Project Title: Bevosourcing: tools to involve students in citizen science and online data publication
Project Summary: Digital archives and the internet have made it possible for non-experts to make major contributions to research through crowdsourcing and citizen science. UT has fascinating and important collections of primary sources for the humanities, many of which have been digitized. But before my PTF project, there were no digital tools at UT to facilitate crowdsourcing as a pedagogical strategy, engaging students with historical documents while enriching the collections themselves. The project therefore proposed to develop two UT-based crowdsourcing platforms. One customized an existing platform for the transcription of scanned documents (FromThePage, https://fromthepage.com/), and the other was a new Linked Data image annotation platform called Nanosourcer (https://github.com/nanosourcer). The customized FromThePage interface would make it easier for instructors to incorporate the transcription of historical documents from UT collections into lower-division coursework. Nanosourcer took the form of a Canvas plugin to help students in visually-oriented classes practice image identification, while contributing metadata to collections of digital images. Both tools were piloted in undergraduate classes in 2016 and 2017. The transcription platform helped students engage with archival material at the Briscoe Center in a UGS “Signature Course”, while the image annotation platform was used in several Classical Archaeology classes to annotate photos of ancient sites taken at the turn of the 20th century by Classics professor William Battle. Nanosourcer only made it to the proof-of-concept stage, but the adaptation of FromThePage led to a version supported permanently by UT Libraries at https://fromthepage.lib.utexas.edu/ and available to everyone on campus. More than 100 students engaged with these crowdsourcing tools in the course of my PTF project, and the UT version of FromThePage now has more than 700 registered users working on a dozen different archival collections.