The Scholar’s Box

The Scholar’s Box is a four-year U.S. Department of Education project to develop models for creating and sharing open and reusable digital collections to improve campus scholarship and K-12 education. The Scholar’s Box is supported in part by the US Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE Grant # P116B040739).

1. Develop models for campus production and sharing of reusable digital collections by lowering the barriers to gathering information, creating new works, sharing content, and saving the products of these efforts.

2. Engage a range of campus faculty and departments to produce and test reusable digital collections and assess their value for higher and K-12 education.

3. Enable campus adoption of strategic sharing technologies and university digital resources for teaching, research, learning and  public service.

4. Develop a center on campus for digital scholarship in the public interest [OKAPI] that will foster the wide spread adoption of digitally empowered scholarly practices in support of the public education system from K through graduate student.

5. Disseminate project models and tools, resources, findings, and “better practices” to libraries, musuems, and K-12 and higher education professionals, locally and nationally.

Paul Gray, Principal Investigator
David Greenbaum, Data Services Director
Ruth Tringham, Faculty Advisor
Noah Wittman, Project Manager (2007-08)
Michael Ashley, Project Manager (2006), Information Architect
Amy Kimball, Finance Manager
Elizabeth Ha, Media Production Manager
Denise Phelps, Digital Media Specialist
Ona Johnson, Curriculum Developer
Jeanne Lopiparo, Design and Communications

Daniel Wei, Second Life Scripting and Modeling
Burcu Tung, Content Developer for Remixing Catalhoyuk
Raymond Yee, Software Architect
Isaac Mankita, Project Research
Chris Ashley, Project Research

Project Summary
The Scholar’s Box developed tools, practices, and a new program at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), to enable campus scholars, academic departments, libraries, and museums to create and share open and reusable digital collections for campus scholarship, K-12 education, and lifelong learning.

Staff worked with numerous campus groups, developing production workflows, technologies, and digital collections for an undergraduate course (Open Archaeology Collection); a research group (Remixing Catalhoyuk); a department (Anthropology Digital Resource Pool); a campus-wide service (Media Vault Program); and a UC system-wide collection (Calisphere). The open source OKAPI Theme Package was developed for museum exhibits and digital collections.

Staff developed a process for creating and publishing digital collections through numerous users studies, pilot projects, and focus groups at UC Berkeley. Our tripartite approach to publishing (Archive, Themed Collections, and Exhibits) accommodates a broad range of use scenarios. The Research Archive contains all of the raw data and technical metadata of interest to specialists. Our Themed Collections facilitate reuse by teachers and learners; each Themed Collection contains introductory articles, classroom activities, and carefully selected and annotated resources. Our Exhibits use interactive multimedia to introduce visitors to the collections.

The project piloted numerous technologies for publishing digital collections—including commercial and open source digital asset management software and Web services—such as Flickr, YouTube, Connexions, and Curriki. Informed by these, we developed a theme package (theme, layouts, and plugins) for Omeka, a Web-based platform for museum exhibits and collections from the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. The OKAPI Theme Package enables Omeka users without expert Web design or database skills to create polished multimedia exhibits and collections.

Staff launched a new initiative for digital scholarship in the public interest, in which the core work of the Scholar’s Box is a centerpiece. Based in the Office of the Chief Information Officer, Open Knowledge and the Public Interest (OKAPI) brings together faculty, students, and staff at UC Berkeley to forge new tools for sharing knowledge and creativity across borders and communities around the world. OKAPI has successfully incorporated Scholar’s Box tools and practices into two campus programs: the OKAPI Public Understanding of Research (PUR) program and the Media Vault Program (MVP). PUR helps campus scholars translate research data and knowledge into valuable public resources for research, teaching, and learning. Our staff participated as co-founders, key partners, and advisors in the development of UC Berkeley’s Media Vault Program, a proof-of-concept project to provide campus digital collection owners with digital asset management and preservation services.

The Scholar’s Box project has positively impacted the scholarship of hundreds of students, faculty, and researchers. Our public collections and online resources have reached thousands more remote users and the MVP and OKAPI programs will have widespread and lasting impact.

Staff have have shared project products and findings on the OKAPI Web site and at numerous national conferences, including the FIPSE Annual Directors’ Meetings (2007, 2008), Digital Library Federation Forum (2007, 2008), World Archaeological Congress 2008, and Free Culture 2008. The Scholar’s Box received several national awards, including the 2007 Open Archaeology Prize from the American Schools of Oriental Research and the 2008 Virtual Learning Prize from the New Media Consortium.

Raymond Yee’s Scholar’s Box Software
An early inspiration for this project

Mankita, Isaac et al. “A Handful of Things:Calisphere’s Themed Collections from the California Digital Library”  D-Lib Magazine. May 2006.
Describes data gathering and design process of Calisphere Themed Collections.

Scholar’s Box eLiterature Review

Case Studies of Digital Collections Use

Focus Group Report:

Catalia Digitization Lab:
Created to pilot digitization and digital asset management services

Curiosity Box
An effort to collect feedback and “prized research and teaching resources” from a broad range of faculty. This project is on hold.

Anthropology Digital Resource Pool:
Designed to facillitate sharing of digital research and teaching materials

Open Archaeology Collection
Open access materials for teaching archaeology

Remixing Catalhoyuk
This multimedia exhibit shares the products and process of an international team of archaeologists

Okapi Island in Second Life
An offshoot of the Remixing Catalhoyuk project and an effort to explore the project goals within the more immersive, social, and participatory environment of Second Life

Omeka Theme
Our Omeka theme will provide an open source solution for publishing our digital collections

Media Vault Program
Many of the technologies and practices pioneered in the Scholar’s Box have been folded into the campu-wide Media Vault Program

Public Outreach 2.0: Web Services for Sharing Research and Teaching Materials
We shared Remixing Catalhoyuk content at 9 different websites. This document compares the usability, unique features, licensing options, and resulting traffic of each of the sites.


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