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Project Report: Making the Middle Ages


Culture and Belief 51: Making the Middle Ages focuses on the cultural and historical context of five objects (things, texts, and manuscripts) that students unpack through lectures and projects. The course offers students “a great adventure into the unknown,” an opportunity to unlock their own talents while exploring the cultures and beliefs of medieval Europe.

The goals in Professor Daniel Smail’s PITF proposal for this course included:

  • Preparing a photo-sharing program that Professor Smail could access easily in class
  • Generating a means that would allow students to map out the radiation of saintly cults in later medieval Europe
  • Developing a resource for students to produce an electronic collection of objects
  • Modifying Professor Smail’s “Collaborative Research Tool” for this course so that students could practice text markup and engage in an ungraded collaborative project

ATG staff and PITFs created a Tumblr page for the course where students posted photos, videos, and comments on what seemed “medieval” to them; made a class map using WorldMap so that students could each add a layer mapping a saintly cult or pilgrimage; built a collective virtual gallery on Zeega; and set up a course wiki for the “Collaborative Research Tool.”

To see the full extent of the materials developed for this course, check out the course iSite and Tumblr page.

Project Report: Flashcards


French Flashcard

Hebrew Flashcard

In the fall of 2012, two language courses — French C and Modern Hebrew — worked with ATG to make multimedia rich flashcards, replacing the traditional paper model with a digital version that would offer additional tools and appeal to different learning styles.

The goals of this project were to add “culturally representative ” images to the cards, to include audio of a native speaker saying the word, to indicate with color coding if a word was masculine or feminine, to embed short video clips in the cards, and to create cards that were easily edited and organized by teaching staff.

The cards help with teaching and learning both inside and outside the classroom, from the basic challenge of preparing a new vocabulary list to the more complex task of practicing communication. The content that has been added to the cards acts as a springboard for discussion.

The flashcard tool that ATG staff developed for French and Hebrew has since been used by many other courses in the languages, sciences and art history. It was built with HTML, CSS, and XML.

For more examples, see the French C iSite or the Modern Hebrew iSite.

Project Report: Dr. Kit’s History Lab


Dr. Kit’s History Lab was created as an online resource center for students working on digital scholarship projects for Dr. Tomoko Kitagawa’s fall 2011 courses (Japanese History 146: Kyoto and East Asian Studies 131: Math and History in East Asia). Students use this website to find campus resources, see example videos, and follow step-by-step guides for creating the media elements of their projects. Not only do students get a better sense of project expectations and how to achieve high quality work, but they also feel less intimidated by the new technology that many were working with for the first time. 

ATG staff developed a comprehensive website to serve as the main resource for students’ digital scholarship projects; created custom tutorial guides and videos for movie editing and audio recording; provided example videos for students to model their assignments after; and supplied information on resources available both on campus and on the web.

After the first semester of doing these multimedia assignments, ATG staff made short videos of students talking about their experiences. Other faculty members can now get a better sense of whether this is the type of assignment that would fit into their teaching.

The tools and technologies used for this project included:

  • iMovie and Final Cut
  • GarageBand and Audacity
  • Course iSites
  • Video and audio recording equipment
  • Green screen recording in the ATG and MPC studios

Learn more at Dr. Kit’s History Lab.

Project Report: Linking Art and Revolution


Landmarks in World Art and Architecture covers art through the ages and across the globe, from ancient Mesopotamia and China, to Precolumbian America, to early modern Japan and modern Europe and the United States. Members of the History of Art and Architecture faculty each lecture on an outstanding example in their area of expertise. For fall 2012, the faculty decided to teach the course chronologically for the first time in order to give students a deeper understanding of the historic currencies in play, and to frame the discussion around ideas of art and revolution — intellectual, scientific, and political.

There were two main goals for this ATG project. The first goal was to create a map for the website that linked works of art discussed in class to specific places and periods in world history, enabling students to explore the broad cross-currencies of art and revolution at different times and places. The second goal was to build a list of objects in and around campus (with the help of staff at the Harvard Art Museum) and introduce those works on the course website. Students would then select a specific work of art from the object lists and blog about it based on weekly assignments over the course of the semester.

The course PITF created a layer in WorldMap to display key works of study within a geographical context and created object lists of works of art and architecture around Cambridge and Boston. In addition, the use of the iSite Flashcard tool allowed the teaching staff to post specific works from each lecture that the students were responsible for on the exam.

See the course website for specific examples and more information.

Project Report: Principles of Scientific Inquiry wiki


Principles of Scientific Inquiry wiki

In Spring 2011, a new laboratory component of Physics 15a (Introductory Mechanics and Relativity), 15b (Introductory Electromagnetism), and 15c (Wave Phenomena) was begun under the name “Principles of Scientific Inquiry” (PSI). A three-semester sequence on the methodology of experimentation and modeling, PSI exemplifies the cyclic process of scientific inquiry.

The goal for this project was to provide students with a unified laboratory experience in PSI. The end result would be a central source from which all of the course documents would be distributed, and to which faculty and staff members could contribute content fluently as new ideas arose.

Under the supervision of the lab instructors and with the help of ATG staff, the PITF created a PSI wiki space that was first used by Physics 15c lab instructors in fall 2012. All three lecture courses then shared the wiki in the spring, allowing for a seamless progression through the sequence.

The PSI wiki is online at

Project Report: Exploring The African City


In African and African-American Studies 174: The African City, students engaged with historic and present day cities in Africa by examining architecture, city planning, spatial framing, popular culture, and art markets. The course website was intended to:

  • Provide students with a venue to continue lecture and section discussions after leaving the classroom.
  • Allow students to create a multimedia response projects, instead of (or as a complement to) traditional written responses and papers.
  • Include a multimedia repository of videos and maps that enhances and bring new possibilities to their final research project.

In order to accomplish these goals, ATG staff created a WordPress blog to serve as a “how to” guide for using Google Earth and AfricaMap for research and teaching, with specific lessons in geo-referencing and digitizing for historical GIS projects. They also digitized early maps and city plans of African Cities from the Harvard Map Collection and other repositories. All of this was added to the course iSite with the help of tools like iFrame, Slides, and Video Publishing.

Learn more at The African City course website and at

Project Report: Classroom Experiments using Econvision


 The goal for this project was to use EconVision, a web-based tool for classroom experiments, to develop interactive instructional materials for courses on political and economic decision-making. These materials would enable students to actively play the theoretical models that they were learning about and to discuss and explore the data that they created. In addition, statistical code would analyze the output of the games.

ATG staff developed 10 modules, each covering a unique concept, and a 250+ page manual on active learning and strategic interaction. The modules included instructions, specially selected EconVision parameters, and a debriefing document with discussion questions as well as graphics (generated by R code) displaying data from the experiment. PITF staff introduced the social experiments with screencasts. During the 2011-2012 academic year, these materials were deployed in a fall GenEd class taught by Ken Shepsle and in a spring economics class taught by David Laibson.

According to Professor Shepsle, “The social experiments worked very well and provide an engaging and hands-on way for students to learn the concepts taught in the course. Online experiments in particular allow for more functionality and a better way to generate data…Students really liked the social experiments and are asking for more. Students appeared more engaged with the online experiments than with the pen and pencil one.”

In addition to R code and the game play interface at, ATG staff used LaTeX and Stata to accomplish this project.

Learn more at

Project Report: Collaborative Learning in Applied Mathematics


Students enrolled in “Applied Mathematics 104: Complex and Fourier Analysis” tackle topics from series expansions and their convergence; to complex functions, mappings, differentiation, integration, residues, Taylor and McLaurin expansions; to wave (Fourier) and wavelet expansions and transformations, and their uses in signal and image analysis and solving differential equations. The course emphasizes the application of these concepts through examples from the physical and social sciences.

The goal for this project was to set up an online question tool that would allow students to ask questions (synchronously during lectures or asynchronously) in order to encourage collaborative learning for a course whose content is usually challenging to grasp. Ideally, the tool would support mathematical equations, allow students to post questions anonymously, and enable feedback so that students and staff could evaluate the quality of both questions and answers. The best tool would also be easy to use, have an engaging, dynamic interface for both students and teaching staff, and provide good user support.

ATG staff identified Piazza, a wiki-style online Q&A platform, as the product of choice for this purpose after researching several Q&A tools (Piazza, OSQA, and the Berkman Question Tool) and evaluating them based on the criteria above.

Learn more at the course iSite and at

Project Report: Collaborative Annotation in Government 2001


There were several ambitious goals for this ATG project: synchronizing lecture slides with lecture videos at corresponding timestamps; creating an R statistical code library and attaching it to specific points in the lecture videos; building a concept map of the entire course; and parsing annotations created by students from the previous semester in order to associate them with specific points in the lecture videos.

ATG staff accomplished the following:

  • Edited full lecture videos from entire course, then segmented them into shorter lecture topic videos and loaded them into the iSites Collaborative Annotation Tool (CAT).
  • Upgraded the Collaborative Annotation Tool to allow posting of annotations to images.
  • Added lecture slides as instructor annotations and associated them with the corresponding topic videos time range segments for students to review and add reply commentaries.
  • Completely reorganized the course website, linking and cross-referencing all lecture assets – readings, notes, videos, R code library, problem sets and examples – to enable students coherent and contextualized access to online material.
  • Implemented NB, an open source PDF annotation tool for students to add notes to scientific publications.

The tools and technologies used included:

  • HTML 5, CSS, JavaScript (jQuery)
  • PHP
  • Flash
  • R Code
  • NB annotation tool

Professor Gary King continues to incorporate collaborative annotation systems and other collaborative learning tools into Government 2001. Learn what’s new at the course website.