve as the basis for cooperative writing projects. 

 

Example: 

DIgital History Reading Group

 

Further reading: 

Pedagogy Toolkit: Zotero

 

Support Level: 

CDS and the Brown library support Zotero and teach workshops on it regularly.