Working at the Intersection of Instructional Technology & the Public Humanities

Let me start of this post by saying “hello!” I started working as the digital humanities graduate fellow with the ITG last August, but am only now trying my hand at the blog.

I’m an MA student in the Public Humanities Program and my interests lie in digital humanities, public history, informational education, and museum studies. As the inaugural graduate fellow to the ITG, I work with staff to assist faculty incorporating technology into their curricula and research. Course blogs, digital exhibits, interactive mapping—this past semester has shown me the wide variety of faculty projects here at Brown. For my first post, I wanted to highlight some of the questions I hope to explore during my time here at the ITG.

What is the relationship between creators, audience, medium and message?
Digital learning projects bring many players to the table. Faculty, students, and instructional designers each leverage their own agenda and expertise. So, how can we work to balance these interests with the resources available? What content, which narratives best lend themselves to digital storytelling? How do we edit and manipulate content so that it translates from the classroom (or on paper) and onto the web?
How can we design user interfaces to maximize engagement?
I have extensive background in and love for graphic design. While my portfolio has focused heavily on print media, I’m curious about the ways in which designers use color, lines, and light to add depth to digital narratives. I’m also intrigued by what interfaces can inspire in users. Do we want them to get lost in the contact, browsing aimlessly through a gallery, or take a direct path through a linear narrative? How do we design this navigation into the interface?
What are some of the best practices in data curation?
With the popularity of digital projects in the university, museum, and other cultural institutions, I think it’s also important to consider the data that drives them. What needs to be done to ensure that the data (historical documents, works of art, or academic texts, etc.) retain its context and form? How can we structure these systems in a way that they can be updated, and even repurposed, by other researchers?
How do we know that these projects/platforms are working?
The most well-written, well-designed project will fall flat if no one is using it. So, how do we measure user engagement? Or, perhaps more importantly, how can we best compile and review this data to not only restructure the project, but also create documentation for future best practices?
What are some of the best tools for design and implementation?
The ITG connects faculty with an eclectic toolkit for their digital projects. I hope to build my own expertise with these various programs (right now, I’m working through a number of apps on Adobe CC), as well as develop an eye for new and emerging trends in digital resources.
I’m excited to see what else this fellowship, and my program, have in store. If you’re curious about any of my research interests or learning objectives, or would like to collaborate on a faculty project, please feel free to contact me at andrea_ledesma@brown.edu.