3 March 2018

The Fall 2017 Rogues enjoyed a student-centered learning experience developing content that interested them about Marlowe’s life and times.

Building the Bibliography and Web Exhibits

In the first unit, “Rogue, Poet, Spy,” students went on virtual scavenger hunts to learn about the mysterious Kit and collated their findings into an extensive bibliography. Unit 2, “Mapping Marlowe’s Social Networks and Writing for New Media,” required students to research and build web exhibits about the group’s shared interests. They successfully collaborated to create web exhibits that explore conspiracy theories about Marlowe’s death, his supposed espionage career, and his social networks. Student groups also documented and illustrated Marlowe’s family tree and created a choose-your-own-adventure-style game that draws from the content their peers generated.

Keeping up with 25 students creating and designing web exhibits was an energizing experience. We had much help from Stonehill College’s Digital Innovation Lab Director Scott Cohen, and his student fellows Amanda Beauregard, Jonathan Letourneau, and Melanie Bonneau. Our TAs, Jenny Carion (Stonehill ’19) and Casey Lyons (Stonehill ’19), both veterans of the Spring 2017 “Rogue’s Progress” course that Scott Hamlin and I co-taught, helped us keep the student groups on track and prepare them for the encoding unit.

Adapting the encoding unit for independent publication

Scott Hamlin took the lead on designing the encoding unit and adapted templates created by Martin Holmes and the MoEML team that we had worked from previously. As one goal for this project is to build a “Mini-Archive” of works related to Marlowe’s life and times, we realized we had an opportunity to ask students to develop “ographies” – personographies, placeographies, and bibliographies. Students had already been painstakingly tagging <persNames> <placeNames> and <titles>, but we didn’t have an existing database of stuff to link to. Scott designed one on the fly and it served two purposes. Scott also facilitated publishing the students’ work on the TAPAS site, where he is project co-director — in addition to his role of Director of Educational Technology and Support at Stonehill.

In project-based DH courses, instructors cannot escape the fact that students have varied learning styles and work at wildly different paces. Some students used the full time alloted to encoding coding, but some finished two weeks early. Scott’s “ographies” database created an opportunity for students research the persons, places, and titles they had tagged before making decisions about how to encode them. Because I had used MoEML’s materials to create a “How to” guide for encoding literary and historical persons the previous semester, students started with persons. Thanks to Francis Meres’s excessive name-dropping in Wit’s Treasury, they had more than enough to work with. The “ographies” project not only helped us differentiate lesson plans to accommodate all students’ learning styles and paces, but also gave students an opportunity to learn about the works they’d encoded in depth, plus grapple with the challenges of describing complex persons concisely.

But is it ready for publication?

The sheer volume of content our Fall 2017 students created was impressive. But not all of it was ready for the public domain. This problem was the same one I’d experienced when I taught students to generate content as part of of my MoEML Pedagogical Partnership. The challenge I faced designing the Spring 2018 syllabus was how to create lessons that would help the new class refine these projects so we could launch the site, while simultaneously creating opportunities for them to generate original content that would excite a sense of ownership over their work-products.

— Kristen Abbott Bennett

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Ideas in Motion: Looking back at Fall 2017