Digital Scholarship @ The Libraries

Inspiring innovative digital scholarship at the OSU Libraries and beyond

Month: January 2014

Digital Scholarship in Health Sciences Education

Over the past few years, I’ve had to opportunity to participate in a task force titled Evidence Based Inquiry and Research Thread Task Force (EBIR) in the OSU College of Medicine. This task force was charged with integrating principles of research, evidence based clinical practice, and epidemiology and biostatistics throughout the revised curriculum formally known as “Lead.Serve.Inspire.” One of the hallmarks of the LSI curriculum is the idea of providing self-directed learning as an option. To achieve such a goal, the creation of many electronic modules was undertaken by many medical faculty, including some of us on the EBIR task force.

While some of the electronic modules are simply narrated power point presentations, others are definitely works one might call digital scholarship. Some provide a glimpse of what the textbooks and journals of the future could be, with embedded videos to compare normal and abnormal states and other features to engage students in their learning. These pieces of digital scholarship can form the basis of flipped classroom designs, especially when used in conjunction with team based learning sessions, also integrated throughout LSI.

This was a huge undertaking for the College of Medicine and to some degree required a switch in both the ways faculty approach teaching as well as the way students approach learning. In the Academic Medicine article “Medical education reimagined: a call to action,” Prober and Khan discuss the idea of the flipped classroom and the idea of reaching students where they already are: in the digital world. Khan is most notably known for founding Khan Academy,  whose goal is “changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” Previously, this site was known for its role in K-12 education. Recently, the organization has entered the health sciences full force with the development of an MCAT review series and a current competition to recruit content creators for an NCLEX review series, providing chunks of information for nursing students to prep for this licensure exam, all freely on the web. The Khan Academy interface also allows for commenting, publicly calling out specific areas of controversy or asking for corrections – a public peer review system of sorts. Khan has expressed a recent interest in using open access materials from sources like the National Library of Medicine to enhance its health sciences efforts.

Certainly Khan Academy is not the only player in the world of online medical education content. But, the look and feel of their content gets my attention and fuels my thoughts about what digital scholarship in the health sciences could be like. What might happen if MCAT prep tools such as Khan’s prepares a different type of learner for med school, one that maybe would not have gotten accepted before? What happens when we begin to engage the minds of students in the health sciences in new ways using digital scholarship? What new treatments and scientific advances could come from this engagement of their minds? We can only speculate at this point, but the possibilities are definitely exciting.

Digital Futures

Last fall I had the opportunity to visit both Harvard and Boston University. While at Harvard I attended a showcase of digital projects titled Digital Futures: The NOW edition. Sponsored by Harvard’s Digital Futures Consortium the program consisted of three presentations: “Curated by the Crowd: Collections, Data and Platforms for Participation in Museums and Other Institutions,”HarvardX, and Interactive Map of the Jamaican Slave Revolt of 1760-61. I was intrigued by the quality and diversity of the projects. More importantly, I was taken by what they tell us about the future of libraries and collections.

Curated by the Crowd centered on the creation and maintenance of Curarium, a collection of collections designed to serve as a model for crowdsourcing annotation, curation, and augmentation of works within and beyond their respective collections. The Curarium first project is the Villa I Tatti’s Homeless Paintings of the Italian Renaissance. This collection consists of a unique archive of photographs of “homeless” paintings assembled by art historian Bernard Berenson. The transfer of the collection and its metadata into the Curarium will allow audiences to identify, classify, describe, and analyze the objects in the collection, as well as reconstruct the stories of objects that have either disappeared or been destroyed.

The faculty-led, HarvardX initiative aims to develop and distribute online learning objects and tools, conduct research on pedagogical and technological innovations and learning outcomes, and adapt these innovations to enhance the on-campus experience of Harvard students. HarvardX integrates the development of instructional approaches and digital tools across Harvard’s campus by providing faculty with pedagogical and research support.

As an historian, I found Vincent Brown’s project uniquely appealing. A professor of African and African-American History at Harvard, Brown has made study of the Transatlantic Slave Trade accessible in a new way. He created an interactive map that brings to life the spatial history of the greatest slave insurrection in eighteenth century England. Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761: A Cartographic Narrative is an “alliance between historians and mapmakers” that offers a carefully curated archive of documentary evidence and presents arguments about strategies, tactics, and landscape. More importantly, the cartographic evidence uncovered by the project shows that, contrary to previous interpretations, the rebellion was a well-planned affair that posed a genuine strategic threat and not a spontaneous rebellion.

Thematically speaking these projects have little in common. They cover history, art, online learning, educational technology, and myriad other disciplines. For librarians and curators this diversity of disciplines and approaches resting under the digital umbrella is precisely where the rubber meets the road. The future, these projects clearly show, is characterized by wider distribution, uncommon openness, and nerve-wrecking disintermediation. The question is: are we ready for it? The future is now.

Standard copyright statements for the repository

Yesterday I tweeted that I had finally created a list of standard copyright statements for the repository, and why I was excited about it. I’ve had a couple of people ask to see the statements, so I figured I might as well throw them on the blog while I’m looking for a more permanent home for them in our public documentation. The statements are below the fold.

First, some context: We have a lot of content in our repository, and it runs the gamut. Published articles and preprints, gray literature, digitized library collections, audio and video, etc. The items get submitted by a variety of folks at the Libraries and around the university, and so maintaining our high metadata standards has always been a challenge. One place where we haven’t always been great is in providing copyright information. I have strong feelings about the copyright information libraries provide to their users, so it’s embarrassing that I haven’t done a better job of making it happen in my own backyard.

To remedy this, with the help of my colleagues in Digital Content Services and the Copyright Resources Center, I created a list of standard copyright statements that we can use with different types of content. I’m especially happy with these statements because they are informative – not only about the copyright status of the item(s) in question, but also about things like Fair Use and the Public Domain. Hopefully we will get around to applying them retrospectively to the content in the KB, but for now at least we will have something to draw on when we submit new content. I’m sharing it here because I know this is an area where a lot of Libraries struggle, and I hope other people will find them useful. Feel free to copy them, modify them, build on them as you like.

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HathiTrust and the OSU Libraries Partnership (link)

HathiTrust and the OSU Libraries Partnership | Information Technology

The post linked here is one by Michelle Gerry on the Libraries’ Information Technology blog. I’d been meaning to post something about the Libraries’ participation in the Google book scanning/Hathi Trust digitization project for a while, so I was delighted to see that Michelle had done the heavy lifting. Click over to the IT blog to learn about how many things we’ve digitized and how we’re making them available.