The DSSG’s support infrastructure works across domains and units within the University, allowing it to provide newly-available resources to faculty and graduate students who are interested in using digital methods and tools. Some of these are supported directly by the group, while others are maintained by our partners around Harvard. They include the following:
Omeka Hosting as a Service
Omeka is a content management system oriented towards libraries, archives, and museums. Its focus is on granular items, which are used to weave together broader narratives. This focus makes it useful for many academic projects, particularly in history.
In Fall 2015, the History Department began hosting courses Omeka sites on a trial basis. As demand for the service grew beyond the department, Academic Technology for FAS began development of an FAS-wide service to host Omeka for course work. This service takes advantage of the scalability of Amazon Web Services to enable support for a much larger number of sites, and allows requests to be made through a simple form.
Omeka Plugin Development
In addition to supporting a standard installation of Omeka for FAS courses, Academic Technology for the FAS, DARTH, and the History Department have collaborated on a number of Omeka plugins to extend Omeka functionality, making it easier to use the platform in a classroom setting.
When the service first launched, Omeka users had to maintain separate login information for each site. With the integration of HarvardKey credentials, students, staff, and faculty can all use their HarvardKey credentials to log in to Omeka sites. This plugin also allows users to be added in bulk, simply by copying a list of emails into the plugin configuration. This plugin has greatly simplified the use of Omeka in a classroom setting.
For larger Omeka collections, it can be beneficial to have a faster, more robust search engine. The Omeka Elasticsearch plugin not only allows users to search through the contents of their Omeka sites more easily, but also gives them all of the features that Elasticsearch has to offer, including advanced facets and filters through a simple search syntax.
This plugin allows instructors to manage the permissions of their students dynamically throughout the term, enabling and disabling various editing and viewing permissions.
When introducing students to new software, especially open source software, it can be time-consuming to deal with the variety of operating systems and environments that students can bring to the classroom. To address this issue, Academic Technology for FAS developed a remote desktop environment with a variety of software pre-installed, so that students can use software for digital scholarship without a cumbersome setup process. Remote environments are slower than working with software on your own machine, so students will still want to install software that they intend to use on their own computers, but this tool alleviates what can be a quite painful setup process.