Digital Humanities is still a relatively new area of teaching for many universities. The broad and varied subject matter, diverse methods, and interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the discipline makes it a challenging one to teach. In the Centre for Digital Humanities Research our student body is drawn from across the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and STEM courses. This means it is impossible to assume any level of shared base knowledge and that students arrive with varied levels of experience and confidence using software and other digital tools. We have embraced this challenge by creating a number of project-led courses where students are given the opportunity to conceive, pitch, scope, manage and deliver digital projects for partner GLAM institutions.
This course is designed to give you the experience of developing a digital humanities project yourself from concept to pitch to development and launching the final version.
Students are able to work at their own level and to develop skills at their own pace in a supportive environment. The course also encourages risk-taking, creativity, and experimentation. From 2019 the course has been run in collaboration with the National Museum of Australia and the Defining Moments and Digital Classroom curatorial and education teams.
The Project Pitch is presented as a Pecha Kucha talk, the pitches are presented in front of staff at the National Museum of Australia and for academics from the Centre for Digital Humanities Research. Students are be marked on presentation, enthusiasm, and professionalism, as well as on the concept for the project and the feasibility of it. The pitch is not intended as a high pressure competition, but an opportunity to explain your idea and get feedback. The feedback from this assessment will be constructive and will support students in refining their ideas for the final project.
Project Plan and Milestones
This is an opportunity to scope the feasibility of the pitch ideas. To identify challenges and hurdles for the completion of the project.
Final Presentation and Project Demo
Students prepare a 5-10 minute demonstration of their project build to be shared with their peers, CDHR staff and associates and staff from the NMA. Presentation should be creative ways and aim to ‘sell’ the final project. They should include a live demo (a video of yourself using the tool) if it is live online, and include a link so we can try it. Can you ask friends and family to try it for user testing? If something isn’t quite working, think about how to address it in a smart way (after trying to fix it!) i.e. can you mock up a version? Can you explain that this is a prototype?
Final Project and Exegesis
The final project build should be as complete as possible. Students will have an additional two weeks after the final presentation to refine/fix or make small changes as suggested by feedback following the presentation. The final project should be accompanied by an exegesis that evaluates the work, explains how it compares to similar projects, details the workflows, and reflects on the challenges and personal learning experiences of completing the project.
Example schedule for the course.
In 2019 students worked closely with the National Museum of Australia’s Defining Moments Digital Classroom development team to create digital projects exploring Defining Moments in Australian History. Students project included in the NMA Defining Moments Digital Classroom in 2019 (launched 2020).
Thomas Larkin – Snowy hydro who’s who game
Thomas developed a digital version of the popular card game ‘who’s who’, where players turn over two cards and aim to get a matching pair. This memory matching game and quiz, produced by Australian National University student, Thomas Larkin in 2019, challenges users to match 10 pairs of cards featuring real life stories of employees who worked on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme. Students then complete a quiz to help them learn more about each of these Snowy employees. The game is a fun way to learn about the diverse range of people and skills that were required to build one of Australia’s most important infrastructure projects.
Play the game here: https://digital-classroom.nma.gov.au/games/student-showcase-snowy-hydro-whos-who
Simone Penkethman – Blue Poles Podcast
This three part podcast series delves into the importance and significance of arguably Australia’s most famous artwork, Blue Poles. The podcast weaves together narratives from different times and perspectives to tell the story of a monumental, abstract impressionist work, and the social and political context in which it was received in Australia in the 1970s.
Listen to the podcast here: https://digital-classroom.nma.gov.au/extra-resources/student-showcase-blue-poles-podcast
Aileen Xu and Sheng Han Moses Koh | The Boomerang
The Boomerang is a short animation produced as part of a university course at the Australian National University, in collaboration with the National Museum of Australia. The animation’s purpose is to explain the uses of the boomerang by Australian Indigenous people in a format that is appealing, especially for younger school students.
Pierre Shasha | LGBTI history interactive timeline 1975–2019
This interactive timeline, produced by Australian National University student, Pierre Shasha in 2019, tells the story of LGBTI rights from 1975 to 2019. The timeline aims to show some of the struggles and gains that Australian LGBTI people went through to achieve their goals. It includes links to a number of important state and national laws that were brought in during this period.
Janine Wan | Fall of Singapore website
This digital humanities resource is to help students to understand important moments that have helped to shape the nation, from deep time to contemporary Australia – a learning resource to facilitate and encourage engagement with the Fall of Singapore. It includes 3D models of objects from the Changi Prison camp now held at the Australian War Memorial.
See the full website here https://fallofsingapore-humn3001nma.weebly.com/
2020 projects were completed under lockdown with resources students could use at home.
Ryan Blake | Three-model
Three-model aims to promote accessibility and interactivity with defining objects of Australian history by producing 3D printed, digital re-creations. Additionally, the project will utilise the technologies of 3D modelling and printing to rebuild damaged or delicate artefacts, allowing them to be brought into the hands of the public as a part of interactive exhibits / outreach projects. This project would enable the National Museum of Australia to simultaneously educate visitors on objects and history that may have previously been inadequate or incomplete, whilst informing them on the possibilities of 3D printing technology. The project was completed using existing assets from other museums.
Dion Tan | Lens
Student project from 2020 by Dion Tan (completed during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown). Dion’s project uses Augmented Reality to enrich the experience of objects in museum exhibitions, including transcribing handwritten documents into easy-to-read text, zoomable images of maps and a 3D model of a sheep to view alongside a real fleece.
‘Let’s get digital’, report by Evana Ho on the course for the ANU Reporter
Defining Moments Digital Classroom, National Museum of Australia, www.digital-classroom.nma.gov.au
Defining Moments in Australian History, NMA, https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments
Digital Humanities and Public Culture: Projects and Engagement course page https://programsandcourses.anu.edu.au/2021/course/HUMN3001
Introduction to Digital Humanities and Public Culture – Tools, Theories and Methods https://programsandcourses.anu.edu.au/2021/course/HUMN2001
Report on our other project course by Terhi Nurmikko-Fuller for the British Library Labs competition, ‘Using British Library Cultural Heritage Data for a Digital Humanities Research Course at the Australian National University’ https://blogs.bl.uk/digital-scholarship/2020/11/using-british-library-cultural-heritage-data-for-a-digital-humanities-research-course-at-the-austral.html