From Brick to Click, Overnight

Draft version updated, 5 March (1945, GMT +4). Update begun 28 April. I will update this as I think more. The situation seemed to call for publishing it in draft form as I write it.

This semester all of the instruction in all of the institutions of higher education in my country of residence has undergone rapid conversion to online delivery. Not quite overnight as the title of my post suggests. School and university closures were declared necessary by the MoE for combatting the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

I have been teaching with an LMS and online presence for many years, and with student work in digital humanities (DH) done in web hosting for six. It may seem counter-intuitive that teaching digital humanities online would be difficult, but in fact, an undergrad DH class in a liberal arts (LA) environment isn’t a MOOC (Cordell). In a classroom where there is already a convergence of educational technology, we depend a lot on brick-and-mortar infrastructures (projectors/large screens, standalone and web-based platforms, seating configurations, the ability to move around the room) as well as the small classroom environment supporting both discussion and technical problem solving. The immediate switch to a synchronous online course raised so many issues in my mind. I had to think quickly what could be done to make the shift, almost overnight. I have my last face2face course on 5 March, for at least one month. My course is Reading Like a Computer, CDAD UH-1024Q at NYU Abu Dhabi. [note: Soon after this post was begun, the entire NYU system closed its doors to face2face instruction and work for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester.]

Luckily, the students in my course had web hosting set up and they had grown somewhat comfortable in it for course material delivery and the dissemination of their own written work (we also use Drive and an NYU-wide LMS to manage other functionality such as ). The suggestions for creating a rapport with students and setting up expectations that we find in the literature about online teaching are not as crucial since as I am writing this we have arrived at midterm–they will be in what looks probably to be a partially disrupted Fall term.

What follows are some ideas that I have been tossing around about online course delivery and some thoughts on how the complex ecosystem of an undergrad DH class can be merged more seamlessly with online environments, quickly and meaningfully, not to replace in person engagement, but to merge with it. I have been reading about an idea used in digital marketing to discuss the migration of traditional brick-and-mortar industries, not into fully online versions of their original selves) but rather into a hybrid, omnichannel services with a customer at the center. I don’t like to think of myself as particularly fond of business metaphors, nor of thinking about education as a transactional profession, but this metaphor taken from marketing has interesting resonances with student-centered learning within an environment of multiple channels of information in which we all see ourselves today, especially in the DH classroom. It appears to be the extension of blended learning thinking.

Can the combination of Zoom (the video conferencing built into the LMS), web hosting and other media work together to “help mimic the collaborative environment” of yesterday’s classroom (Bidaisee), or as digital marketing puts it, to allow the users to have a seamless experience between online and in person spaces? (Wagner) Right now the Zoom channel does not offer a cool place to hang out like the Apple Store. Instead, its functionality mimics quite limited classroom interactions and generally does not leave us asking for more. I think that the marketing solution of having a somewhat unified “tech backbone” (Wagner) is right, but what would that be? Would something like DHBox provide that? In my classes, we already have computational notebooks published, but they alone cannot be the core of the educational experience? Will Google Colab or something like it be the place of such convergence?

As we are in lockdown, but will no doubt be transitioning out of it, my gut feeling is that I will plan for a somewhat synchronous remote course in the beginning of the upcoming term in order to acquaint students with the tech stack, one that slowly tapers to a asynchronous or quasi asynchronous course. I am aware that these multiple channels are compromises and will never full be seamless, or technology transparent. How is it that I will insert myself inside and between these different channels so that the professor is still present? On the other hand, when classes resume in person, will such hybrid courses still be accepted, or rejected as artifacts of unfortunate times? What is the “architecture of engagement” (McKay) required to transition between channels? Is removing “friction between touchpoints” a dream or a worthwhile aim?” Is it even possible in an open source DH world?

What I would like to suggest here is that we might recuperate something of the idea of the omnichannel from its inherent focus in marketing on consistency, competition and customer loyalty in order to shift it towards the instructor’s goal of unifying a student-centered learning experience (Lynch). Keeping students focused within the field of multiple stimuli that they are working and helping them exist in complex strands of a course could be an interest point of focus in DH education where our workflows can be complex. Of course, we don’t want to collapse theories of consumer behavior (from which the omnichannel notion emerges) and critical pedagogies, and we want to install in students a critical acumen about those environments in which they are working, but there has to be something we can do to smooth out the experiences of a currently multichannel educational environment. How can we think about new forms of post-blended learning for DH pedagogy? Will the classroom instead become an extension of the class’s primary digital touchpoints–much like the browsing stores of today’s e-commerce ? Omnichannel thinking stresses, after all, leveraging digital platforms as a means of enhancing physical brick-and-mortar experiences. These are some of the fragments that have been in my thoughts under lockdown and that I will be thinking about spring and summer 2020.

Some reading I found :

Blankenship, W. 2019. What is Omnichannel Marketing? https://www.omnisend.com/blog/omnichannel-marketing/.

Cordell, R. 2016. 36. How Not to Teach Digital Humanities. In Gold, M. and Klein, L. (Eds.), Debates in Digital Humanities 2016. University of Minnesota Press. https://doi.org/10.5749/9781452963761.

Lynch, L. 2018. What Can E-Learning Industry Learn from Omnichannel? https://www.learndash.com/what-can-the-e-learning-industry-learn-from-omnichannel/.

Research Instructional Technology Services NYU Shanghai. 2002 “Digital Teaching Toolkit” https://wp.nyu.edu/shanghai-online_teaching/.

Spiro, L. 2012. 14. Opening up Digital Humanities Education. In Hirsch, B. D. (Ed.), Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles and Politics. Open Book Publishers. Retrieved from http://books.openedition.org/obp/1654.

Wagner, K. 2017. Omnichannel: Retail (r)evolution. TEDxHSG. https://youtu.be/5SAtdSM0Trk.

Student DH Zotero S19

This semester I asked my undergraduates at NYU Abu Dhabi to individualize their learning about topics related to digital humanities by building a Zotero bibliography in my Introduction to DH class. This Spring semester I reorganized the course around themes important in today’s society: computational thinking, digital identity, text as data, dataset, pattern, algorithm, network, location, with different experiments that allowed us to explore these concepts along a spectrum of more human- or more algorithm-centered activity. The Zotero library was an opportunity for them to connect learning in the larger theoretical issues with specific topics of interest to them. The students came from a variety of majors: Computer Science, Interactive Media, Arab Crossroads, Art History, Economics, Music, Social Science, and undecided freshmen.

Our Digital Scholarship head Beth Russell came into the class to introduce Zotero as a citation management system in the first weeks of the semester. By week 3 students had picked a general topic that corresponded to their own interests. Over the course of the term they refined the topic, curating 25 bibliographic entries, tagged and organized in foldesr. We got some very interesting Zotero group libraries. Feel free to build on their open knowledge!

Here are the topics that emerged from student interest in IM-UH 1511 in the Spring 2019 semester:

Generative Digital Art

Applications of Digital Art History

Emotional AI / Affective Computing

Human Matchmaking Algorithms

3d Printing Ethics

The Biometric Industry & Facial Recognition

AI and DH

Dark Skin and Facial Recognition in Photography, Cinematography, and Technology

Machine Learning Popularization

Big Data Analytics and Data Wrangling

Generative Adversarial Networks and Fake Faces

Digital Humanities and Education

ESU DH 2018 – Linguistic Landscapes of Leipzig

Below is a map of the data collected at two iterations (2017 and 2018) of the “Humanities Data and Mapping Environments” at the European Summer University of Digital Humanities, Leipzig, Germany.

The first version of the dataset is published here. Overlays use open data from the city of Leipzig.

 

Map created with R and Shiny by Victor Westrich (U Mainz)

Mapping for the Digital Humanities DHIB 2017

Mapping for the Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities Institute – Beirut in March 2017 (5 hours).
@DJWrisley

Description:

This is a five-hour course that introduces basic elements of modeling spatial data for the humanities, data creation with gazetteers and making simple interactive maps with a symbology appropriate to the data.

Outcomes: 

Participants who complete this workshop will

    • understand the basics of spatial data (formats, types, accuracy).
      gain a basic appreciation for the concept of data modeling
    • learn where they can get spatial data appropriate for humanities inquiry, or how they can create it themselves.
    • gain a basic appreciation of the critical, interpretative side of making a map.
    • experiment with extracting locations from text.
    • appreciate different kinds of spatial data curation (manual, semi-automatic and automatic).
    • use geolocation services on their smartphones to generate some basic data.
    • learn to make a basic interactive map using Carto (and within a web hosting, if skill level permits).

Outline: 

(1) What are spatial data, that is, the data we need to make basic maps?  In what formats, do such data come?

(2) Where can we obtain spatial data? How can we create spatial data?  What is a gazetteer?  What is a spatial repository?

(3) Examples of digital maps projects: Edmonton Pipelines, Mapping Dante, Year of the Riot, Harlem 1935,  London Chatty Map, Slave Revolt in Jamaica, Going to the Show, Mapping the Lake District: A Literary GIS, Linguistic Landscapes of Beirut, Digital Karnak, NYT’s pick, Wandering Rocks, NoSweatShakespeare map, (LOTRLife of Maya Angelou, Novel City Maps), Photogrammar, Literary Geographies of Christine de Pizan, Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery, Mapping the Mahjar

(4) Two hands-on examples:

a. Making a map from a text in three “flavors”:  (1) manually (2) semi-automatically using TopoText and (3) automatically using a basic python script (adapted from here).

b. Making a map using data captured with smartphone apps.

(5) How can we stylize those maps and share them with others?

 

See the other spatial humanities workshops and courses I have given. And this bibliography from 2015.

MAA 2016 Toponymic Strata in a Large Corpus of Medieval French

David Joseph Wrisley
@DJWrisley
“Place in Corpora” panel
Medieval Academy of America
Boston, 26 February 2016

Computational models are “however finely perfected, they are temporary states in a process of coming to know, rather than fixed structures of knowledge.” (McCarty, 26)

A view from down under

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visualization 1:  Peripleo.  A geographic view of many different digital objects related to the places of Herodotus.  Click here to explore the same query live.

Herodotus at Peripleo

 

 

Visualization 2: The places of Joinville’s Vie de saint Louis, data by @DJWrisley

places of Joinville

 

Visualization 3: Top 50 Places names in the medieval French corpus.

Visualization 4: The literary geographies of the full corpus of Christine de Pizan.  Open geodata set by myself (about 1000 place names) for download.

CdeP

 

Visualization 5: Full dataset with a Time Slider (almost 10000 place names, 60% geocoded). 

VMP time slider

 

 

 

Visualization 6: A Faceted Browser for Placenames in Medieval (French) Literature (with Stefan Jaenicke, DH 2013) (almost 3000 place names).

Screenshot 2016-02-21 15.30.46

 

Visualization 7: Medieval French corpus place names layover with high population areas c 1300. (base map: Richard Hoffmann)

Visualization 8: Medieval French corpus place names layover with agricultural systems c. 1300. (base map: Richard Hoffmann)


Visualization 9: Comparative Cross-Language Literary Geographies of Marian poetry: Gautier de Coincy, Gonzalo de Berceo, Alfonso el Sabio (Old French, Castilian, Galician) (608 points) (map data by myself)


Visualization 10: Comparative Arabic-French late Medieval Historiography (al-Nuwairi Al-Iskandarani vs. Guillaume de Machaut) (map data by myself, accessible color palette)

 

 

Non-Embedded Works Mentioned:

“Australia on top down under!” Nucolorvue Productions PTY Ltd.

Center for Medieval Studies / Fordham University (2016). Exploring Place in the French of Italy.

Doueihi, M. (2011). Pour un humanisme numérique. Paris: Seuil.

Elliot, T. and S. Gillies (2009). “Digital Geography and Classics“ DHQ 3.1

Hoffmann, R. (2014).  An Environmental History of Medieval Europe. Cambridge: CUP.

Jessop, M. (2008). “The Inhibition of Geographic Information in Digital Humanities Scholarship” LLC 23.1: 39-50.

Mostern, R. et al (2016, forthcoming) Placing Names: Enriching and Integrating Gazetteers. Bloomington: Indiana UP.

Presner, T. and D. Shepard (2016). Mapping the Geospatial Turn” The New Companion to Digital Humanities. Malden, MA/Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Simon, R. et al. (2016).  “Peripleo: a Tool for Exploring Heterogeneous Data through the Dimensions of Space and Time”  Code4Lib 31.

Stoa Consortium (2016). Pleiades.

Suard, F. (2011). Guide de la chanson de geste et sa postérité littéraire. Paris: Champion.

Turnator, E. (2015). Summary of the Proceedings of the Linking the Middle Ages“ Workshop.

Wrisley, D. (2016). Visualizing Medieval Places.