Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Public Scholarship

The Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference #BUDSC15, “Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Public Scholarship” brought together over 160 practitioners to discuss challenges, share working models, reflect on projects, and inspire new avenues for actively including students in public scholarly pursuits. Over the course of three days, faculty, administrators, instructional technologists, librarians, archivists, graduate and undergraduate students from 57 organizations began a generative discourse that will continue to impact the scholarly, academic, and institutional practices moving forward.

Bucknell’s commitment to student engagement and the expansion of available learning environments for our students is evident in the conference theme. Many participants commented positively on the focus of #BUDSC15. While other digital scholarship conferences emphasize large digital humanities projects, specific tools, or may touch on pedagogy, our focus remains student-centered.

Based on the feedback from last year’s inaugural conference, this year we included a NextGen Plenary session to highlight the work of student researchers around the country, instituted a student bursary program to help fund student participation, and incorporated a series of pre-conference skill-building workshops. Between the NextGen session and applications for bursaries, Bucknell funded nineteen students’ participation in #BUDSC15.

Repeatedly, backchannel Twitter discussions–including over 1,700 tweets from 182 individual accounts with a reach of 237,983 follows–praised the small cohort of student presenters from various institutions who spoke about their work and experience with digital humanities projects. The broad range of skills they acquired, the professionalism with which they spoke about their subjects, and their enthusiasm for their research both affirmed our beliefs that students are highly capable of and will greatly benefit from this type of work.

In the days leading up to the conference, fourteen digital scholarship facilitators from ten institutions met at Bucknell to plan and run the pre-conference workshops. The collaborative effort resulted in a range of workshop materials used to conduct the workshops. These resources will be made public as OERs for others interested in running similar programming or including the methodologies in their classrooms. The impetus for the workshops–and specifically the collaborative approach to design and instruction–arose out of an acknowledgement that many institutions need to facilitate these types of programs, but the vast number of technologies available makes it challenging for any one school to provide adequate coverage. Drawing on a range of expertise from facilitators around the country, Bucknell offers one model for how to meet that challenge: through inter-institutional collaboration.

Visit Twitter to see the live-tweeting that took place during the conference here: #BUDSC15

 

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