Digital Archiving & Storytelling in the Classroom with Omeka & CurateScape

workshop / tutorial
  1. 1. Victoria Szabo

    Duke University

  2. 2. Hannah L. Jacobs

    Duke University

  3. 3. Edward Triplett

    Duke University

Work text
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Digital Archives and Exhibitions are one of the most accessible ways to bring historical and cultural materials into public circulation. This tutorial is an intensive introduction to archive development and storytelling within the Omeka content management and exhibition system (, which was developed by George Mason University’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. This tool has been tested in a variety of academic and cultural heritage settings and was developed with extensive input and revision from the academic community. Omeka enables users to input various types of digital media content using standardized metadata structures, to organize them into Collections, and to present them in multimedia digital narratives known as Exhibitions. The platform is easy to use, and can be installed as a package in many web hosting environments. We will also demonstrate the use of the CurateScape plugin, which allows users to create location-based itineraries drawn from Omeka items optimized for mobile devices. CurateScape (, developed by the Center for Public History and Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University, can be used in a wide variety of settings. They are freely available with the only cost to the scholar being web hosting. These advantages make both tools ideal for diverse classroom settings.
Over the course of the tutorial we will introduce participants to the principles of digital archive collection development using exercises developed for the Duke University Wired! Lab for Digital Art History and Visual Culture tutorials. Content types may include digital images, audio files, 3D models, video, text facsimiles, and other source materials. These Items may be annotated with descriptive elements, locations, and other metadata relevant to search and presentation. We will explore data input formats and techniques as part of the hands-on exercises. Items in Omeka may also be organized into location-based Tours using the CurateScape Framework, a set of freely available themes and plug-ins.
In addition to providing a technical, hands-on overview of the system, we will discuss data management and digital storytelling strategies for online archives and exhibitions that take advantage of these and other tools to support their successful use in a classroom setting. We will reflect on digital pedagogy by sharing examples of successful project-based seminars that have taken advantage of Omeka based systems to scaffold course assignments around topics including discovery and remediation of analog content into digital form; integration of secondary historical and critical sources into a dynamic archive; development of taxonomies and data structures; exploration of ways to collaborate on digital media project development; recontextualization of historical objects and locations; and presentation strategies for diverse audiences in academia and in the wider public. Participants in the session will come away with a solid understanding of the features of the Omeka system, the knowledge to create their own archives, strategies for teaching with these tools, and the ability to communicate their support needs to tech professionals in their local communities.
Our plan for the session is to provide a basic Omeka installation for each participant on our shared server in the Wired! Lab, and to provide instructions to users who wish to set up their own sites on Reclaim Hosting or another hosting platform. The mobile component of the tutorial will require users be able to access wifi or local data. We will bring a few devices for users to test their projects on.

Tutorial Outline

PART 1 (1:15)

Intro to the System and the Tools (including plug-ins)
Organizing and Preparing Data
Developing a Metadata Strategy
Creating Omeka Items and Collections
Adding in Additional Features

CSV Import

BREAK (0:15)
PART 2 (1:30 hours)

CurateScape Setup and Focused
Authoring Tours in CurateScape
Setup with QR Codes and Testing on Mobile Devices
Class Project Brainstorming and Pedagogy Discussion

Contact Info

Victoria Szabo
Associate Research Professor, Visual and Media Studies
Duke University
Szabo’s primary research focus is on media history and the critical and practical affordances of database-driven spatial media such as digital maps, games, virtual worlds, and mobile applications for teaching, research, and public outreach. She is especially interested in theories and practice of augmented reality experience design for digital heritage and creative expression, and has worked on location-based urban AR projects in Durham, NC and Venice, Italy, among other places. Her NC Jukebox digital audio archive project relies on the Omeka platform. She also develops art-games with the Psychasthenia Studio. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Rochester and is the Director of Duke’s Information Science + Information Studies Program and the Duke Digital Humanities Initiative. Before coming to Duke she worked as an Academic Technology Specialist and Manager at Stanford University.

Hannah L. Jacobs
Multimedia Analyst, Wired! Lab, Duke University
Hannah holds a MA in Digital Humanities from King’s College London and a BA in English/Theatre from Warren Wilson College. As Multimedia Analyst for the Wired! Lab at Duke University, she teaching web technologies, mapping, and 3D modeling tools for art history courses, as well as concepts for digital storytelling, historic mapping, and reconstruction. She teaches Omeka in a variety of course and humanities research contexts. She also consults on student-led faculty research projects and collaborates with digital humanities specialists across the university to develop workshops and resources for digital research. Hannah’s research interests include digital narrative, visual storytelling, digital pedagogies, and public digital humanities.
Edward Triplett
CLIR Fellow, Duke University
Ed recently received his PhD in the history of art and architecture from the University of Virginia. He also holds masters’ degrees in 3D Modeling and Animation and in Medieval History. He is experienced with photogrammetry, virtual reality, and various interactive online presentation systems, and has instructional experience as a Visualization Specialist at UVA. As a CLIR (Council of Library and Informational Resources) postdoctoral fellow at Duke University, Ed partners with the Duke Library and the Wired! Lab to form data curation and project management plans for born digital and digitized materials. His dissertation research combined 3D modeling and GIS techniques to reconsider the architectural history of military-religious orders in medieval Iberia. His research interests include computer vision, agent-based modeling, augmented reality and data visualization.

Description of Target Audience and Number of Participants

Anyone looking for ways to implement digital storytelling and archiving tools with students. Participant limit is fifteen.

Tech Support Requirements

Participants must bring their laptops. Everyone will need internet access. Access to Omeka and CurateScape will be provided by the instructors.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2016
"Digital Identities: the Past and the Future"

Hosted at Jagiellonian University, Pedagogical University of Krakow

Kraków, Poland

July 11, 2016 - July 16, 2016

454 works by 1072 authors indexed

Conference website:

Series: ADHO (11)

Organizers: ADHO