Using online virtual envornments, such as Second Life, in academia.

This is a discussion session about the use of virtual realities (simulated realities as some call them) in academics – from teaching and meetings to collaborations, and any other ideas and applications.

The Ohio State University already has its own island called Minerva in Second Life for use by faculty and students. You need a Second Life account (free) and a Second Life Viewer program (also free) to access it.

No experience of prior knowledge of Second Life or other virtual worlds is needed to participate in this open discussion.


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Proposing Sessions FAQ – part two

We have gotten a few questions about session proposals that aren’t covered on the Proposing a Session page or in the original FAQ, so here’s a follow-up:

  • How can I see all the sessions that have already been proposed? The easiest way is to go to the home page and click on ‘Sessions’ under Categories. It should pull up all sessions and session ideas.
  • What should I include in my session proposal? We would suggest that your proposal contain, at minimum, a brief description of the topic; some information about the session format (Is it a discussion? Will you be working collaboratively? etc.); and an idea of what you want to come out of the session with (progress on a project, a new proposal, some new friends, etc.). You should also tag your post in the ‘Sessions’ category.
  • Will you look at my session proposal before I post it? It’s really not necessary. The program is driven by the participants, and we will have a chance to tweak proposals during the first session of the day. If you really want to run your idea by someone, you can email it to one of the organizers and ask us to look at it. Of course, the longer you wait, the less likely it is that we will have time to do so.

Any other questions? Contact the organizers (Melanie Schlosser or Louie Ulman) or leave a comment.

Categories: Announcements, Sessions | 1 Comment

Web Superheros and Digital Humanities: What is the Connection?

I was intrigued by an article on Fast Company’s blog titled “Content Curators Are the New Superheros of the Web.” The author describes the fast growing trend of curation, as demonstrated by the increasing popularity of Pinterest. He defines curation as “the act of individuals with a passion for a content area to find, contextualize, and organize information. Curators provide a consistent update regarding what’s interesting, happening, and cool in their focus. Curators tend to have a unique and consistent point of view–providing a reliable context for the content that they discover and organize.”

Isn’t this, at least in part, what has been happening in the digital humanities and in libraries and archives for years now? How does the popularization of content curation help our field? How does it hurt? Is there a wave we can catch?

I propose this as a General Discussion session with a potential outcome to decide if there is some action we might want to take. (Pretty vague – almost, but not quite, a Grab Bag session.)

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What Do We Want for E-Books?

Last year e-book sales on Amazon outstripped “dead tree” book sales. Currently, digital textbooks are only about 2.5% of the $5.5 billion annual market in new textbook sales, but in three years it’s expected to be nearly 20%. The Kindles have been one of Amazon’s best selling items, and the iPad, which supports many e-readers in addition to iBooks, makes more money for Apple than do sales of all its laptop and desktop computers combined. iBooks 2 and Inkling on iPad can display e-textbooks with video, presentations, quizzing, and all sorts of spiffy interactives. The new Amazon KF8 book format will allow for rich content e-textbooks. The recently finalized EPUB 3 Recommendation supports video, audio, multi-column layouts, beautifully rendered and accessible math, and just about any form of interactivity a JavaScript-wielding author can shove onto the page.

E-books are here and e-textbooks are coming fast. Consider:
  • Culture: How will they impact our approach to teaching, course construction, curricular design? What are the day-to-day issues that may confront students and teachers using e-books in the classroom?Photo illustration of a picture of an Kindle. On the screen is a picture of an old hardcover book with the text This is Not a Book (in French).
  • Cost: Will e-textbooks do what is promised and actually save money for students (and for the institution)? How will infrastructure (such as our LMS) support them or is the institution in for headaches? If they are delivered on particular devices only (iBooks and Inkling are, currently, just iPad, for example), how do we guarantee student access to these devices?
  • Function: What is your favorite platform and why? What are your top e-readers and why? What does the software/e-reader not do that it should be doing? What absolutely must it do to be even considered for deployment/implementation on campus? Should we be talking about format (EPUB 3) rather than device/platform?
Last year, I was involved in a research study looking at usability of e-books with students with disabilities. In the fall, OSU will be running an e-textbook pilot, and there is already talk of on-going pilots. At some point, the campus will need to develop a “strategy” on e-books — an OCIO committee has formed to begin such discussions. So, let’s talk some more!
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How Video Games are Changing Education

Disucss this chart:

News from Online Colleges, August 25, 2011

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Game Based Learning

Topics: using video games to teach, what’s taught in game and out of game, discussions or assignments & online affinity spaces and how to create them.

I am the coordinator for a video game project funded by the NEH. ( This game will be part of a website that also provides content in the form of simulations and interactives, possibly mini-games and a badging system which is receiving funding from HASTAC ( My interest is in creating a self-sustaining learning community through social networking, crowd-sourcing grading among peers, peer teaching, peer mentoring, informal and formal learning environments and game based learning. I am also interested in assessment issues related to crowd-sourcing grading – in the case of my project – crowd-sourcing the award of a badge, and especially embedded assessment – how to tie what a learner does in the game environment that indicates mastery or at least understanding of the learning objectives, thus, eliminating the need to test, but maybe not the need for outside assignments that demonstrate transfer. Figuring out how to best assess this requires a good research study with excellent pre and post tests – another area for discussion. Finally, a general discussion about using games in the classroom could be great. who’s doing it, how, what is a game, what is a simulation, what place do these have in higher ed. I have created a wiki in Carmen:

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Critical Emotion/Pathos/Affect and Digital Technology

Proposed By: Will Kurlinkus and Katie DeLuca

From Joseph Weizenbaum’s shock that the secretarial staff were nightly confessing their innermost emotions to his ELIZA program to Vannevar Bush’s warning that “If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of arithmetic, we should not get far in our understanding of the world”—emotion, affect, and non-logos based thinking have always undergirded the digital humanities tradition. Yet, whether out of an eye towards efficiency or a feeling that emotion can’t be critically active, this area has been woefully underexplored. In this session we want to do some of that exploring, by discussing what role emotion (and alternative relationships/ways of thinking about technology more generally) plays in the reception, design, and teaching of digital texts and techs. We especially would like to discuss the ways in which emotional responses to technology are not always simply passive or uncritical states but rather are often a critical, active, rhetorical move for a purpose.

Some starting points of discussion might be:
  • Digital spaces as places for the engagement of emotion
  • Emotional reactions to technology as signs of a critical awareness of change
  • Digital technologies as a place for negotiating and composing community identity, values, and changes
  • How technophobia/-philia and the whole gambit of techno-emotions function in our classrooms
A couple texts we like when looking at emotion, tradition, and technology more critically (beyond simply dismissing technophobia and philia) are:
Both Katie and I are coming from rhetorical perspectives on technology and are currently examining ways in which emotional reaction to technologies can be active and tactical sites for community formation. Katie has been studying Facebook memorials set up for recently deceased college-aged students and the way they serve as sites for community formation and grieving in the face of feelings of isolation and passivity often caused by loss. I’ve been looking at how traditional relationships to technology serve as emotionally-charged points of stasis during periods of technological flux where “old” communities encounter “new” digital technologies that sometimes conflict with their ideas of themselves–specifically I’ve been studying the hipster craft revival (especially knitting and digital aesthetics that mimic print errors) as a nostalgic response and re-embodiment of digital loss.

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Digital storytelling with iPhones/iPads

I recently attended a workshop at OSU with Joe Lambert of the Center for Digital Storytelling (who’s been to OSU several times and from whom I’ve several previous workshops.)  This one was focused on stories of place, using mobile devices, in this case iPhones and iPads.  I found this mode of film-making  to be much simpler and thus more freeing than I’ve ever felt with a laptop, while still maintaining all the story-creation and the community-building aspects of the OSU Digital Storytelling Program which I’ve been a part of for the last seven years.  I think it be possible to teach the techology in a workshop at ThatCamp for those who are interested.  Those who are interested would need to come prepared with a brief (for this purpose no longer than 1-minute script/poem/etc.) and a short list of free/cheap apps and either an iPhone 3/4/4S  or iPad2/3.  I think several other who took the workshop will be attending so if anyone else wants to collaborate that would be great.  Anyone else who knows iMovie will catch on quickly.  Believe me, this is almost fool-proof.


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Session on Peer Review

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, in the first chapter of her highly stimulating book, Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy (which is available online), argues that peer review is at the center of all the work of humanists in the academy, outlines problems with the present system, and then goes on to propose ways in which digital technology can be used to make peer review more transparent, productive and rewarding.  I think that it would be useful to have a group conversation to discuss the problems of peer review and ways in which people in the Digital Humanities here at OSU can work to remedy them.

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A national archive for digital story telling

I’ve been working on collecting digital stories from Columbus community members since the spring of 2009. The Knowledge Bank folks have been very generous and provided a portal for the work completed in the Hilltop area of town and will, no doubt, be willing to set one up for other neighborhoods if a grant I submitted allows for work in Old Town, East; Linden; and the University Area (District). Other colleagues around the country in English studies and related areas are doing similar work and looking for a national archive to which we can all submit work. In addition, the director of the Center for Digital Storytelling <>, Joe Lambert, indicated several months ago that he too is interested in an archive of this nature: that one did not already exist. (Lambert will be in town for the Innovate conference next week. I’ll touch base with him again.)

The characteristics of such an archive are to be determined but should include a simple submission process, a long-term archival plan for many media types, IRB approved permissions, Creative Commons-type IP assignments, interactive components, a “spacialized” interface, etc.

Questions that participants in a session of this type might address collectively include

  • Does such an archive already exist? (I haven’t found it.)
  • Would OSU and the OSU Libraries be interested in this type of systems development?
  • Are the OSU library’s dspace or OJS installations sufficient for all or part of this effort?
  • What other HE, state, or national institutions might want to contribute to an effort of this type?
  • What grant opportunities are their for a multi-institutional development team?
  • Can the “tool” being developed be of use to other disciplines not as tied to story telling?

Dickie Selfe.3

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