Developing the Humanities HyperMedia Centre @ Acadia University

panel / roundtable
  1. 1. Richard Cunningham

    Department of English - Acadia University

  2. 2. David Duke

    Department of History & Classics - Acadia University

  3. 3. John Eustace

    Department of English - Acadia University

  4. 4. Anna Galway

    Acadia University

  5. 5. Erin Patterson

    Vaughan Memorial Library - Acadia University

Work text
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We propose a panel session of five speakers, one of whom
will act as chair also, to discuss the process of
implementing a new initiative in humanities computing, the
Humanities Hypermedia Centre, that has been under
development at Acadia University since the fall of 2002.
At Acadia all faculty and students are issued with the same
model of laptop computer outfitted with a common software
template in order to enhance networking capabilities and ensure
that all students have the opportunity to become proficient in
the use of that software. Through funding from the McConnell
Family Foundation, the Humanities HyperMedia Centre (HHC)
was implemented to ensure that humanities students in particular
were given opportunities to create their own new media projects
and publish them in a dedicated database, the Acadia
Humanities HyperMedia Archive, or AhHa!
AhHa! will be a database of digital objects and new media
projects created primarily by Acadia students. It will give
students access to each other's work and provide them with
opportunities to contribute-and to know they are contributing-to
the creation of a substantial, verified, body of work. It will also
enable them to compile sophisticated examples of their own
work for display when they leave Acadia. AhHa! is designed
to allow faculty members to share teaching and research
material in a more efficient manner than has been available
It is the goal of the HHC to ensure that students graduate with
a firm grounding in the Arts and Humanities, as well as a high
level of information literacy and cutting edge skills in digital
We have learned - sometimes the hard way - that developing
and implementing a complex initiative involving six academic
units (Classics, English, History, Philosophy, the university
library system, and the Acadia Institute for Teaching
Technology-an in-house technological development office) is
a lengthy, challenging, and often surprising process. By the
time of the ACH/ALLC Conference some of the components
of the HHC will be up and running, whilst others will still be
awaiting their launch. We therefore intend to offer the panel
both to discuss the challenges we have faced, and the
discoveries we have made, as we evolved the project from
proposal stage to implementation, and also to solicit advice
from other teams that have undergone or are undertaking the
same process. Specifically we intend to address issues such as:
• The logistics of pedagogy - how do we assure program
viability by gaining long-term financial and teaching
commitments from teaching units, support units, and
• The pitfalls of program development - unforeseen problems
in proposing, developing, and setting up the administrative
support for a new Multidisciplinary Minor in Hypermedia.
• Factors that contribute to the robustness of a program such
as the HHC - and factors that contribute to its fragility. On
the positive side these can be long term financial
commitments from granting agencies; recognition from
administrative planning sectors that new, multidisciplinary
projects like HHC require a rethink of "faculty
complement", especially on a departmental basis; ongoing
technological support that ensures synergy between
pedagogy and technological development, both hardware
and software; and an administrative recognition that the
development of innovative projects such as HHC need to
be factored into the career review of those involved. On the
negative side, bureaucratic neglect, problems of working
within the short-term planning cycle common to most
universities (and especially to most university departments),
departmental parochialism and even outright
competitiveness, and unanticipated events - such as labour
actions or funding changes - can all affect the long-term
viability of a program, however agile its implementation.
• The impact of working on such a project for a group of
young, relatively junior and recently-appointed faculty
members and technical personnel.
We therefore propose to offer a panel consisting of four
members of the HHC team and a student who enrolled in both
of the first two courses offered by the HHC. Each of the team
members will discuss the process of development and implementation from a different perspective, while our student
will offer observations on the challenges and rewards of
participating in the HHC.
Richard Cunningham: The team leader and point-person
whose name is most closely associated with the program
university-wide. His presentation will focus on the senior liaison
aspects of the program, both with administration and with
component departments and non-academic partners.
David Duke: A team member who has been active primarily
on the pedagogical side of the program. His presentation will
focus on the pressures of developing a "non-departmental"
offering, and will discuss the opportunities inherent in this
particular multidisciplinary project.
John Eustace: A team member who was particularly active in
the early phase of the program, John left on a year-long
sabbatical and has returned to continue his association with the
project. His absence and return allows for a unique perspective
from an "outsider-insider" who can comment on the nature of
progress in a project such as this.
Anna Galway: A student in Sixteenth-century Literature and
in Twentieth-century English Literature and Culture, the first
two classes to be offered as HHC courses, will speak to the
experience of learning to create hypertextual documents and
submit them to a database still undergoing beta-testing.
Erin Patterson: A team member who has been active on both
the pedagogical and technical sides of the project, whose
background is not classroom-based but library science. Her
presentation will cover the opportunities and pitfalls inherent
in involving a university sector that has been traditionally
ancillary to the direct pedagogical or curriculum development
sectors of the university.

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Conference Info

In review


Hosted at University of Victoria

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

June 15, 2005 - June 18, 2005

139 works by 236 authors indexed

Affiliations need to be double checked.

Conference website:

Series: ACH/ICCH (25), ALLC/EADH (32), ACH/ALLC (17)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None