Meet our Community Reps: Using DPLA as a research and teaching tool

By DPLA, June 17, 2014.
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Stephanie Lampkin, PhD candidate, History and Museum Studies Program Graduate Assistant, University of Delaware
To promote the Digital Public Library of America to graduate students at the University of Delaware, Tracy and I organized a professional development workshop on “Digital Resources for Research and Teaching Using the DPLA as a Case Study” on April 15, 2014.  Graduate students who are gaining first-hand experience teaching classes or leading sections are often looking for new ways to engage their students.

DPLA Community Reps Stephanie Lampkin (left) and Tracy Jentzsch (right) discuss how DPLA can be a great education tool to grad students in the History program at the University of Delaware. April 2014. Photo courtesy Nicole Belolan.

DPLA Community Reps Stephanie Lampkin (left) and Tracy Jentzsch (right) discuss how DPLA can be a great education tool to grad students in the History program at the University of Delaware. April 2014. Photo courtesy Nicole Belolan.

Graduate students rely (to varying degrees) on digital archives and collections for their research, so we wanted to raise awareness of DPLA as a new resource, and we wanted to encourage students to use digital tools in the classroom.  We encouraged graduate student to think about how the use of digital tools would affect their teaching philosophy through a series of questions:

  • Do you stand and lecture at students OR do you have them host discussions on online forums?
  • Do you present information you find using PowerPoint or Prezi OR do you have them search digital collections for images and audio as part of their assignments and discussions?
  • Do you have your class contribute to a digital project?  Edit a Wikipedia page?

Since technology is always present in the classroom (whether you want it to be or not), why not take advantage of it?

To begin, we provided the students with an overview of DPLA and highlighted the four interfaces that could aid them in research and teaching: Exhibitions, Bookshelf, Map, and Timeline.  The DPLA Exhibitions are well-suited for inclusion in lesson plans.  They are short, well-curated projects that feature different media on a range of topics, some of which may not be addressed in the short class session periods.  They are excellent for student assignments (response papers) or reports.  Workshop attendees seemed enthusiastic about this feature and even wanted to know how they could contribute to an online exhibition!

I explained that the Map is an excellent visualization tool that will help grads pinpoint where resources are available for their thesis or dissertation projects and where their next research trip should take place.  Some will be obvious, others a surprise.  Similarly, the Timeline will allow grads to make connections where they may have overlooked them before.  While students do have access to books accessible online, but Bookshelf provides a different way of visualizing that data.

With swag in hand, UD graduate students left with a new resource as they continue to develop their teaching strategies and philosophies as well as continue their research.

Tracy Jentzsch, Staff Assistant, Museum Studies Program at the University of Delaware

Alumni and faculty working on citation at UD's Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon, University of Delaware April 2014.

Alumni and faculty working on citation at UD’s Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon, University of Delaware April 2014.

Another event held on the University of Delaware campus was our first Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon, on April 26th.  Our focus was Women and People of Color, both as contributors and in terms of the content actually available on Wikipedia.  The event was very well attended by undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty, staff, alumni and community members.  Attendees were provided with multiple training materials to help the editing process.  As part of the initial workshop, Stephanie and I were able to talk about DPLA and its resources, as well as discuss how a search on DPLA can lead to resources for citation of Wikipedia articles. We found that having hand-outs with information on DPLA was well received by the participants.  Since Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced digital project which engages the public to gather information on every conceivable topic, and one of the main premises is that information provided on Wikipedia must be verifiable, DPLA’s resources, which make available millions of items from America’s libraries, archives, and museums, is a perfect resource for a Wikipedian’s tool kit.

Tracy & Stephanie

The opportunity to serve as DPLA Community Reps has allowed us to introduce a fantastic resource to higher education staff and administrators as well as graduate students and professors.  Our hope is that the UD community will become more involved in digital humanities and find creative ways to use digital tools to engage college students.

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