Previous HTLabs

Jamyla Krempel, Senior Editor of Audio and News Collaborations for The Baltimore Banner, led a workshop about how to make a podcast in three stages: managing a project; crafting a story; and editing a session. Resources from this lab are in the “Presentations” section of the Resources page.

UMBC Professors Keegan Finberg (English) Tania Lizarazo (MLLI), and Elaine MacDougall (English, Writing Center) led a workshop on their experiences teaching transformed and community-engaged courses through the HTLabs Course Transformation Grant program, which awards seed funding to UMBC faculty. These faculty shared exercises and materials from their three transformed classed, titled “Baltimore Poetry and Politics”, “Global Stories,” and “Telling Our (Counter) Stories,” respectively. They also identified the challenges of teaching in partnership and helped participants think about ways to transform their courses in the long, near, and short terms. Attendees also reflected on the past six years of HTLabs and the lessons learned from almost thirty labs. Resources from this lab are in the “Presentations” section of the Resources page.

Part I: How to Build Solidarity Through Storytelling

Humanities Action Lab’s (HAL) Learning & Coalition Facilitator Leora Fuller led a panel of six aid organizers, discussing the concept and practices of “mutual aid storytelling.” This idea recognizes that sharing both basic and complex stories about our lives is crucial to getting to know the needs of those around us, connecting how these needs are shared, mutually supporting each other in meeting them, and building solidarity to fight for systemic change. Organizers from Mutual Morris  (Newark, NJ), Ocho Semillas (San Joaquin Valley, CA) and Mi María: Project (Puerto Rico) discussed the unique ways they had reoriented public history to focus on intra-community stories, raising issues ranging from clean water access to immigrant laborer’s rights.

Visit the HTLabs Resources page to read “To Those Who Keep Showing Up,” from Brenda Angelica Gutierrez Mora (Ocho Semillas) as well as slides shared by Ricia Anne Chansky and Aleyschka Estevez Quintana of The Oral History Lab @ UPRM. Learn more about Mutual Morris of Morris County, NJ here.

Part II: Cultivating Mutually Supportive Learning Relationships Through Mutual Mentorship

Co-facilitated by HAL’s Leora Fuller, Mastress of the Workers Revolutionary Collective (Philadelphia), and Melody Magly of Brick City Mutual Aid (Newark), this workshop centered the idea of “mutual mentorship” as a way to build mutually supportive learning relationships in our classrooms, organizations, and the rest of our lives. Participants included members of the UMBC community as well as community fellows from the Baltimore Field School and other partners. This workshop unpacked the idea of mutual mentorship, discussed aspirations and obstacles for doing community-engaged work, and imagines specific ways to dismantle personal and institutional barriers and ignite future collaborations. Following the workshop, Mastress compiled the attendees’ whiteboard and post-it brainstorming sessions into a set of beautiful Canva graphics found HERE.

Broken colour pencil on white background

Dr. Marina del Sol, Master Instructor at Howard University, led a workshop focused on methods for constructing assignments and assessment practices that decolonize traditional, hierarchical ways of teaching and learning. It explored multimodal assignment formats that engaged with the digital humanities (e.g., visual annotated bibliography using a StoryMap, video reviews, visual pre-writing, wireframing, etc.) from an anti-racist pedagogical framework. The workshop focused on discussing theoretically informed assessment practices that center the experiences and voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students.

Visit the HTLab Resources Page (Guides and Templates) to find slides, rubrics, prompts and other activities from this lab.

Dr. Mary Rizzo, Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University-Newark and co-founder of the Chicory Revitalization Project, Slangston Hughes, Artistic Director of DewMore, Rejjia Camphor, creative writing instructor at Writers in Baltimore Schools, A’niya Taylor, poet and co-leader of the organization City Bloc, and Taye Caldwell, writer, led a workshop centered on making public humanities projects that center community voices. The workshop highlighted Chicory as a resource for local history and Black studies, and explored poetry as a tool for examining the relationship between past, present and place.

Click HERE for resources distributed at this HTLab.

In this lab, Professor Gina Lewis, Associate Professor of Art at Bowie State University, introduced participants to the theory and practices of Photovoice, a method of ethical photography and storytelling that focuses on social justice, advocacy and representation. As a primary investigator on the C&O Canal National Historic Park (NHP) Ethnohistories: African American Communities in Context project for the National Park Service, Professor Lewis experiments with Photovoice as a methodology for community-based, participatory action research. Lewis has engaged students and teachers from Friendly High School in Fort Washington, MD, as participant researchers using Photovoice to explore the presence/absence and inclusion/exclusion of African American stories in the C&O Canal NHP and other related parks.

View Lewis’s slides here for more information on the application of Photovoice in communities and classrooms. In breakout rooms using Padlet, participants collaborated on an introductory Photovoice activity, guidelines for which can be found here.

In this HTLab, Dr. Natasha Cole-Leonard of the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), discussed her collaborative pedagogical project “Invisible History: Exploring the CCBC Hilton Center’s Past,” a five-week Summer Research Experience in partnership with UMBC’s Denise Meringolo, Director of Public History, and Lindsey Loeper, Reference and Instruction Archivist, as well as Molly Ricks, Baltimore Heritage. Sponsored by the Mellon-Funded Humanities for All Initiative initiative, the project helped students place CCBC’s antebellum Hilton mansion, a recently-renovated estate on campus grounds, into a more complete historical context, exploring the lives and legacies of enslaved Africans and laborers who played roles in the campus and local region’s development. Students used Curatescape, a geo-based web and mobile-app platform for digital publication, to build a series of multimodal essays for the site. Participants in this lab also learned about the Universities Studying Slavery Consortium of which CCBC is a part. Then, in a history-themed poetry exercise led by Baltimore-based poet Abdul Ali, participants read and discussed two poems, Lucille Clifton’s “in the inner city” and Natasha Trethewey’s “Theories of Time and Space” and discussed themes of home, memory and language. For two sample assignments from the presenters, including the poetry exercise, visit our Guides and Templates page.

Jamie Gillan (Language, Literature and Culture Ph.D Program), Bill Shewbridge (New Media Studio, Media and Communication Studies), Charlotte Keniston (Peace Worker Program, Shriver Center), and Sarah Jewett (Director of Innovations in Transfer Research) demonstrated how digital storytelling can enhance academic, social, and civic outcomes and connections within a community. They also shared how to cultivate collaborations across regional institutions to broaden and deepen digital storytelling work. The facilitators explored how digital storytelling can be used as a tool for critical reflection and knowledge creation as well as for sharing research within a course or program. Click HERE to access the resources shared during the workshop.

Artist and Educator Jen White-Johnson walked participants through the rich and complex history of zines and zine-making. She demonstrated how to create a zine using an 8×11 piece of paper and how to use editing tools like Adobe Express (fka Adobe Spark) to create zines with various templates and designs. She also discussed how Zines can be used as protest materials and for community building. For how-to guides, templates, and recommendations for zine archives and artists, click here.

Professor Jill Vasbinder Morrison, Allie Gardner, and Ximena Monroy Rocha explored the community-building aspect of dance by sharing their experiences working on the El Movimiento project during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were led through a gesture exercise inspired by the groundbreaking Still/Here documentary. For more on building movement into the classroom experience (online or in-person), see this resource.

In the last workshop of our fully virtual 2020-2021 programming, HTLab director Lindsay DiCuirci led a discussion reviewing experiences from a full year of teaching online and its implications for radical and permanent changes in pedagogy. With presentations by Professors Marina del Sol (Howard University), Sharon Tran (UMBC), and Lee Boot (UMBC), participants reflected on the “keepers” and takeaways from teaching remotely, and shared resources in this collaborative document.

Dr. Aimi Hamraie discussed how to build accessible and justice-centered pedagogy and curriculum, with a focus on collective and participatory approaches to learning. Going beyond models of individual accommodation, the workshop drew on frameworks from critical, feminist, and disability pedagogies, as well as examples of project-based classroom and campus learning experiences, including accessibility mapping, podcasting, and parties as scholarly, pedagogical, and administrative praxis. Dr. Hamraie’s presentation can be viewed here.

Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad, Assistant Professor of Howard University Sociology and Criminology, whose pedagogical approach has been dubbed The Dr. Muhammad Experience, led an HTLab discussing how to transform classrooms into experiential learning laboratories in real time and space. The workshop featured examples from Dr. Muhammad’s award-winning global curriculum, from her Policing Inside Out, MOM Camp for Children of Incarcerated Parents and her Higher Education in Prison Remix. Resources from this lab can be found here.

How do we ensure that community partnerships are beneficial and equitable for all parties? In this HTLab, Professor Brian Kaufman of the UMBC Department of Music shared best practices for collaborating with community partners in the arts (and beyond) as well as tips for adjusting to virtual settings. Kaufman also shared his own experience developing a partnership with the Baltimore Symphony Orchesta’s OrchKids program over the last 7 years. He led participants in a guided tutorial of the collaborative project and organization app Padlet, and explained how he uses this tool when working with students and partners.

Dr. Christina V. Cedillo, Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Houston Clear Lake, led a workshop discussing relationships between bodies and multimodal composition. She presented research and reflective questions on how a focus on bodies informs new, culturally-informed approaches to composition in the humanities classroom. Participants were challenged to think about how their pedagogical practices, including the media and technology they use in class, accounts for students’ embodied experiences. For further reading on Dr. Cedillo’s work, see “What Does it Mean to Move? Race, Disability, and Critical Embodiment Pedagogy” which includes suggested assignments for embodied composing, and “Honoring Students’ Multimodal Home Places,” which includes templates for students to map their own home places.

Dr. Jean Lee Cole, Professor of English at Loyola University, Maryland, led a workshop focused on what trees can teach us about the intersections of literature, the environment, and equity. Dr. Cole introduced participants to digital tools like iTree to calculate economic/environmental benefits of trees in their immediate lived environment; StoryMapJS to explore the role played by trees in real life, literature, and history; and izi.TRAVEL to create audio tours. Participants learned how to frame assignments around forging personal connections to tree species and understanding the roles played by trees in ecological, symbolic, and social systems. For assignment prompts and syllabi related to these projects, visit the HT Lab Guides and Templates page.

Dr. Tania Lizarazo and Dr. Thania Muñoz D. of the Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication led a workshop on their digital storytelling project Intercultural Tales, guiding participants on how to use digital stories as part of  community-building and reflective writing exercises in the context of online learning. They explored three fundamental stages of digital storytelling: the story circle, the storyboard, and the production, using Adobe Express to create previews of a final story. Resources from the lab, including a storyboard template, can be found here.

In the program’s first virtual HTLab, participants shared their hits, misses, questions and quandaries during an hour-long virtual discussion facilitated by Dr. Lindsay DiCuirci. We heard from Dr. Sarah Fouts (American Studies), Dr. Blake Francis (Philosophy), and Dr. Timothy Phin (Ancient Studies) in addition to many participants who shared what worked well in the switch to online teaching and what they might change in anticipation of Fall 2020. The slides for the session, including the prompting questions for discussion, can be accessed here. Beyond simply sharing technological tools, participants also stressed the importance of holding space for student’s questions and anxieties as well as student’s need to connect on subjects outside of class discussion. Dr. Carol McCann shared this Final Learning Analysis prompt from her Gender, Women’s, + Sexuality Studies Course, which encourages students to reflect on their experience of the course itself beyond learning outcomes. The discussants also shared recommended reading from Dr. Cathy Davidson on the subject of Trauma-Informed Pedagogy and this helpful reflection from Dr. Michelle Miller on 5 Takeaways from Remote Teaching.

Below are a list of resources that participants recommended during the lab. For fuller descriptions of these resources, visit the HTLab Resources Page and stay tuned for video tutorials, guides, and prompts for implementing these tools.

Resources for Engaging Students in Online Learning

Mentimeter for polling and other feedback tools
Slack for organizing class discussion
Flipgrid for recording and sharing short video responses
VoiceThread for recording, sharing, and commenting on presentations and oral assessments for social reading and collaborative annotation (Here’s a tip for integrating this tool with Blackboard).
Panopto for recording and sharing short video lectures (Here’s a tip on integrating Panopto with Blackboard Ultra)

On Thursday, February 6, Dr. Marisa Parham, Professor of English at Amherst College and director of the Immersive Reality Lab for the Humanities, delivered a talk titled, “Breaking, Dancing, and Making Black Lives in the Digital Humanities” based on an experimental digital project titled .break .dance published in an experimental digital journal smallaxe. Parham’s project seeks to capture “the underside of thought,” and is especially keyed into how digital projects that more effectively “hew to your own story.” You can watch Parham’s talk in full here.

Then on Friday, February 7, Dr. Parham led a hands-on workshop on using Scalar, Tumult Hype, Twine and Scrivener to compose born-digital essays, projects, maps, stories, games, and blogs. Parham demonstrated how non-linear and more experimental composing tools allow students to explore how they think about things, often through free association and an interplay of media. For details on these programs and links to software downloads, visit our digital resources page.

In this two-day workshop co-sponsored with Digital Stories@UMBC, participants from UMBC and community partners learned how to conceive and execute their own digital stories. The workshop focused on story development in a group story circle, script writing and voice recording, digital editing and pedagogical tips. For digital storytelling resources, including open source programs, digital archives, and sample projects and assignments, visit the Digital Stories@UMBC resource page.

Local photojournalist and educator J.M. Giordano led a workshop at UMBC’s Albin O. Kuhn Special Collections library, home to two million photographic prints as well as photography books and equipment. In collaboration with Beth Saunders, the curator and head of Special Collections, Mr. Giordano walked participants through his own pedagogical strategies for teaching photo history as well as the ethics of photographing within communities. Participants were also treated to highlights from Mr. Giordano’s series of photographs capturing the collapse of the steel industry, which is the focus of his long-term, transnational project. Participants had the opportunity to browse dozens of photographs capturing domestic and international labor with foci on issues of reform as well as propaganda. For access to digitized and curated collections of UMBC’s matchless photographic archive, visit the Digital Collections page. Here, users can access some of the materials used in the workshop, including work by Lewis Hine, the National Child Labor Committee, and historical photos of Baltimore.

Dr. Earl Brooks and Dr. Jennifer Maher shared projects that resulted from their HTLab Course Transformation Grants. Dr. Brooks discussed how he uses sound in his rhetoric and composition course, “Sounds Like Social Justice” to empower students to become critical listeners and sound composers. Participants were able to experiment with the open source audio editing software Audacity in their own imagined course assignments as well as listen to some of Dr. Brooks’s student projects. He also discussed how students in his transformed course research local nonprofits and community organizations in order to design sounds-based media for their websites or marketing materials. Dr. Maher shared the details of the community-engaged project that helped transform her course “Baltimore: Race, Rhetoric and Technology.” Dr. Maher’s class partnered with Community Closet, an organization that serves communities throughout Baltimore by hosting free pop-up clothing exchange; her students had a chance to run the pop-up during a community day as well as develop new promotional and branding materials for Community Closet. Dr. Maher also shared strategies for encouraging students to reflect on the spaces in which they moved, the people they met through community work, and their own assumptions and shifting perceptions of the city.

In this HTLab, Dr. Eliseo Jacob led a workshop on using the free web-content builder Adobe Express to engage students in social justice research and multimedia composing. Workshop participants learned about Spark’s flexible and intuitive tools for creating flyers and web announcements, short videos, and high-quality multimedia essays. Dr. Jacob also shared an assignment for his Brazilian Hip Hop class, which asks students to create web essays (similar to blogs or digital journal articles) that incorporates images and video into their research-based analysis. You can find Dr. Jacob’s assignment prompt and rubric on our resources page. He also shared strategies for encouraging student engagement with and peer review of each other’s projects, including student-led comment boards that create a “proto-public sphere.”

Dr. Jacob is Master Instructor of Portuguese in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Howard University where his research and teaching interests include Afro-Brazilian literature and culture, urban space, the public sphere, and the digital humanities.

Telling a good story is at the heart of public scholarship and builds the skills of listening across difference, which is central to addressing issues of justice and equity. In this HTLab, Nicole King, Associate Professor and Chair of the UMBC Department of American Studies, explored how to organize cultural documentation projects, ask good questions, and construct engaging narratives. Participants learned from projects that blend interview techniques from oral history (recollections of the past) to ethnography (life histories and cultural studies), as well as more journalistic “on the street” interviews and document analysis as ways to better listen to a place. The HTLab also addressed the duality of listening to the streets while also seeking transparency from those in power, which can produce important and actionable qualitative studies.

Dr. King’s current research and teaching include the Baltimore Traces: Communities in Transition project, where students research historic places in downtown Baltimore and complete oral history interviews focused on preserving the opinions of those who live, work, and play downtown. Dr. King is also currently co-editing Baltimore Revisited: Rethinking and Remaking a Right to the City, a collection of articles on Baltimore’s social history for Rutgers University Press.

In this HTLab, Claude-Julie Bourque demonstrated how NVivo 12 data analysis software can be used in humanities and social sciences research. The concepts and procedures are easy to adapt in fields such as history, communications, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, psychology, education, and with multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary projects. NVivo also supports a range of qualitative approaches, such as grounded theory, discourse analysis, thematic content analysis, historiography, and evaluative strategies, as well as mixed methods approaches.

The workshop focused on the basic principles of using NVivo, including how to transcribe, code, analyze, and catalog different types of data, and how to pull out research themes for further analysis.

Dr. Bourque is an NVivo expert trainer and Research Professor at the University of Montreal. The NVivo HTLab was co-sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities and the Center for Social Science Scholarship, UMBC.

Participants literally chose their own adventures as Anastasia Salter led an HTLab on Twine, an open source, user-friendly tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories. Faculty learned how to create their own interactive stories that included text, images, and choice-based dynamic elements. Used by makers of games, hypertext novels, and other forms of interactive narratives, Twine can inspire students to build and enact connections in course content, while also connecting with broader communities of creators and gamers.

Dr. Salter, Associate Professor and Interim Assistant Director of Games and Interactive Media at University of Central Florida, provided examples and how-to-use guides for getting started with Twine. She is the author of several books and many articles on game design and culture, including Toxic Geek Masculinity in Media (Palgrave Macmillan 2017, coauthored with Bridget Blodgett), Jane Jensen: Gabriel Knight, Adventure Games, Hidden Objects (Bloomsbury 2017), and What is Your Quest? From Adventure Games to Interactive Books (University of Iowa Press, 2014).

To learn more about Twine, click here.

Psychologist Jerome Bruner said that narrative is a “principle by which people organize their experience in, knowledge about, and transactions with the social world.” Stories make information more understandable, memorable, and persuasive, unlocking grassroots knowledge and using the power of emotions to shape decisions. Digital storytelling has also emerged as an effective action research method to engage communities in collective participation and action, grounded in their sense of place and their distinctive cultural knowledge. As a tool, digital storytelling can challenge hierarchies of expertise, amplify unheard voices, and convey important emotions.

Antonia Liguori, Lecturer in Applied Storytelling at Loughborough University (UK) and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Fellow, led this two-part HTLab on digital storytelling for community engagement. On February 7th, Dr. Liguori presented a public talk on developing digital storytelling projects that foster collective knowledge production and activism. She offered insights into the potential for digital storytelling to unlock shared knowledge and address critical issues such as climate change, public health, and refugee rights. She also shared a recent project that combined digital storytelling with songwriting as a way of translating individual stories about people’s relationship to place into something meaningful for the whole community. Watch Dr. Liguori’s talk in full here.

Then, in a hands-on workshop on February 8th, participants learned the key elements of digital storytelling, focusing on questions of inclusion and justice. They practiced storyboarding, edited audio/visual materials, and discussed how narrative structure and modes of storytelling vary in the diverse culture contexts in which we work and live.

The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access was a partner in this HTLab.

Participants in this HTLab learned how to use the Smithsonian Learning Lab in their teaching.

The Smithsonian Learning Lab puts the treasures of the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex within reach. The Learning Lab is a free, interactive platform for discovering millions of authentic digital resources, creating content with online tools, and sharing in the Smithsonian’s expansive community of knowledge and learning.

HTLab partners included the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access and Montgomery College.

Although Frederick Douglass was born into bondage, and never knew his birthdate, he chose to celebrate every year on February 14th. In a spirit of radical love, we commemorated the 200th anniversary of Douglass’ birth and Black History Month by joining a national event, organized by the Colored Conventions Project, the Smithsonian Transcription Center, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, to simultaneously transcribe the Freedmen’s Bureau Papers.

UMBC community members gathered in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Rotunda to read selections from Douglass’s speeches and other writings and to share birthday cake. Following the public event, faculty, staff, and students participated in an HTLab on crowdsourcing and digital transcription projects for the classroom.

Anne Sarah Rubin, Professor, History, and Associate Director of the UMBC Imaging Research Center, shared her experience in developing a crowdsourcing project with her undergraduate public history students to transcribe the 1816 Baltimore City Directory. In the process, students learned how to collaborate to make archival materials publicly accessible. Graduate students are currently using this digital archive to build projects about early Baltimore.

After a brief tutorial, participants got their feet web by transcribing portions of the Freedmen’s Bureau Papers. The project is ongoing and voluntary.

Faculty also received a resource with a variety of ongoing digital projects.

Read more about this HTLab here.

This lab explored how digital humanities research, tools, and methodologies can support inclusive teaching.

Keynote speaker Roopika Risam, Assistant Professor of English and Secondary English Education, Salem State University, discussed her current digital project, Visualizing the Global Du Bois. This project combines sophisticated digital analysis of Du Bois’s literary works with approaches that support technological literacy.

UMBC humanities faculty panelists outlined their digital humanities research, how they integrate digital tools and methods in their courses, and how technology supports inclusive pedagogy.

Drew Holladay, Assistant Professor, English, researches the role of language, rhetoric, and disability-rights activism in digital spaces, such as social media and discussion boards. He discussed work done by his students to develop a website and social media tool to destigmatize mental health issues on campus.

Tania Lizarazo, Assistant Professor, Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication, uses digital storytelling methodology in her research and teaching about Latinx communities. She explained how digital storytelling, which involves close collaboration with storytellers, decreases editorial bias and encourages community engagement and trust.

Bryce Peake, Assistant Professor, Media and Communication Studies, uses big data methods for cultural analysis. In his course, “Bullshit and Big Data for Media Analysis,” students use Python software to collect, analyze, and build an interactive ethnographic model to explore the rise of conspiratorial thinking in online communities.

Anne Sarah Rubin, Professor, History, and Associate Director of the UMBC Imaging Research Center, discussed a teaching collaboration with graduate history students and visual arts and computer science students to develop digital games about Civil War Baltimore. Students learned to use the online tool Twine to translate historical narratives into discrete decision-based events in order to develop game scenarios.

Read more about this HTLab here.