Final Project and Twine


For my final project, I wanted to focus on pedagogy and as I said during my presentation on Thursday, I wanted to develop a unit plan for something that I hope to actually incorporate into my Freshman Composition (Eng 101/202) in the future.

My final project is an expansion of last week’s pedagogical intervention. I will be using Twine again, but will be adding to the brainstorming/mind-mapping type activity that I created to help students create questions and organize the answers to those questions.

This Unit is for the Observational Essay and it would begin with students coming to class having sat in the Oak Grove or some busy part of campus for at least 15-30 minutes and having observed what happened around them. They would then have to bring in notes from their observations. I expect that some may be organized, but many will just be random notes, which I will tell them is okay. I don’t want them bringing in anything typed or edited.

Once they are in class, we will discuss this “project” and what they found in their observations. I will want them to read from their notes. Once we discuss the differences between simply observing something and actually putting that information together into a narrative, I will introduce them to the Observational Essay, what it means, etc. For the next class, students will come to class with an idea of what type of event/activity they would like to observe on or near campus.

During the next class, students will be grouped based what type of event they would like to observe (Sports, Art, Entertainment, Music, Talk/Speech, etc.). Ideally, there will be 6 groups of 4, but if many of the students want to all observe the same type of event, then I will just group them myself. They will then go onto the class webpage/wiki, where I will have created Twine “stories”, which will be deconstructed articles (real-life published articles) that have been broken up out of order. The students, as a group will go to Twine and read through the story. They will then try to figure out the “proper” order. I will also print out the Proof copy for the students so they can more easily read how I broke up the article and re-arranged it. There’s an example of this on my website here. It’s entitled Article Example. While I have done this before by cutting out the paragraphs or articles and having students rearrange them on a table, I think that incorporating Twine so that they can read it out of order, but presented as if it’s in a proper order can make students consider how they prioritize their organization and their writing.

I imagine this would take most of the class. I would give them a brief Twine tutorial, so they could go home and students would (hopefully) be able to recreate the story using Twine (I would have to show them and they could just copy/paste from my story). The next class, they would present their new stories and explain how they reorganized the story to make sense. Finally, I would show them how the story was originally published. Hopefully, we would have time to explain how the original differed from theirs and if they think that changed the meaning of the story.

The next part would be the brainstorming/Q & A activity I discussed last week.

After that (which should only take a day and could be done for homework), students would come to class after having attended their chosen event. After completing the Q & A brainstorming, I would have them work on organizing the events and the quotes they gathered into some sort of order that makes sense. They would create their own Twine that would be a sort of rough draft. They would work on this for 2 classes and at home.

They would complete the Twine as best as they could and then on the day of the peer review, they would exchange Twine stories with the person peer editing and the peer editor would read through their Twine story/article to see if it followed an order that made sense, if the quotes were in the proper areas supporting the information in that section, and if there were any organizational problems with the Twine.

These comments would then be given back to the author/student and he/she would use those comments to take their story out of Twine and recompile it into a traditional article that we would publish on the class webpage/blog. If they wanted, I would allow extra points if they also edited their Twine story and presented their Twine to the class.

Finally, the point of using Twine versus a non-digital/analog mode is to help students visually see (yes, I know this is redundant!!) that organization is extremely important to their articles, essays, and other types of writing. I believe that by incorporating Twine, students can easily see how and if they have a proper organizational set-up.

I am really excited to try this out in class to see how well students would respond to this integration of DH tools that are more than just how to use a blog.

Lesson Plan in less narrative form:

Day 1 — Come to class having made observations; Intro to Observational Essay

Day 2 — Come to class with idea of area of Observation; Article example

Day 3 — Come to class with Twine of reorganized Article — how does organization change meaning?

Day 4 — Brainstorming/Q&A

Day 5 — After attending event, fill out Answer part of Brainstorming

Day 6 — Work on Twine of Student articles

Day 7 — Peer Review of Student Articles

Day 8 — Publication of Article (on class blog, like an online article) — Extra credit: Also publish as Twine



Twine and Brainstorming


For my pedagogy mini-project, I wanted to think of something that I might actually use in an Eng 101 or Eng 202 course here at IUP. For my Eng 101 syllabus, I included an Observational Essay where students would act like journalists, attend an event on campus, create questions, actually interview a few people involved with the event, develop an article, and then write the final article. I am really excited for this project, since many of you know that I am a former sports writer and I think that learning to write something like this can be helpful for students in the future. While they may not become journalists or writers, knowing important elements of events can help if they ever have to write a memo to a boss about something that happened at a meeting or if they ever have to put together a press release for a charity event.

I have two primary concerns regarding this assignment:

1) Can students create thoughtful questions that would give them enough information to develop a full 2-3 page article?

2) Students tend to have difficulty organizing their ideas and organization is extremely important when putting together a journalistic article.

To try to work through these concerns, I would have students use Twine (through my guidance/hand-holding) to develop their questions and post their answers. Here is a link to my website with the HTML of my Twine (this Blog site won’t let me upload it).

The goal would be for students to create their own Twines, as I guide them through how to develop this super basic structure using Twine and how to add their content to their Twine. I think the biggest technological obstacle would be showing them how to Archive their sites so they could save them. Since the goal isn’t to teach them html coding, I would probably have them email me their Archived .html sites or we could look at them in class, so I could look at their questions and offer direct comments within their Twines.

This project will be expanded for the final project and will include the full Unit plan, including incorporating peer review and an examination of an already published article.

Omeka and Visual Gothic


After going on a short sabbatical for medical issues (as I’m sure everyone is aware), I was able to compile an exhibit through Omeka. These images were open access images from some Gothic texts from 1765-1830. While I couldn’t find free images for all the Gothic texts from the time, I was able to find a wide range from some of the major texts (however, it was difficult to determine if all of the images I found were from the original manuscripts or from reissued/republished works).

Here is my Omeka site:

Go to featured Exhibit to see how I organized the images.

Initially, I thought I might find more images that showed violence or terror enacted toward women, but the overarching theme seemed to be more of a focus on the Medieval. While this wasn’t entirely surprising, it was a little unexpected. Now, this could be because of the limitation of open access images or just that the images were not as overtly violent as a modern scholar/audience might expect.

Voyant and Castle of Otranto


So, I tried to play around with Voyant and I think the difficult part is figuring out what you might possibly want to look for. It’s fun to just plug something in and see what happens, but then, it begs the questions…what am I looking at? what does this all mean? why do these lines and patterns matter?


For my project, I looked Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto and was just trying to see if there were any patterns. Since the text relates to young women and knights, I figured looking at young, lady, and knight might yield something interesting. There seems to be some sort of increase of those words around the same parts of the novel, with a large increase in the use of knight in the middle. I’m sure I could find other patterns, but given that I didn’t really have a hypothesis prior to starting my search, I didn’t know what I wanted to look for.

I did try to compare a number of different novels to each other, but it seemed to be easier to just look at one.

Annotation Studio — DH for students


I looked at some of the projects that were nominated for the 2014 DH awards and found the Annotation Studio project to be really interesting and intriguing. Throughout our exploration of DH projects, I’ve been trying to find a connection between these projects and pedagogy. I really wanted to find something that I could easily use in the classroom and that would be more than just a cool tool.

This project seems to incorporate many of those elements of a standard DH project, including being open source, it’s a Beta project in development through MIT, and it includes a number of case studies in various disciplines. The project’s architecture seems to be more of a system of user-input (the students input their own annotations for a text) and then there is a graphic display that shows how they read through the text. There is also a comparison element of the graph (similar to Voyant’s comparison tool) where multiple students’ annotations can be compared, so a professor can see how different students read the same type of material.

One of the case studies explained how a professor had students annotate the Chapter 4 of Frankenstein (the Creation chapter) in their own books and then go online and annotate using Annotation Studio. Then, they were tasked with looking up answers to some of the questions that they posed or that their classmates posed. Also, the professor asked students to examine the following questions: “Did multiple readings of a certain passage suggest meanings they did not see the first time? Does Shelley use certain references or kinds of language for a particular effect? What parts of the chapter seem most energetic and immediate? Did students see a change from the opening to the closing sentences in the focus of the chapter?”

This project seems to incorporate both close and distant reading, and I really think this tool could be really useful to students who don’t see the value in annotations. If I were to incorporate this into a class, I would probably start with uploading my own annotations to use a case study for students. Also, I think by limiting the annotations to one chapter or important section of a text allows the students to really engage with the text in that section (ie, they don’t get overwhelmed with the amount of material).

Digital Pedagogy


As I completed the reading from Paul Fyfe, it seemed to connect to a conversation that Michaela and I had a few days ago about digital pedagogy, especially as it pertains to the tools that we’ve learned how to use in this class. We talked about wanting a clearly understanding of how we could take all that we’ve learned (html/CSS, IF, hypertexts) and incorporate it into a “traditional” classroom in a way that would make sense pedagogically. For example, I could always assign students to read an IF as a way to experience another form of writing, but what’s the purpose?

While I don’t have a clear idea about some of the questions we discussed and some of the questions posed in the article, I guess I would want a little bit more specifics about digital pedagogy that isn’t just using some flashy tool or reducing everything to bullet points. How do we create an effective digital pedagogy?

Hypertext vs. codex vs. something else


I’m still not exactly sure what a hypertext is except for it being a text that has some sort of multimedia imbedded within it. I really liked Shelly Jackson’s My Body-A Wunderkammer because it forced you to click on different parts of the text to get to other parts to figure out the entire story. You can’t get the entire story by just clicking on the parts of the image (the body parts). This was really interesting, but it still seemed really text heavy, but I’m guessing that’s the point.

It just seems to me that if we are trying to do things differently, simply putting a block of text on a screen doesn’t make things any different than reading it in a book. Realistically, it’s harder (for me, at least) to read lots of text on a screen. For example, I chose not to print out the readings for today (Tuesday’s) class and found that I had a huge problem with focusing on the screen and with comprehending what I read. The most interesting part of the reading was the picture of the image from the museum of the Codex, which I found to be a really beautiful and profound image. Along these lines, it was interesting that the authors of the articles are arguing for different types of media, yet they are still writing big blocks of text that just happens to be put in an online space.

But then again, what can we do differently? The Kindle has revolutionize the eBook industry, but it’s still a book that has been transposed into a different medium. There’s nothing special about eBooks (as of yet). For example, you can’t click on a link and it takes you somewhere else online with images of certain things or to the archive of the original text. You can click on a word and get a definition, highlight and make notes, but other than eTextbooks being cheaper than print editions, what’s the point?

Interactive Fiction


Well, this was interesting. I found Galatea to be really intriguing, but also frustrating because if you don’t know what to say or how to say it, then nothing happens. Unlike the narrative-type video games where you can just push buttons until something happens, IF seems to be a venue where it could get really frustrating very quickly. This could clearly pose problems if there was a more clearly defined purpose for investigating IF.

Another thought — how does IF relate to Apps that are now available that have a literary component? What about online video games that are adaptations of books (the comic series Fables has an interactive video game)? I know IF is different, but how do these other types of interactive modes relate to/affect/or change the concept of IF?

Digital humanities


I went to more than two of the websites because a few didn’t seem to be recently updated and I was just curious.


This site seemed really interesting for anyone interested in history and places (which I am), but it did seem targeted toward a very specific audience.

The site has compiled tons of places, locations, and place names mentioned in Ancient texts and put them on a modern map, including time periods. This seems to be a very useful tool for a variety of scholars, especially since all the data is open access. If I was a classics scholar or involved in sociology, archaeology, or other fields that dealt with the ancient world, this site would be incredibly useful and interesting.

British Museum

This site is the website for the British Museum. It is a very well-done website with scrolling images of their collections. However, the organization is a little interesting — it seems like they web designers were trying to fancier than they were trying to be practical or informative).

What is the difference between a “website” and a digital humanities project?

I think that a digital humanities project (at least from what I could see) tend to have a very specific audience and they have a very specific purpose. Now a website has those things to, but they tend to be more informative (cf. British Museum) and not geared toward analyzing anything in particular. The analysis of data (of whatever kind) or at least compiling a large chunk of information into one place seems to be the goal of many digital humanities sites. To me, it seems like they are open access databases on steroids. Another common factor is that these DH projects seem to be housed at universities, so they would therefore be assumed to serve a scholarly aim, while websites do not have such high ambitions.

What dimensions does [your website] have that distinguishes it?

The Pleaides is a digital humanities project since it compiles a wide range of data and uses that data to map out points of real places that existed, which have now been superimposed on a modern map. Again, this project seems to be geared toward a very specific audience. On the other hand, the British Museum site is for a general audience and does not have a particular scholarly focus.

Would I use a blog in a classroom?


I love the idea of using a blog because it’s much more engaging than an online forum like Moodle or Blackboard. I’ve used Moodle in classes here at IUP and I used a system that had a Blackboard-type interface at a CC where I taught, and both situations did not seem to elicit the type of community involvement as I would have liked as a teacher/student.

However, in both of Dr. Heflin’s classes that I’ve taken (Women’s Literature and Literature as a Profession), we used a class WordPress blog, but neither time did the blog develop into something where the students felt like they had ownership over the blog or that it developed into something where students would post/comment when unguided.

These are the concerns about having a class blog. What happens when students simply rely on us, as teachers, to guide them to post? From a pedagogical perspective, how do we guide them toward posting without direct guidance/questions/etc.?

However, I think that the purpose of a blog for a class can overcome this obstacles because continuing the discussion outside of class is very important and it allows for students who do not normally speak in class to offer their own thoughts. Maybe having students create their own tags and put things in categories would help with their engagement in the blog. Maybe part of the issue with commenting/posting without guidance is that sometimes it is difficult to read through 20 blog posts everyday, but if they were organized in a way that made it easier to read, then students may be more likely to read others’ writing and comment on the blog.