Web Tutorials: The JTAP Seminars to Teach Literature

  1. 1. Stuart D. Lee

    Oxford University

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his paper will outline the activities of the first phase of the JISC Technology Applications Programme 'Virtual Seminars' Project, namely the development of four on-line tutorials to teach First World War poetry.

To begin with the talk will look at other projects which are using the Internet to teach humanities-based subjects. What do these have in common? Are there any design features which can be distinguished as common to all the projects, and which in turn could be identified as being wedded to the humanities. At the same time the numerous advantages of using the Web as a successful teaching medium will be outlined, as will a the recent EC-funded initiatives such as ACO*HUM and EUROLITERATURE.

The mainstay of this talk will be a discussion of the four tutorials developed under the JTAP project which have been freely available on the Web since 1st October 1997, moreover, the tutorial entitled 'Isaac Rosenberg's 'Break of Day in the Trenches'' (the second tutorial in the JTAP series) has been available since January 1995 making it one of the first humanities web-based tutorials developed.

The tutorials are structured as follows:

1) An Introduction to First World War Poetry in which simple hypertext is used outlining the main poets (British) from the Western Front.

2) Isaac Rosenberg's 'Break of Day in the Trenches' - a more elaborate hypertext system is used here to teach close reading of a text (and to record users' responses to the poem).

3) An Introduction to Manuscript Studies using a frame-based approach the user is presented with digital facsimiles of the four manuscripts of Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum est' and asked to create their own edition.

4) An Introduction to Text Analysis using TACTWeb and the most recently edited version of Wilfred Owen's war poems the user can run increasingly more complicated text analysis routines. In addition to these there is a Web-based bulletin board and an extensive links of material relating to the subject of the War. From the project management side the site also contains several reports, one introducing 'Existing Tools and Projects for On-Line Teaching', another is a case study by an MA student on the development of the site, a third is an outline of the process of manuscript digitisation. The talk will include a brief outline of the contents of all of these reports and of the tutorials themselves.

However, the talk will predominantly look at the design of all the tutorials. At which point should a linear approach be adopted as opposed to a more elaborate hypertext structure. How can one design a tutorial to allow users to compare manuscripts and create their own editions? What solutions are there for delivering straightforward text analysis via the Web at a minimal cost? How does one secure copyright to use such material in teaching packages? All of these issues will be answered and solutions and advice will be offered to other projects.

Although some of the content of this talk is similar to the paper delivered by Groves and Lee at the Digital Resources in the Humanities Conference in Oxford, 1997, it will have substantially more information to present in terms of feedback, project reports, and future initiatives. Furthermore it provides essential background to the detailed papers by Groves and Porter.

Conference Info

In review

"Virtual Communities"

Hosted at Debreceni Egyetem (University of Debrecen) (Lajos Kossuth University)

Debrecen, Hungary

July 5, 1998 - July 10, 1998

109 works by 129 authors indexed

Series: ACH/ALLC (10), ACH/ICCH (18), ALLC/EADH (25)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC