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Penrose Library Blog

Thinking Digitally class concludes

Three librarians — Melissa Salrin, Ben Murphy, and Amy Blau — were part of the instructional staff for a new team-taught course, Interdisciplinary Studies 230: Thinking Digitally. The instruction team included faculty from the humanities, arts, and social sciences, and staff from technology services and the library, and was led by Emily Jones (German Studies & Environmental Humanities), Sharon Alker (English), and David Sprunger (Instructional & Learning Technology). The course, offered in the spring of 2017, had broad-reaching goals: to use digital tools and theories of the digital to explore research questions related to the Whitman campus and the Walla Walla community. Specific approaches that structured the class were text manipulation, data visualization, and digital storytelling.

To fully integrate their theoretical understandings of various digital environments, methods, and newly-developed skills, students worked in small groups to develop final projects. One project used digital tools to collect demographic data and random word associations from students that could be digitally remixed and then used to inspire stories. Several projects included a spatial component of analysis: one project included mapped links to digital stories presenting memories of spaces and places on the Whitman campus; another mapped trash cans and litter around campus, incorporating a student survey and interviews with grounds and food service staff; and a third archived short anonymous recordings of ephemeral sound from the Music Building. Others built different kinds of archives: one featured images, video, and audio materials about Walla Walla’s Museum of Un-Natural History and its founder; and another juxtaposed images of doodles made by Whitman college students, including information on the class in which they were made. As a component of the project, students reflected on their work, answering questions about how they used digital concepts and tools from the class, how their creative process unfolded, moments of failure, and ways in which the project could be expanded.

On May 11, these culminating projects were displayed and discussed in a public venue. Instructors, students, other faculty, and friends were able to appreciate the complexity of these works, and learn from their creators, as they circulated among the exhibits.

Thinking Digitally instructional staff:

Sharon Alker, English

Amy Blau, Instructional & Data Services Librarian

Rachel George, Anthropology

Sarah Hurlburt, French

Emily Jones, German Studies & Environmental Humanities

Colin Justin, Instructional & Learning Technologist for Humanities

Justin Lincoln, Art

Lydia McDermott, Composition & Director of the Center for Writing and Speaking

Ben Murphy, Instructional & Research Librarian

Mike Osterman, Director of Enterprise Technology

Nico Parmley,Spanish

Melissa Salrin, Archivist & Special Collections Librarian

David Sprunger, Director of Instructional & Learning Technology