This post was originally written for and featured on the University of Pennsylvania’s PennWIC blog.
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.
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.
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.”
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.