Sep 162014
 Posted by on September 16, 2014 history No Responses »

If you are free on the night of October 14, come to Mr Wows Emporium, 79B Smith Street, Fitzroy (upstairs), to Nerd Night Melbourne.  This is a night were specialists (nerds) talk about all sorts of subjects from environmental politics, moon-landing crafts, and pharmaceutical research. And on the night of October the 14th, I will be talking about the history of Smith Street, with two other speakers (on different subjects).

Why is Smith Street important? A history of one of Melbourne most diverse streets

Smith Street is one of Melbourne’s oldest, most eccentric, and more interesting thoroughfares dating back to the first suburban land subdivision in Melbourne in 1838. It forms the eastern border of Fitzroy, Melbourne’s first suburb, and the western border of Collingwood. It was originally a winding dirt track that went to Heidelberg, being the only road out of the City to the North. In Victorian times it was one the busiest and most important shopping centres in the Australian colonies, until it went into decline in the 1970s. From the labyrinthine Foy and Gibson’s, one of the world’s largest and most eclectic department stores, to secret tunnels for ‘’women shoppers’’, to the first Coles store in Australia, to a long history of struggle between rich and poor, Smith Street is an significant route for understanding urban Australian experience.


Aug 132014
 Posted by on August 13, 2014 digital humanities, events No Responses »


Registrations now open for Melbourne THATCamp 2014!

THATCamp, Melbourne, 2014, will be held at the University of Melbourne on the 10-11 October, 2014 (Free event!)

THATCamp is all about participation, discussion, and fun through fostering a productive, collegial environment. The program for THATCamp is created and managed by participants on the day who vote on the sessions proposed.

In preparation for the event we ask you to start thinking about some potential topics to workshop on the day. The core theme of THATCamp Melbourne is pedagogy, although any aspect of digital humanities work is welcome.

To get the ball rolling, here are some suggestions: ‘blended learning’ in humanities teaching,  spaces for learning with technology, the creation, access and critical use of digital resources in teaching; grading and assessment through learning management systems,  social media in the humanities, for instance sentiment analysis, visualisation of historical phenomena, or MOOCs in the DH.

We look forward to your proposals,

Kind regards,

Amanda, Craig, and Fiona

Jun 242014
 Posted by on June 24, 2014 collaboration No Responses »

There are now many different products available for collaborative authoring of documents. The choice of which software to use depends on the particular type of authoring task being undertaken and the nature of the group undertaking the tasks. In academic work, the collaborative authoring of papers has become much more common, supported by products such as Microsoft Office, Google Docs or lesser known services such as Wiggio. However, the writing of academic articles is a highly formal and specialised process, thus in there is a need for high-calibre editing, review, citation and versioning mechanisms, especially when more than one or two authors is involved.

Whilst Google Docs was quick-off-the-mark in terms of providing a cloud-based service for the writing and editing of documents by multiple-authors, the service lacked the tools required for the more formal aspects of academic writing (such as structuring long articles, embedded tables and images, and collaborative editing, particularly through tracking-changes to the documents). Many academics settled on the power of Microsoft Word, with its sophisticated editing and track changes functionality, and then simply swapped version of the documents through email or via cloud-based services such as DropBox. This type of collaboration may be effective for thesis writing or small collaborations between say two people, but when more authors are involved it becomes highly inefficient as versioning (manual) becomes problematic as does the ability to locate who is working on what documents at a particular time.

In terms of collaborative authoring, Google Docs and Microsoft have come a long way in the past couple of years; especially in terms of the integration of their services with their respective cloud drives (Google Drive and One Drive). These cloud drives allows for the sharing and storage of documents in one central location (as with DropBox) but with the advantage of having the authoring, editing and review tools built in (ie. Word and Google Docs). Authors can work on the same document at the same time, with the contributions of each author recorded for review by the other authors.

Microsoft Office 365 is the cloud-based version of the familiar Office and offers the Office suite of tools with a large amount of storage (in OneDrive). The cloud version of Word that comes with Office 365 is not as sophisticated as the off-line version of Word, but it is integrated with it and Word documents may be down-loaded if needed. Documents may be worked on collaboratively in real-time, and then down-loaded and refined for submission as a journal article or book chapter. One of the authors, the lead author or the submitting author, could download the Word document from OneDrive, refine it in the offline version of Word, then submit it to a publisher. This is a very effective way of collaboratively authoring papers.

Jun 202014

As the name suggests, Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely available resources for learning and teaching; such as documents, videos, syllabi, software, and images. The advantage for educators is that these resources may be deposited, shared and re-used thus saving time in creating new courses or updating existing courses (also the promotion of the particular institution or field and peer support for others in the same subject area is an advantage of sharing teaching materials). OER’s may be available as individual objects or bundled together as a package. They are most likely ‘open licensed’ through licenses such as Creative Commons or GNU and are made available either on the open web or within institutions. Also, the term ‘Open CourseWare is often used.





What types of materials?
The types of materials that are distributed as Open Educational Resources are usually those that have been previously used in a class-room setting, or designed for a purely online or in a blended learning context. They may be materials for activities or labs, full courses, games, lecture notes, lesson plans, teaching and learning strategies, video recorded lectures, or images and illustrations. The audience for these materials may be lecturers (which is primarily the case) or may be students or even parents or administrators.
What type of licences?
Open Educational Resources are usually licenced so that they may be easily re-used within a non-commercial educational content (ie not re-sold). Many licences allow for ‘re-mixing’ which means that they may be adapted and enhanced to suit differing institutional contexts and student cohorts. Some licences only allow for sharing and re-use and no major revision (ie. ‘read the fine print’) and many are available within the certain educational copyright regime of the particular country (ie. ‘educational use of copyrighted material’ provisions). Attribution is always an important consideration, meaning that the materials taken from OER repositories must be acknowledged so that the original creators of the work are credited.
Where are OER found?
Many OER repositories are available on the open web, such as the OER Commons project or Connexions. The repositories may be run by volunteers or through paid employees on project funding provided by a university or funding agency. Although projects such as OER Commons and Connexions were designed specifically for OER, broader definitions of the term may include projects such as the Internet Archive or even Wikipedia. OER repositories may also exist at a university level to be maintained either by the university library or through the team responsible for the university Leaning Management System (LMS). Leaner Management Systems such as Desire2Learn have inbuilt repositories so that course content may be deposited and shared at a school, faculty, or institutional level (or open to the broader community).
What are the archival (technical) standards?
When OER materials are places into a repository, metadata and archival standards need to be associated with them so that they may be easily located, archived and shared in a meaningful way. SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) is a common way in which objects may be described, zipped-up into a package and re-used by different Learner Management Systems (LMS). Succinctly, SCORM is a ‘package of lessons’ that are bundled together so as to be understood by the LMS. What this means for educators, is that when placing OER materials into a repository, the correct ‘meta-data’ (data about data) is required about the material; usually inputted through a form to demarcate the type of materials and subjects addressed.
What are the archival (teaching) standards?
Many OER resources are likewise aligned with the teaching standards that may exist in different institutions or jurisdictions. The resources available are often aligned through a peer-assessment of the OER’s utility, quality of explanation, or quality of technical interactivity. The value of this for educators is the certainty that OER resources are of high quality and currency and purposefully meet teaching challenges.

Jun 132014
 Posted by on June 13, 2014 digital humanities, pedagogy No Responses »

I have been working on refining my ‘blended learning’ skills of late, especially as they relate to digital humanities.  Here is an exemplar course that I created; well, at least the Unity Study Guide (the actual course is on VU’s LMS, VU Collaborate thus not generally available)


Tasmanian Convict

Tasmanian Convict