Tag Archives: midterm project proposal

Cailean’s proposed projects

Proposal #1     Ethnographic Study on the Adoption of Open Educational Resources at City Tech

This study seeks to assess the impact of Open Educational Resources (OERs) in the classroom. The study would produce much needed qualitative data so that instructional practitioners and college administrations can make informed decisions about how/if OERs represent a viable alternative to the insidious problem of expensive textbooks. The 2012 NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement) reported that many students did not purchase textbook due to financial concerns; also expressing that they believed this had negative impact on their academic success. OERs are still relatively new and as such, there is little evidence of their effectiveness. This study will survey students and faculty who are participating in the library led City Tech OER pilot which includes three faculty members who will each develop an OER based on existing resources they curate, in turn replacing the required textbook in their respective courses. This study will seek to enrich the conversation about providing open learning materials beyond textbooks.


Prof. Green teaches a course in architectural design. She is concerned that the course’s required textbook is not adequate for her students. Portions are somewhat more advanced than the student skill level, while other sections have no alignment with the course curriculum. She’s heard about alternatives to traditional textbooks: Open Educational Resources (OERs). She’s intrigued, but wants to know more about how they work and how they’ve been implemented before she considers if this is the right alternative for her.

Prof. Sage oversees the circulation department in the college library. She is frustrated by the tons of work her department has each semester to prepare for a new batch of reserve textbooks that need to be available to those (85%) students who can’t afford or choose not to buy the text. It’s like reinventing the wheel every semester. Prying the information from the college bookstore as to when and which new textbooks can be purchased is difficult enough. The library spends an incredible amount of time processing these textbooks into the library’s collection. All for what? The books will either be destroyed or deemed outdated almost as quick as the library makes them available. The new Open Educational Resources (OER) pilot running out of the library has promise as a helpful alternative to this problem. But it’s still so new. How can we learn more about the processing of developing these OERs, and more importantly getting information about the real test: how they perform in the classroom setting.

College student Sam Grey regrets shelling out so much dough for her architectural design textbook. First, it’s boring. Second, it’s heavy, and a pain to lug as she commutes through 3 boroughs a day. What a waste since the professor only assigns half the book anyway? She’s learned from a friend in the program that another course is being taught without a required textbook. Instead, her friend accesses course readings and other materials through the OpenLab site. This might be cool but Sam has never used the OpenLab site before. She wonders if it’s easier or harder than Blackboard. How would she find or print out her assignments? Is the professor just being lazy?

Use case:

Prof. Green is admittedly interested in the prospect of using or curating an OER as an alternative to the traditional textbook she requires. But she wonders how the OER will affect her classroom pedagogy. Are these resources supporting student learning? What are the outcomes compared to student performance in those classes that use traditional textbooks? What are some of the “do’s and don’ts” takeaways from students and faculty who have used an OER? Prof. Green will examine the ethnographic study conducted during the City Tech OER pilot to learn more.

Prof. Sage plans to use the findings from the ethnographic study to recalculate how the library may best make use of its expertise and resources in order to improve the OER program, or turn in another direction. She is also interested that students have revealed their need for more printing as a result of taking an OER course, where content is primarily housed on the OpenLab instead of in a print format. She will use this data to advocate for more printing facilities in the library.

Ideal version:

The ideal version will include a formal study including IRB approval and partnerships with the 3 faculty OER fellows. A timeline of the research project will be developed and follow in step with the OER pilot. Surveys questions and interviews will be designed and conducted. The final product will be available as a written paper, including a project website.


Course proposal and research project timeline, along with an IRB submission will be conducted in spring and early summer 2015. Plans will be shared with faculty participants before IRB submission, but once the proposal and project timeline is planned. This phase will include research and development of surveys and interview questions.

Data collection, gathering, and storing will take place through the course of the fall 2015 term.

Evaluation and written assessment and presentation in a web format will be take place during the latter half of the fall 2015 and continue in Spring 2016. The finished product will be in place during the Spring 2016 term.

Current/required skills:

The researcher has knowledge of the OER program and knowledge of how the study can help and impact how OER gets implemented at City Tech and CUNY. The researcher has also participated in the IRB approval process before. Continued research in survey design and ethnographic research methods is essential as this is a new undertaking for the researcher.

Stripped down version:

The most important tangible version of this product would include a working design of interview and survey questions.

Proposal #2 OER Intensive Workshop Day

Faculty are interested in OERs as an alternative to traditional textbooks. Textbooks present major problems both in terms of their content and cost. Faculty’s disciplinary expertise can be harnessed to curate collections of learning materials including open and library materials to replace or lesser the reliance on expensive textbooks. Yet there are a number of skills and considerations around using and curating OERs. Faculty have to consider which resources to include, where to find them, how to navigate licencing and fair use, classroom assessment, use of content management systems, and more. This OER intensive workshop would provide interested faculty with hands on experience and resources to start the process of adopting, remixing, and curating OERs for the classroom.


Prof. Black is very much interested in implementing OER into her course. She understands that there are several conventions in the institution including utilizing the university’s WordPress based learning management system to house and make materials accessible to students. She is not entirely sure how to link library resources directly into such a site. Furthermore, she is slightly weary of all the copyright hoopla. She’s perused a few blogs, and attended a few talks, but she wants to get some hands on experience before she jumps in.

Prof. Mauve leads a lot of college initiatives based out of the it’s center for teaching and learning. She is really excited about the potential of OERs. She thinks that opening up students to more diverse, and interactive course materials beyond static textbooks will be fantastic for classroom pedagogy. She wants an opportunity to share some of her expertise and work for those faculty who may be working on OERs in the future.

Use case:

The OER intensive workshop provided a venue to work on practical skills that can be used to develop and adopt OERs in the classroom. Librarians shared tips on creating durable links for library materials, searching for open access content, and considering different types of Creative Commons licenses for our curated OERs. The opportunity to work with librarians, OpenLab staff, and teaching and learning experts proved very valuable.

Ideal version:

This would include program planning between the OpenLab staff, the library, and the center for faculty teaching and learning. Ideally, the day long workshop would be held during a summer teaching institute at the college.


Phase one would include putting together a workshop program housed on the OpenLab. A call for participants would be sent out to college faculty. 4 different modules would be planned that included instruction and working time. The call would ideally go out in March. Planning would start in January and continue through the Spring term but programs would be finalized in April. The workshop would be held in June.

Current/required skills:

This would require approaching leadership to create this program and knowledge/expertise of skills and pedagogical practice around OER. The workshop coordinator has these foundations but would need to build a committee of other experts to make the workshop program work.

Stripped down version:

The stripped down version would include a central online resource that provides literature and instructions on open resources and library resources. It would also pull information from the OpenLab, and resources for best pedagogical practices as well as examples of excellent open educational resources.

Sarah’s Midterm Project Proposal (2 of 2)

Title: Development of History Engine

History Engine (HE) is a digital history project of the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab that has three stated goals: to be a teaching resource, educational experience, and academic tool. In ITP Core 1 I did a comprehensive assessment of the pedagogical and technical successes and shortcomings of HE; in Core 2 I will implement two of my recommendations. First, I will re-frame online publishing and tagging from a formatting responsibility to an archive-building activity. Currently, the site focuses on the importance of publishing the collection, but presents the act of publication as boring lists of rules: “uploading,” “style guide,” and “citation guide.” The site will shift its focus to how a student’s work can help a future researcher. Second, I will revamp the “Teacher’s Guide” to be more accessible and engaging. Currently, it offers a professor a step-by-step roadmap for thinking about using HE in a course, yet it is formatted as a dry, unappealing word document. I will re-vamp this guide as short videos and exercises in order to engage a professor in “cognitive apprenticeship” with the one of the experienced teachers who crafted the materials.

Set of Personas
Shelly: A student at Miami University of Ohio who’s been assigned to write an “episode” for History Engine in her class on American Slavery.
Fred: A researcher who stumbles across an HE episode in a google search.
Elan: A professor interested in assigning HE to his/her class who’s been forwarded the link by a fellow professor.

Use Case Scenario

Professors from colleges as far afield as Juniata College, the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Rollins College and Furman University have opted to use HE in their classrooms. They may find it through the University of Richmond’s digital scholarship lab; learn about it in a publication by Ed Ayers, President of the University of Richmond and designer of the famous Valley of the Shadow digital history project; or they may learn about it through word-of-mouth from colleagues. Some professors use HE as a semester-long assignment; others spend just three weeks, one “episode.” Most students access the site once they’ve been assigned to write an “episode.”

Full Fledged Version
The first step in this process is learning how the back-end of HE is set-up to understand what is possible. Rob Nelson only (finally) approved my work on HE last week, so I have yet to learn on what platforms the site operates/can interface.

Reframing Online Publishing: A new section in the “For Students” section of HE called “Build a Database” will explain both the reasoning behind and the process of database building as a meaningful part of the historian’s craft. To do this, I will include a (humerous!) video introduction to databases that will highlight the differences between a database and a traditional archive; the potential uses of HE’s archive to scholars; and illustrate the potential pitfalls of incomplete/improper metadata. I can get assistance from friends who work in production as well as free movie software such as imovie to create this clip. I will also create a series of exercises for students to practice proper metadata tagging and to show the potential pitfalls of improper tagging. I would like to model this off of some of the exercises offered by Khan Academy. I have a friend who works there and can ask her for advice/contacts in how I might borrow code or think about writing my own.

Revamping Teachers Guide: Resources for teachers should be dynamic and continue to grow just as the database of “episodes” evolves. My initial thought is to create a forum for teachers to discuss syllabi, assignments, etc. When I proposed this, Rob Nelson replied that they had tried that and “It was pretty much unused.” He continued, “We don’t have enough instructors using the History Engine (probably much less than ten) to sustain a conversation [during any given semester.]” So, to best direct my efforts at improving HE’s teachers guide, I will focus my efforts on creating and administering a survey to teachers to collect assignments and best practices on how to use HE, and find out what types of questions they would like answered.

Timeline and Skills Acquisition

  • Connect with Rob Nelson to organize a time to earn the back-end of HE, identify teachers who frequently use HE, and his assessment of what teachers need/how to design the teacher survey. Continually keep Nelson informed of my progress/check in with questions. (20 hours)
  • Investigate the range of potential options for building the “Create a Database” section. (10 hours)
  • Research best practices in introducing/spinning/explaining digital uploading/archival creation/metadata as an “experience” (30 hours)
  • Contact Khan Academy/others to assess the potential to “borrow” code to write exercises (5 hours)
  • Write, record, produce and edit movie about database creation (50 hrs)
  • Administer surveys with teachers; build and manage a collection of resources they’ve developed for HE (20 hrs)
  • Interpret survey results and make recommendations for updates to teachers guide
  • Implement/publish simple solutions to teacher’s guide (20 hrs)

Minimal Viable Product
I will complete do one of the two proposed elements; most likely the reframing of online publishing. I can certainly do the research and build-out the language to include database creation as an element of the Historian’s job, even if there are no exercises and videos to accompany it.

Gwen’s Proposals

Proposal 1: Visualizing the Invisible: Artists’ social networks and connections


This project attempts to examine and work through two problems, one topical, the other disciplinary. Question 1: As a primarily visual, and multimedia discipline, how can digital tools transform, rather than simply transcribe or digitize, art historical inquiry? Question 2: How can we better account for personal and social influences, confluences, and intellectual history in art history? How can we make manifest these important and existing social and geo-political relations? This project intends to create a visualization framework (and maybe reusable tool) that can assist in visualizing artists’ social networks in order to better chart relationships, studio visits, correspondence, and more–things that can be crucial to social or intellectual art history but can be unwieldy or made into some other obtuse chart in the wrong hands. 

For my research and edification, I will be working with artists and activists of the 1950s and 1960s in New York City, with an emphasis on Minimalism and the Civil Rights Movement.

2. Personas

Nerdy Nosepants is a student studying art history and is working on Minimalism, Pop Art, American art, New York City, or a person/artist living or working in New York in the mid-twentieth century.

Rebecca Rabbit-hole-inquirer is someone who is interested in following the interconnections between different types of knowledges and links, such as those on Wikipedia, but wants a different venue to peruse the degrees of separation between politics, urban studies, or art.

Anna Arthistorian is an art historian looking for ways to integrate technology into her art historical work or pedagogy.

3. Use case scenario

Someone could find this tool on the web and would be able to access it publicly (when it is finished).

4. Full Fledged Version

Working on the model of Linked Jazz I will create a visualization of art and artists based on archival research of Minimalist art gallery exhibitions. Connections would be made between artists who were shown together, between galleries and artists, etc.  An expanded, and more comprehensive version could be assembled using correspondence histories, and could be especially interesting when applied to other art projects, including the New York Correspondence School.

In order to complete this I would need to access the Linked Jazz API, as well as familiarize myself with Gephi and D3.Js (which I have no idea about). This would take considerable time and effort. I would also need to conduct archival research, which is in my wheelhouse but is also time intensive (at least 2 full days archival research).

5. How much time? 80 hours (the bulk of which would be spent on learning the technology).

6. Stripped down version

For a stripped down or streamlined version I am loath to abandon the technology, since it seems SO useful. So instead I would scale down content, and do a sample of a single artist as a model on which to base a larger version. This would require less archival resources, research, and probably less knowledge of the technology.

7. How much time? 30 hours? (again, most of this would be spent on learning the technology).

(optional): Really really stripped down version: list/database of connections that could be implemented when time and technology allows.

Proposal 2: Map of artist activity

1. Introduction

Similar to the above project, since art history already has a significant visual component, I would like to engage with technological tools in a way that helps us understand something about art history that we can’t do otherwise. For this project, I would like to map out an artist’s (or several artists’) relationships to New York City.  Alternatively, it would be interesting to stake out a single place, like Max’s Kansas City, and chart the physical relationship to regulars to the bar and each other. Again, spatial and social relationships are ones that remain invisible in art history, both for rhetorical and disciplinary reasons (consider that few talk about artists/intellectuals that murder their wives/partners).

2. Personas

Nosey Nerdpants is a student studying art history and is working on  American art, New York City, or a person/artist living or working in New York in the mid-twentieth century.

Amy Arthistorian is an art historian looking for ways to integrate technology into her art historical work or pedagogy. This tool could be modified into a course project, or include crowdsourced information (provided it has been vetted or comes from an authorized source).

3. Use case scenario

Someone could find this tool on the web and would be able to access it publicly (when it is finished).

4. Full Fledged Version

A full version of this project could either be a stand-alone visualization on a website. Not sure what the right mapping tool would be; it is tempting to consider GIS, but it might just be too powerful for what I need. Aesthetics is also important, so it might be nice to use something that everyone is familiar with, i.e. for New York to use the Subway Map, or a floor plan (in the case of Max’s or the Warhol Factory or something). The use of a floor plan or schematic/map would also be opportune for historical studio buildings. For crowdsourcing, an ideal tool might be a collaborative sticky-note app with a map background, like NoteApp.

5. Time it takes? approx. 80 hours, with a large part of this researching artists and cultural producers who frequent a particular space, gallery, club, etc.

6. Stripped Version

A pared down version of this would include a single site, and might even just be an image or floor plan with links/shadowboxed information that pops up when one hovers over each individual (using wordpress?)

7. Time it takes? 40 hours, mostly research.

NB–I am really not committed to this project anymore

Critical Digital Edition: Memories and Adventures

Memories and Adventures is a 1924 autobiography by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the late-Victorian writer most famous for his creation of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Doyle was a physician, a Spiritualist, and a prominent public figure. His autobiography describes his adventures whaling in the deep Arctic, his experiences in medical practice, his religious epiphanies, and his efforts as a British apologist during the Boer war. Although Holmes is a figure of central interest to scholars concerned with fin de siècle culture, fan studies, and the literature of detection, Doyle’s autobiography has received relatively little critical scrutiny, and the majority of the scholarly attention it does receive is in introductions to collections of Holmes stories as a source of biographic material. To an extent, this is unsurprising—Doyle’s Spiritualism, for example, seems incongruous, given the empirical tendencies of his most famous creation. However, the book holds some special appeal from a history of science perspective, and an annotated edition, backed up with letters, images, and historical background, would provide an original biographical perspective on the complex figure who conceived the Great Detective.

Memories and Adventures

Memories and Adventures

Minimal Viable Product

 Memories and Adventures is an ideal length for a scholarly edition, and creating such a work would be a worthwhile contribution to Holmes studies. However, the creation of a digital scholarly edition could also be limited to the initial release of a small set of annotated Holmes stories rather than a full critical edition of Doyle’s autobiography, a move that could provide a proof of concept. Thus, my MVP could be a set of critically annotated Holmes stories presented on an existing cross-platform publishing platform, such as iBooks or an open-source alternative.

Larger Scope Project

A more substantial version of the project would be a Holmes digital archive or Doyle omnibus, which would be a much more substantial undertaking. Alternatively, I could focus more on the platform, rather than using preexisting tools to create a larger book-length commentary. This would actually be timely, since as of now there are actually few satisfactory or comprehensive alternatives for publishing critical editions online—most current platforms are focused on textbooks or lack features that make them attractive on tablets. (I’m looking at you, Scalar.)

Whether I go with the short stories or the full edition, an intertextual, archival, and multimedia approach built on a modern distribution platform would enable the digital edition to go beyond critical commentary to include some of the elements of an archive. A digital edition constructed around the capabilities of the modern tablet could incorporate high-resolution images and illustrations, “tours” of prominent locations, interviews with Doyle scholars, facsimiles of original editions, and other materials usually reserved for an archive.





Anke’s Project Proposal #1: WordPress Framework with Commons and Annotation Tool for Literature Courses


Effective close reading is a challenge in many literature classrooms. Before students can even start to discuss or write about a text they have to actively engage with it. But the problem is that the majority of students read texts on electronic devices, especially on their smartphones. Active reading and annotating are habits rarely seen anymore. I want to design a WordPress framework for literature courses that brings this practice back into the (online) classroom. It will include an annotation tool and student community function, so that students can annotate and comment on (parts of) class readings in an online community setting. After basic training in WordPress, instructors can fill in the existing framework with their own reading materials. This will save them a lot of time. It can also help the department streamline course design and requirements, and, most importantly, improve student performance.


  • Willy: a young parttime adjunct instructor in the English Department. Wants to teach with WordPress but does not have the time or expertise to build his own website from scratch. Has been given a mandatory reading list for a literature survey course—a requirement for the Gen Ed Curriculum. Because of this, his students will have a widely varying level of ability and interest in the subject. This framework can help him set up his course site, save him time, and give him an effective tool to work with students with varying skill sets.
  • Beatrice: a fulltime professor in the English Department. Invested in curriculum development and innovation. Currently serving on a committee to rethink the Gen Ed course offerings, reading lists, and course tools. The framework can provide a user-friendly and effective way to integrate technology into the classroom, and streamline the course offerings across the department but still offer each instructor/course the freedom to fill in the course in a way that fits their specific needs/course requirements.
  • Alex: a student. Junior, majoring in English. English is his first language and he generally does well in literature and arts classes. Likes to read. Likes to contribute to class discussions but is shy to speak up. Uses his tablet to read the texts. Online annotation would be a great addition to class participation for him and help him actively engage with the texts, and his peers, on his tablet.
  • Julia: a student. Freshman, majoring in engineering. Has to take literature to meet Gen Ed requirements. English is not her native language. Struggles with reading comprehension. Uses her smartphone to read the texts. Online annotation can help her comprehension of class readings, give her a way to show where she’s struggling with the text, and increase overall engagement in class, even when she’s working on a smartphone.

Use Case Scenario

Language and literature departments can offer this tool to their faculty. In addition, they would offer faculty an introductory workshop on how to use WordPress and this framework specifically. Instructors would then incorporate it in their course design and use it to read (parts of) the assigned readings with the students. Follow-up meetings can address issues of assessment, offer continuing support and function as a platform for new ideas and the sharing of experiences.

Students would access their course websites before class to read texts, annotate and comment on them, and comment on each others’ comments. Passages that many mark as difficult, relevant or otherwise noteworthy will receive special attention in class discussion. It helps student engage with the texts, and faculty align instruction with needs and experiences of students.

Full Version

For the framework to be able to offer a blog, annotation tool and community function to many classrooms, I would need a tablet/smartphone compatible multisite network on WordPress with an annotation tool plug-in and commons function. I have recently changed my course website (courseblogs.org) into a multisite but have not yet made any additional sites. It is already smartphone compatible, and my students already use it on their phones. A large multisite needs a strong multisite network administration. Once the site is up, this administration, plus support for faculty, would take the most time and resources.

Right now the only annotation plug-in that I know is Commentpress, which is not the most user-friendly nor easy to integrate with other functionalities such as a blog. There are other options, such as Social Reader (also from The Institute for the Future of the Book), PRISM (from the Praxis Program at U of Virginia), NowComment, and Annotate.co. I need to evaluate all the options, but in an absolute ideal situation I would be able to design the annotation tool also.

Since undergraduates cannot access the already existing CUNY commons, I want to integrate that function by installing Commons in a Box.

I think the biggest hurdle is to make such a multi-user site run smoothly and to integrate the various functionalities within framework.

Time and Skills

I have intermediate skills with WordPress but would need to learn more about these specific plug-ins. Commons in a Box has a lot of features so it takes some time to learn how to work with it effectively. I would also need to learn how to manage a multi-site and train faculty how to start using it.

As the goal is to offer a framework for various literature courses, I would have to sit down with faculty in charge of curriculum development and discuss the process of building, implementation, and support for faculty. Together we would draw up the design for the framework, so that it reflects the needs and desires of the department and/or the Gen Ed curriculum.

I think it would take 2-3 months to design and create the framework. The faculty workshops, site management and troubleshooting, and user support would be ongoing after implementation.

Minimally Viable Product

The stripped-down version would be a WordPress site with the same functionalities (blog, annotation, commons). Everything would be the same but it would not yet be a multi-site network. I can build out my website to include all the features I would like the framework site to have, and use reading material from a course I am currently teaching to give it content. This could also serve as a showcase for the extended version. I would have to familiarize myself with annotation tools and Commons in a Box and can experiment with it in my own classroom, but would not yet expand beyond my own use.

It would take me 2-3 weeks to build out my site, then a few weeks to test it in the classroom, and another 2-3 weeks to fine-tune it.

(For my other proposal I am working with Sarah so we will post that separately).