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Digital Innovations: Bringing the Classroom into the Archives

Last fall, Dr. Mark Turin led Himalayan Collections at Yale, an innovative course employing web tools, digital and analog media, and subject experts to help students understand four Yale collections centered on the Himalayan region: Tibetan Buddhist scrolls at the Beinecke Library, photographs at the Yale Art Gallery, missionary documents at the Divinity School Library, and a former United States ambassador’s papers at Sterling Memorial Library.

The thirteen undergraduate students in the course were tasked with exploring the collections, cataloging their contents, and analyzing the materials by constructing web exhibitions in an open academic-source platform. The course served as a hands-on introduction to both Yale’s collections and Digital Humanities, and for many students it provided their first opportunity to work directly with archival materials. As one student noted in a course evaluation, “Examining different materials every week and engaging with collections in various ways led to a completely different perspective on how courses could (and should) be taught at Yale.”

The course was made possible through the support of the Yvonne and Jack McCredie Fellowship in Instructional Technology. A selection of student exhibits and more detailed information can be found at http://himalayancollections.commons.yale.edu/.