Initiative Members

Brian Balogh

Brian is developing a new course (Digitizing America) and using it to try new technology in the classroom. For this class, we have developed timeline project where students in the class enter six “digital moments” for themselves and additional six for a family member over 45. These events represent moments in their lives where technology played a transformative or distinctive role. They are then plotted on a timeline developed using PHP and MIT simile’s project, now hosted on Google Code. Our dynamic timeline allows us to explore an individual’s additions as well as merge individual timelines with others in the class and even other semesters, creating a merged timeline where we can explore patterns, anomalies, and aggregates. We have developed a class website hosting the timeline project, a specific media library, and other features including voting systems and user commentary. In a previous class, he also beta tested Dan Doernberg’s NowComment text annotation software. The success he had using this software paved the way for other faculty members to implement it in their courses, including our own Jennifer Burns. In conjunction with the timeline, he is using a custom built media management tool to facilitate the use of diverse media objects to enrich his classroom experience.

Jennifer Burns

Jennifer Burns helped design and pilot an innovative text annotation tool, NowComment, for her lecture class on American intellectual history in the spring semester 2009.  The course focuses on close reading of complex arguments, and to further develop these skills, students were asked to annotate William James’ “What Pragmatism Is” and Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Children of Light and Children of Darkness.”  Using DCI funding, Professor Burns worked closely with software developer Dan Doernberg and her TAs to develop a tool that would work effectively for a large lecture class of over 100 students.  Important modifications to the software made as part of this collaboration include tools to assist instructors in grading, viewing, and organizing student groups and comments.  Professor Burns is currently working to adapt NowComment for use in a small historical research seminar, where it will be deployed to help students in peer review and the evaluation of their writing.

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Paul Freedman

Paul’s part of the project involves the creation of a video archiving, editing and analysis tool for political advertisements.  This utility, provisionally called ‘MyTube,’ will combine a media repository, online video editing and publishing tools, and video annotation and transcription software. The objective is to create central location where students can contribute, create, and comment on political campaign ads found and/or created by students. Initially these students will be in his class, PLAP 4500: Political Advertising and American Democracy, but ideally the tool will be extended to other classes and institutions to allow a larger collaborative network to utilize and contribute to it.

Loren Moulds

Loren Moulds is a Ph.D. graduate student in the History Department. Acting as the technical consultant for the Digital Classroom Initiative, he assists in discovering, developing, and disseminating the ideas and technologies on which the DCI is focusing.

Siva Vaidhyanathan

Siva has been teaching with and about digital media since 1996. He has experimented with various video and audio lecture-capture methods in the classroom. He worked extensively with the collaborative aspects of Google Documents, particularly the presentation application, as a way to facilitate live "back-channel" discussion within his large lecture class, "Introduction to Digital Media." In that class, Siva's students produced a series of short videos about the use of digital technology within higher education. In addition, Siva deployed video editing and presentation applications for his course "Privacy and Surveillance" in which small groups of students produced video-based film criticism projects. Siva is also working on a set of "best practices" for the use of publicly accessible digital classroom work.

Nick Winter

Using a tablet PC and a set of software tools, Nicholas transformed the classroom presentations for his graduate statistics course to integrate (formerly) hand-written notes, graphics, web content, and statistical software.  He uses the tablet to make on-the-fly markups of these materials in class. The tablet records the audio and screen output from these presentations; these are subsequently published on the web, allowing students to review course material while working problem sets.
This technology also allowed one student with a schedule conflict to take the course "at a distance."  A sample of the published lectures is available at

Watch the video above, produced by Siva's Media Studies class, demonstrating the use of Nick's in class tablet presentation.