For this semester long engagement, the librarian worked with the instructor to incorporate campus collections into a capstone project, a public-facing digital exhibit in Omeka. Here is the Course Guide created for students.
My approach to teaching with archives and special collections is inquiry-based rather than argument-based. This teaches students to ask questions about primary sources and pursue the answers to those questions in secondary research.
Updated spring 2017
Working directly with materials gets undergraduates comfortable working with primary source documents and artifacts. With a librarian and/or an archivist present, students can ask questions about the collection, collecting practices and avenues for further research.
If you are assigning a public-facing project, it's important to teach students about the responsibilities they assume when they digitize items from collections.
Choose Omeka for your course of you want your students to create exhibits and if you want them to engage meaningfully with metadata creation.
Teaching students how to create metadata teaches them that describing items is not a judgment-free decision; it affects those whom we describe and how people find these materials. As such, metadata creation is a responsibility we undertake in public-facing projects.
Note about tags: Omeka, and other software like Scalar and WordPress, allows students to create tags. Emphasize to students that tagging in collaborative projects is a collaborative effort as it connects items within a larger site.
Updated: June 2017
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