Tag Archives: visual design

A Fab Fall for the (Digital) Humanities

As the days get shorter and the weather much chillier, I’m not only reminded of how quickly fall semester is passing, but also of the many great humanities and digital humanities events I’ve had the chance to attend over the past few months here at Penn.

HAIKUIt seems appropriate to kick off a discussion of the humanities at Penn with the (wonderfully and fittingly named) HAIKU Conference: The Humanities and Arts in the Integrated Knowledge University. The conference, sponsored by the Office of the Provost’s Art & Culture Initiative, offered two days of multidisciplinary presentations, discussions, and performances addressing questions such as, “What do the humanities and the arts have to offer contemporary efforts to integrate distinct bodies of knowledge within the research university?” and “How will the humanities and the arts retain their specificity within this climate of integration and is it even important that they do so?” Scholars discussed topics including (but not limited to): what “art-making” means in the 21st century and the importance of the artist in the academic community; using digital storytelling to capture the history and memory of a particular community; questions of how translation can lead to inequality in representing a culture or nation; and the trajectory of creative writing programs in US higher education, as they differ from core literary programs.  The breadth in topic diversity at HAIKU indicated the continued influence of the arts and humanities on various research disciplines and how they enlighten all of us who make up the “integrated knowledge university.”

Continue reading A Fab Fall for the (Digital) Humanities

Student Showcase – McNair Research Posters

Each summer, WIC staff and librarians from many parts of Penn Libraries have the distinct pleasure of helping the McNair Scholars cohort with their summer research projects. Last year, the students explored creation of research posters in addition to live presentations (with PowerPoint). This year, that trend continued. Nine McNair Scholars spent many days this summer in Van Pelt mastering reference managers and presentation software. Our staff helped students design, and refine, their posters, and we are glad to present a few examples in the 2012 McNair Student Poster Showcase. We look forward to assisting the nine student researchers as they continue to explore these topics over the upcoming school year.

Abby Tran – Hoesley Reflection 2012

Hi! I’m Abby Tran, and I’m currently a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. As a PPE major, I’ve always understood the importance of a multidisciplinary education. The liberal arts, however, mostly center on theory, rather than practice. So when I heard about the Hoesley Digital Literacy Fellows Program, I embraced the opportunity to vastly improve my practical skills.

Our weekly sessions at Weigle Information Commons provided a lot of focus to our approach towards technology. Initially uncomfortable with spreadsheets, web design, and data sharing, I quickly gained confidence in all of these areas due to Anu Vedantham’s patient teaching and to presentations by a number of guests on topics ranging from Google products to PhotoShop. We were able to get hands-on experience working with these programs by following along as instructors guided us, as well as experimenting with them on our own. I also utilized other resources, most notably, Lynda.com, to independently hone my skills in InDesign, Illustrator, and PhotoShop.

While developing my final project for the Hoesley Program, I familiarized myself with different platforms for my personal website. After determining the content and focus of my site, I initially established an account on WordPress.com. While simple to use and functional, I was still unhappy with the design aesthetic. Fortunately, on the suggestion of a friend, I opened a Moonfruit.com site – and have never looked back. To check out my website, go to abbytran.moonfruit.com.

Before the Hoesley Program, I never imagined that I could produce work like this. Thanks to my training, I’ve become much more familiar with technological skills that are becoming absolute necessities in the modern world.

Picture Perfect – Image Resources

You’ve completed the research, developed an outline, composed and practiced your speech. Now all that is left to do is create the visual aid.

Don’t let blurry, low-resolution images distract your audience or detract from your insightful  commentary. You can move beyond Google Image Search to find powerful, high-quality images that help emphasize and clarify. Find free images online with creative commons licenses or through licensed resources at Penn Libraries.

Wikimedia Commons

    • 11 million media files
    • No registration required
    • Licensing – GNU Free Documentation License, Creative Commons, public domain.


    • 350,000 image files, with tutorials for photo editing
    • Requires registration (free)
    • Licensing – varies
    • Nice advanced search option

Morgue File
Yoto Photo 

Don’t forget Penn Libraries’ image collections!

The Fisher Fine Arts Library Image Collection has a beautiful searchable selection of over 180,000 digital images.

Check out the library’s eresources for collections of general and special interest image including the AP Photo Archive (over 1 million photographs) and ARTstor (over half a million images of art, architecture and archaeology).

Another viable option…

Why not borrow a camera and create your own images? The Vitale Digital Media Lab in the Weigle Information Commons has two Nikon D3100 cameras and a Casio Exilim FH100 available for 3-day lending.

Using Charts in Excel 2010

Lynda.com has released a new course called Excel 2010: Charts in Depth, where instructor Dennis Taylor shows how to analyze and communicate data with charts in Excel.

We get a lot of requests here in the WIC for training on this topic.  This 3.5 hour course (or half that if you watch at double speed!) allows you to really dig into Excel at your own pace, and even work along with the instructor by downloading the exercise files to the computer you’re working on.

From Lynda.com’s website: The course starts with the foundations: what the parts of a chart are, what the different types of charts are, and which charts work best for your data. The course then shows how to create a presentation-ready chart in minutes and offers dozens of in-depth tutorials on formatting and fine-tuning charts so they represent data clearly and accurately. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:

  • Identifying the plot area, chart area, gridlines, legends, and more
  • Selecting the right chart type
  • Creating charts instantly with shortcuts
  • Choosing a layout
  • Dealing with empty and hidden cells
  • Switching rows and columns for a different view of the data
  • Moving and resizing a chart
  • Inserting pictures and shapes
  • Adding labels to a chart
  • Analyzing existing and future data with trendlines
  • Changing a chart’s data source
  • Printing charts

Remember, the Weigle Information Commons has several Lynda.com accounts for you to use.  Just ask at the WIC Desk, or in the Vitale Digital Media Lab.