Welcome to The Sustainability Sandbox blog series! The Alexandria Archive Institute and Open Context advocate for data sharing, data literacy, open access, and community collaborations. In this series, we share the story of our journey to identify and develop digital data management, public engagement, and data literacy projects with potential partner institutions.
If you’ve been keeping up with our posts since the launch of our Data Literacy Program last year, you’ve had a chance to learn all about the development of our Digital Data Stories (DDS) project. Over the past few months, we’ve had the opportunity to partner with several faculty members to make sure that our educational resources can find a home in their curricula. In this post, I’d like to highlight one of these partnerships: our ongoing work with Dr. Kevin Garstki, a lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Conversations about a potential collaboration with Kevin began this past spring. Kevin already has extensive experience working with Open Context. In 2020, Kevin was part of the team that published Visualizing Votive Practice: Exploring Limestone and Terracotta Sculpture from Athienou-Malloura through 3D Models, an exciting, open-access digital monograph that incorporates links to high-resolution models with accompanying metadata on Open Context. He’s also the co-director of Visualizing Antiquarian Excavations: Digital Reunification of the Mecklenburg Collection, a project that uses digital techniques to make difficult to access material available through Open Context.
Moreover, Kevin has already had great success teaching with Open Context data. During the spring 2020 semester, he taught Digital Archaeology and Data Reuse in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Funded by the AAI’s Infrastructure and Capacity-Building Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Kevin’s course prepared students to confront issues around data creation, management, and reuse, including concerns about access, accuracy, ethics, and public engagement. Given his background, we really couldn’t think of a better person to test some of our educational resources with his students!
During our initial discussions, we shared the vision for our Data Literacy Program and our Sustainability, Collaboration, and Network Building Project with Kevin. In turn, he generously shared feedback about his experience publishing and teaching with Open Context. Through these discussions, we learned about the kinds of resources that Kevin could easily integrate into the Introduction of Archaeology course that he was teaching in the fall. And it’s during these conversations that the seeds for Gabbing about Gabii, the second DDS tutorial, were planted.
Students of archaeology, especially those in introductory-level courses, all too often only have access to clean, synthesized datasets. But how do we actually get ourselves to that point? How do we go from messy, handwritten notes to structured, digital data? Kevin saw an immediate need for an exercise that represents more accurately the steps that we, as scholars, go through to make data usable. And we were excited to start building that exercise.
Kevin’s students will be working through Gabbing about Gabii in the next few weeks, and we’re looking forward to hearing about their experiences! Moreover, because we want to highlight DDS successes, Kevin will also be sharing his own experience integrating this assignment into his syllabus. He’s played such an important role in our ongoing work, modeling what our future partnerships with teaching faculty can and should look like. We’re grateful to Kevin for his effort and enthusiasm!
About those future partnerships, are you feeling inspired? Do you have ideas for data literacy resources you’d like to bring into your classrooms. Would you like to work with us to make that happen? Let us know!
We’re looking to build relationships with libraries, museums, educational organizations, and other cultural heritage groups. If you’d like to connect and discuss a potential collaboration, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!