Laura E. Smith

Associate Professor of Art History, Michigan State University

Digital Pedagogy Institute Conference, Brock University, Ontario, August 2018

In August of 2018, I attended the 5th annual Digital Pedagogy Institute conference at Brock University in Ontario, Canada. I was grateful for the funding of this trip by the Walter and Pauline Adams Academy fellowship stipend awarded to me this same year.

I was basically looking for more digital teaching activities and resources.  The conference did not disappoint.  While DH conference panels still tend to be heavily made up of librarians, and literature, history, or science faculty, I gathered as much information as I could and imagined methods for incorporating them in a visual studies based context.  Some of my favorite tools and ideas are listed below:

1. Several presentations focused on engaging students in digitizing archival resources housed at their universities. MSU has a fantastic Special Collections department in our library and I imagined the possibility of developing an activity related to digitizing covers or illustrations from periodicals, where students could learn about digital tools, and contribute research and visual analyses. Virtual archive visits are also a possibility when on-site collections aren’t available, if the designated housing institution offers such opportunities.  Some projects had students OCR archival texts for keyword analysis. This could benefit art history students in their critical examination of primary sources related to the reception and interpretation of images or artists.

Some tools for scanning texts included those that students could use with the iPhones or tablets, including ScannerPro. [] I’d probably work with staff in Special Collections or our DSL to determine which tools they’d prefer students use.

Some tools for text analysis included one I was familiar with: Voyant. []

Students could develop individuals papers or collaborate on building an online digital archive using Omeka around a research topic. [] Some examples of digital exhibits and collections presented by the librarian at Binghamton University can be found here: []

2. A second category of presentations I thought could be developed for art history classes include those focused on building timelines, mapping, and storymapping. I’m thinking of developing possibly two different kinds of student projects along these lines for my North American Arts and Native North American Arts courses.  Some examples of these kinds of projects are:

3.  Another group of presenters focused on tools related to textual annotations.  Instructors can enhance comprehension of texts by pre-embedding prompts and questions by using a tool like Lacuna Stories []. Tags can be used to center class discussion.  Students can tag or make annotations on items they are confused about or that they like.  Readings have to be in a digital text format in order to use this tool. 

4. Lastly, I learned about interesting collaborations between librarians and professors who developed research and writing tutorials. Professors can assign these tutorials and give credit to those students who complete them.  Some examples shown can be found here:

Given this info I searched our own library at MSU and found some fantastic resources I hadn’t been aware of. I’ll definitely make use of these in the future! []

Stay tuned to learn how I make use of these tools and ideas in future teaching projects!! Thank you Adams Academy!