All posts by ameaghan

WordPress for Japanese Prints

This past spring, WIC staff members had the opportunity to work with Julie Nelson Davis‘s Art History 515: Utamaro and His Contemporaries seminar class. Students were first tasked with researching and cataloging a new collection of Japanese prints donated by Dr. Cecilia Segawa Seigle to the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts in Van Pelt Library. Thereafter, students worked together to build a collaborative WordPress site that would serve as an online catalog for the selected prints.

This image shows Julie's class interacting with the prints.

Julie developed this course with two main objectives in mind: the first was to provide students with a hands-on experience of the original materials, the second was to enable them to strengthen their web-design skills. She writes,

“This course was designed to bring together object-based learning with digital innovations.”

In this way, students interacted with and interpreted real objects, and the website showcases and preserves their research. WordPress, the platform of choice, makes it easy for multiple users to collaborate on a single site together. Each student set up a profile to create posts for individual prints for the catalog. Students were then able to upload images and add their text and links to related works.

Image of one of the posts on the website.
Post for Chōbunsai Eishi, “Beauties on a Pleasure Boat on the Sumida River,” ca. 1792-93

Together, the class also decided on an overall theme, which controls the look and feel of the site. WIC provided an initial overview of WordPress and met with students as they refined the project. In developing the online catalog, students were able to connect with their audience and directly shape how their research is experienced. Julie states,

“It gave them a sense that their research is real and that it really mattered.”

Check out her class’s fantastic website here. She also discussed her class’s experience during our spring Lightning Round held on April 26th and hopes to expand upon the project with future classes.

WIC staff have provided training and support to a number of courses throughout the years, and we look forward to collaborating with new classes in the upcoming semesters. If you have an idea for a project for your class, be sure to check out our Request Custom Training page. You are also always welcome to shoot us an email if you have questions.

If you are interested in learning more about WordPress, we provide workshops on the basics regularly. Our next WordPress Basics class will take place on Wednesday, July 13th from 11 to 12:30 p.m.  We can also provide a one-on-one consultation if you have more specific questions.

Wall of Rejection @ WIC

Image of one of rejections that was posted to the wall. It says, "I am not my rejections and lists several clubs and internships from which the student was rejected.

Oh, rejection… We’ve all been there. From the minor everyday letdowns of our social media posts remaining unliked to the major devastations of not getting into our preferred school, rejection is a very real component of the student experience.

In his TED Talk on emotional pain, psychologist Guy Winch refers to rejection as a “psychological wound,” and it really does feel this way sometimes. Winch writes, “Rejection destabilizes our need to belong, leaving us feeling unsettled and socially untethered.” Yes, it’s normal and happens to everyone, but in that moment, it can be difficult to keep things in perspective. We have a tendency to withdraw to protect ourselves.

One imagines these feelings of isolation and disappointment that we experience through rejection are only amplified in a highly competitive academic environment such as Penn’s. Regarding the complex issues relating to campus student culture and mental health, college junior Rebecca Brown wrote an op-ed piece for the The Daily Pennsylvanian. Brown writes,

In internships, in graduate school admissions and especially in student activities. We slap on the Penn Face and pretend rejection doesn’t happen, or at least it doesn’t happen to us.

She calls for an increased culture of openness at Penn in which to discuss and destigmatize rejection. To help facilitate this process, she and other fellow student leaders recently created Penn’s first Wall of Rejection.

Image of the wall of rejection.

The student-managed exhibit sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs was hosted by WIC and students contributed items from April 25th to the 29th. The Weingarten Learning Resources Center (VPUL) is a partner in the soon-to-be-launched PennFaces website that will feature interviews with the Penn Wall student organizers. The entire Penn community was encouraged to come and share their rejection stories on the wall by filling out a notecard and having a polaroid photo taken.

image of a student's photo being taken for the wall

This patchwork of rejection tales coalesce into an inspiring narrative of camaraderie and support. Brown writes, “To make rejection a more acceptable topic at Penn is no easy task. Naturally, there is a sense of embarrassment that accompanies rejection. But thinking of rejection as a shared experience helps.”

Penn Benjamin’s Peer Counseling also shares this attitude and provides undergraduate students with in-person peer counseling as part of WIC’s Student Assistance Services.

The Penn Wall of Rejection is in good company. A few weeks ago, Princeton professor Johannes Haushofer’s CV of failures made headlines.

Well-known author J.K. Rowling also recently shared two of her rejection letters on Twitter to inspire future writers.

The Wall of Rejection is on display at WIC until commencement, and many members of the Penn community have participated–including myself! Brown intends to hold the event again next year and hopes that a broader collective of Penn students will contribute their rejection experiences.

Topnotch Tech Tools for Education

Image of a laptop, iphone and ipad graphic created with Canva.
Created with Canva!

As the educational landscape continues to transform, increasingly more instructors are seeking innovative ways to engage their students through technology. A proliferation of tech tools both app and web based will support and inspire creative learning, but which ones to use? There are so many!

Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorites that will help create some amazing projects. Bonus: They’re all free and so easy to use.

Continue reading Topnotch Tech Tools for Education

Need a Better Way to Study?

Image of the inside of the Butler Technology Room.Welcome to the Butler Assistive Technology Room! Join us on Wednesday, March 16th from 3:30 to 4 p.m. for an introduction to the new Butler Technology Room located on the ground floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center.

Do you prefer to listen to your readings or dictate your writing out loud? This private study space provides software to convert both your speech and text as well as a quiet room for you to work in.

Located on the ground floor of Van Pelt Library and just around the corner from Mark’s Cafe, the Butler Assistive Technology Room was designed to facilitate and enhance learning.

Image of the outside of the Butler Technology Room.Created in collaboration with the Weingarten Learning Resources Center (VPUL), the Butler Assistive Technology Room has 24-hour access and is reservable online. After your reservation is confirmed, you can pick up the room key at the Rosengarten Reserve Desk.

The room includes an iMac and a PC desktop, a scanner, a video magnifier, and a variety of assistive software, including text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and OCR conversion technology. This assistive software allows users to have documents read out loud, to dictate and transcribe writing, and to convert and edit documents without retyping them!

Interested in training or have questions? Feel free to email WIC staff for technology and instructional support. We are here to help you out!

Can’t make it on to our orientation on March 16th? We’ll be back again on Wednesday, March 30th from 12:30 until 1 p.m. Come see us!


Learn to Transcribe and Encode Early English Books!

This is an image of the title page of the Booke of Pretty Conceites.

Are you interested in early modern texts and learning more about the digital humanities? The Early Books Collective is once again looking for undergraduate students and all interested parties to collaborate with us in transcribing the 17th century text: The Booke of Pretty Conceites–very merry, and very pleasant, and good, to be read of all such as doe delight in new and merry conceites.

Join us every Wednesday from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Vitale II Media Lab, Kislak Center, 6th Floor, Van Pelt Library. No registration necessary.

Working with the Early English Books Online (the EEBO database) Text Creation Partnership (TCP), you’ll decipher and transcribe this text by learning the TEI encoding language and, thereby, cultivate a valuable skill for work in the digital humanities.

Upon completion, we will be contributing our transcribed text back to the EEBO database and the Text Creation Partnership, which is fully and freely available for anyone to use.

Side by side images of both the original letter to the reader page and the transcribed TEI code.
Experience firsthand how early books are digitized!

Join us in contributing to this important project of creating an invaluable scholarly tool!

How do you collaborate? Let us know!

Penn Information Systems & Computing is looking for details on the collaboration tools you use on campus and what features make them effective. Take the Poll

What makes these tools so beneficial? What effect do they have on communication?

Please take five minutes to share your experiences with file sharing, audio and video conferencing, instant messaging, and group chat.

Your input will help improve collaborative processes at Penn.

Customize Your iOS Device to Fit Your Needs

iOS accessibility features are often regarded as tools exclusively for users with disabilities and sometimes portrayed as “secret” or “hidden,” but they’re really not!

As universal design plays an increasingly important role in our engagement with the complex digital world, iOS accessibility features are a prime example of how our technology devices can be tailored to fit our needs.

Graphic of iOS accessibility features categories

Many times our tech tools are not always customizable but rather come one-size-fits-all. Those users who cannot adapt, sometimes require supplementary assistive technology, which is often very expensive and challenging to learn how to use.

However, Apple includes accessibility features built in on every device that are designed to support ALL users. These features are found in Settings under General. Scroll down to Accessibility.

Here are some suggestions for you to trick out your device 😉 :

Control your device with your face! Yes, really. This is a screenshot of where Switch Control is located on an iOS device.

Located under Switch Control, add a new switch to allow your device’s camera to track your head movement. By shaking your head to the left or right, you can execute a range of actions such as adjusting your volume, navigating to the home screen, and summoning Siri. After selecting “Switch Control,” choose “Switches” and “Add New Switch.” The camera source will allow you to assign actions to left and right head movements. Don’t forget to actually turn on Switch Control after everything’s set up!

This is a screenshot of where Invert Colors is located on an iOS device.Increase the screen’s contrast to give your eyes a break.

Ever feel like you’ve been staring at a screen for too long? At the end of a long day of researching and writing on a computer, the last thing I want to do is stare at my iPhone’s brightly lit screen. Turn on “Invert Colors” on your device to avoid the glare and enjoy a new aesthetic.

Let Siri read that article for you! This is a screenshot of where Speech is located on iOS devices.

Activate Speak Screen located under Speech, and swipe two fingers down on any speakable content. It works great with Safari and book reading apps. You can also adjust the speaking rate, choose different languages, and highlight content.

This is a screenshot of where LED Flast for Alerts is located on an iOS device.


Use your device’s camera to get flash alerts

Ever wish your call, text, email alerts were a bit more noticeable without having to rely on your iPhone’s sound, vibration, or screen light feature? Turn on LED flash to receive a distinct but unobtrusive notification.

Learn to use your device free from distractions. This is a screenshot of where Guided Access is located on an iOS device.

New to iOS? Guided Access will allow you to practice using the apps on your device. To encourage focused learning, Guided Access limits the distractions by turning off the extra options and locking the user into the app of choice.

Want to learn more? Join me for my Accessibility on iOS workshop on December 1st! And, of course, not everyone uses an iOS device, so stay tuned for later accessibility posts on other operating systems!