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   Resources Transcriptions Technology Facilities


  1. Transcriptions & English Dept. Computing Facilities
  2. Software Used by Transcriptions
  3. Typical Uses of Tech in Transcriptions (& LCI) Courses
  4. Other UCSB Computing Facilities
  5. Also: The Secret Life of Technology

More tech guides Transcriptions technology paradigm

P Technology Still Lifearadigm for technology in a humanities department.

Transcriptions is about bringing information technology into the core intellectual and practical work of higher-education humanities. Intellectually, the project focuses on integrating the exploration of past and present media cultures.

Practically, the project demonstrates the paradigm for a new kind of humanities department that runs its own in-house technology as an integral part of its mission of learning and teaching. (See full statement of Transcriptions technology mode; see also the Secret Life of Technology.)

Transcriptions & English Dept. Computing Facilities

Transcriptions Studio

Transcriptions Studio, South Hall 2509Transcriptions Studio, South Hall 2509

Transcriptions began building in the fall of 1998 a combination research-and-development lab and seminar room located in the UCSB English Department (South Hall 2509). The completed studio holds computers at one end and a seminar table at the other so as to create a hybrid space of intellectual and practical use. Currently, the studio contains eight workstations (450-500 Mhz PCs with 19-inch and 21-inch monitors running Windows 2000), a digital projector, two high-performance laptops for mobile classroom and conference presentations, a scanner, a printer, a mini-DVD camcorder and Web cam, and audio recording equipment. These machines are networked to a set of servers managed by the English Department (Web server, database server, LAN-server, and name server). (Original room plan for studio)

The studio, which holds up to about 20 people, is a mixed-use space where faculty and students develop Web sites and classes or meetings are held. It is not unusual to see students working on the computers at one end of the room while a class or colloquium occurs at the other end.

Transcriptions Studion in Use
Transcriptions graduate student research assistants
at work in the Transcriptions Studio, South Hall 2509

Media Classroom

Media Classroom

In 2001-2002, Transcriptions and the UCSB English Department created a new computer classroom that significantly extends the instructional use of information technology. Located in South Hall 1415, the classroom holds up to 36 people and includes the following equipment (photos available when the room is placed in service in fall 2002):

  • In-place instructor's computer station and digital projector
  • Five networked laptops, each switchable to the digital projector
  • Ethernet ports for additional laptops (brought by students or conference participants)
  • Web cam and microphone equipment for meetings with remote guest speakers
  • VCR and DVD players

Such a multi-station, networked, and scalable classroom gives Transcriptions an opportunity to design new kinds of instructional activities and assignments. Because of the limitations of previous classrooms and infrastructure (typically limited to one instructor's computer and digital projector), Transcriptions was in the past constrained in the way it used information technology (IT)—such that, for example, the in-class display of student Web projects was segregated from the actual collaborative work needed to make such projects (which occurred in a separate computing lab facility) as well as from the online discussion of such projects (which occurred asynchronously by e-mail). Such compartmentalized IT made it difficult to synthesize the right mixture of IT practices. It also made it hard to consolidate IT practices with face-to-face group discussion.

Pedagogical uses for the classroom include:

  • Media ClassroomParticipatory use of IT during class discussion. Up to now, Transcriptions instructors have usually used IT in the classroom only to show students particular digital resources (the equivalent of saying to the class, "turn to page 121 in your book") or to allow a single student at a time to show a work or project. There has been no good way for listening students to participate actively in the use of IT so that they can say in response, "Look here instead" or "Look at it in this way (invoking a different configuration of the program, enacting a different algorithm upon the data set, etc.). Transcriptions is developing pedagogies that allow students to take an active role in showing/commenting on digital works during group discussion.

  • Collaborative, team-based Web-authoring assignments. Each quarter, Transcriptions/LCI gives workshops for students on Web-authoring basics and sets up times in labs so that students can work together on assignments. But such activities are not well suited to the standard IT-equipped classroom in which there is only a single computer and projector; nor is it well suited to campus labs where, though there are multiple stations, the configuration of the computers, choice of software, etc., are not controlled by the faculty and cannot be accessed for group activities at need (without advance scheduling). Transcriptions uses its new Multi-Station Computing Classroom to accommodate in-class team-working on student projects and in-class presentation/discussion of such projects.

  • Virtual Visit by Talan Memmott in Rita Raley's English 165LTReal-time "chat" visits with participating experts and other students around the world. One of the highest priorities of Transcriptions/LCI is to develop pedagogies that can take advantage of a multi-station classroom to offer "real-time," in-class visits with people in remote locations—visits in which the usual problems of chat environments (e.g., a tendency toward fragmentation of discourse) can be offset by a live sense of community and the guidance of the instructor. There are two uses of such pedagogy that the project wishes to implement in particular:

    Chats with experts on information technology and information culture, including faculty at other universities, researchers in engineering or science labs, and people from the government and business sectors of society. (Prof. Rita Raley conducted a proof-of-concept demonstration of a class chat visit in her English 165 course.)

    Virtual visit by hypermedia writer Talan Memmott in Rita Raley's English 165LT, "Hypertext Fiction and Digital Poetries," Dec. 5, 2002 (event description)

    Rita Raley

    Talan Memmott


    Real-time interaction with courses at other universities in the U. S. and around the world.

  • In-class discussion of complex, multimedia works. One of the difficulties in teaching recent "new media" literature and art is that the works created by experimenters in digital or networked literature/art are very difficult to "show" in class. For example, a work on CD-ROM or an online work that is navigated through Flash or Javascript links cannot easily be shown because an instructor is unable to "link" to the appropriate page but must instead laboriously navigate to that page. Other new-media or online works require significant load-times. And some new-media literary/artistic works purposefully disable the normal navigational tools in a Web browser (e.g., the "back" button) or create abnormal digital experiences (e.g., art works that appear to take over a user's browser automatically or create non-standard interfaces that make it impossible for a user to tell another user where to click/go to see a particular page). In these circumstances, Transcriptions and its Literature & Culture of Information specialization for undergraduates needs pedagogies that utilize the multi-station capabilities of its new classroom to mount a repertory of sites and pages, each of which can be switched to the digital projector for display.

  • Media ClassroomNew uses of digital sound in courses. In keeping with the quick evolution of hypertext fiction and poetry to new media writing, teaching and research in Transcriptions/LCI investigates material, literary, and aesthetic artifacts whose properties include word, image, motion, and sound. In one course, for example, Professor Rita Raley links two modes of experimental writing (visual poetry and sound poetry) to digital new media, a focus that encouraged students to incorporate sound into their own Web-based final projects. To facilitate pedagogy in the areas of sound and recording media, Transcriptions has acquired a high-quality microphone and digital sound mastering software for its studio and is developing accompanying pedagogical methods and resources (guides for student research and practice of digital sound, annotated examples of the way sound is used in contemporary digital poetry, bibliographies of resources, etc.).

Other English Department Computing Facilities

The UCSB English Department has created several other rooms and centers in the department with computing facilities:

South Hall 2635

Dual-use seminar classroom and presentation/conference room containing an ceiling-mounted digital projector, podium, and network hookups for a laptop computer. Seating between 20 and 60 people (depending on whether the furniture is configured as a seminar or presentation space), the room is used for Transcriptions classes as well as a variety of department talks and meetings.
  Transcriptions Class in South Hall 2635
Students in English 165CI, Culture of Information, present their Web projects in South Hall 2635

Early Moden Center, South Hall 2510


Seminar and library space in the Early Modern Center, South Hall 2510

Early Modern Center, South Hall 2510

Computer stations in the Early Modern Center. The EMC also contains an image scanner and slide scanner for development of its Early Modern image gallery.

Early Modern Center

In-place presentation computing station and digital projector allow for convenient use of the the Early Modern Center's online image gallery and other resources during clases and events.

Early Modern Center (South Hall 2510)

Located in South Hall 2510 across the hall from the Transcriptions Studio, the English Department's Early Modern Center (EMC) contains a suite of computers and scanning equipment at one end and a seminar space and library with digital projector at the other. The EMC uses the space for research colloquia and classes associated with its Early Modern Studies (EMS) undergraduate specialization. (More about the EMC and EMS)

American Cultures Center

American Cultures Center The American Cultures Center (ACC) includes a seminar room (South Hall 2716) and a research conference room (South Hall 2710) with a reference library and access to on-line databases. The ACC's events support the construction of new courses associated with the English Department's American Cultures Specialization (ACS) for undergraduates. The ACC also disseminates research by converting the results of major conferences hosted by the unit into collected volumes and web-based publications. (More on the ACC and ACS)

Computers in American Cultures Center

The American Cultures Center supports a range of activities including:

  • individual and collaborative research
  • lectures, workshops, and seminars
  • major conferences
  • innovative curricular development
  • the production of collected volumes/working papers
  • the production of web-based resources

Software Used by Transcriptions

The primary software used by developers and students in the Transcriptions project is currently as follows. All except the server software is available in the Transcriptions Studio:

Platform (Operating Systems)

  • Currently, Transcriptions works in a Windows 2000 environment


  • Transcriptions Coursebuilder System (login required): Programmed by Eric Weitzel, a Transcriptions research and teaching assistant, Coursebuilder is a custom system that allows UCSB English Department instructors to create full-fledged course Web sites through the use of Web forms. Course sites include pages for overviews, schedules of reading, assignments, student projects, etc., as well as class notes pages (for outlines, texts, or multimedia to be used during class meetings). Course content is kept in a SQL Server database that dynamically generates Web pages. Instructors may choose one of a number of frontend "skins" for the display of their course site depending on the nature of the course. Skins exist for courses given by the Transcriptions project and the UCSB English Department's Early Modern Center and American Cultures Center. There is also a skin for UCSB English Department courses in general. (Example of course created with Coursebuilder)

Web Authoring Software

Graphics Software

Video and Audio Software

  • Adobe Premiere
  • Sonic Foundry Sound Forge

Database Software

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000 (on dedicated database server)
  • ASP and VBscript for database-to-Web middleware

Server Software

  • Web Server: Windows 2000 and Internet Information Server (IIS)
  • Database Server: Windows 2000, SQL Server 2000

Chat / Collaboration Software

  • Microsoft Netmeeting
  • Ultimate Bulletin Board

Other major software tools used by Transcriptions in the past include: Microsoft Exchange Server, Softquad HotMetal, Filemaker.

Typical Uses of Technology
in Transcriptions (and LCI) Courses

Courses in the Transcriptions Project and its Literature & Culture of Information specialization (LCI) require students to use information technology both to conduct online research and to create assignments. Assignments in courses commonly ask students to use several of the following technologies:

Most basically, courses use e-mail to allow students and instructors to engage with each other outside class. E-mail use can be both individual and collective (the latter facilitated by listservs that allow participants in a course to address all class members).

Courses sometimes engage in virtual meetings (voice, image, and text-based chat using the Microsoft Netmeeting client) with guest speakers in other locations.

Most Transcriptions courses require students to create Web resources. Such assignments may be either individual or team-based. They may be as simple as mounting an essay or annotated bibliography on the Web; or they may be as complex as creating a hypertextual resource on an author or issue.

Some Transcriptions courses use audio technology for purposes ranging from the recitation and evaluation of early manuscripts (in the era of transition between oral and writing cultures) to the study of experimental digital music.

Technically advanced graduate students in some Transcriptions courses design SQL Server or Access databases and use Dreamweaver MX to code database-to-Web pages for the presentation of projects with dynamic data. (Example: Robert Adlington's project titled Of Labyrinths and Lines: Notes on the Spatiality of Hypertexts and Narratives.)

Other UCSB Computing Facilities

Students in Transcriptions courses also have access to UCSB campus computing facilities outside the English Department:

  • Instructional Computing (IC) Located in various PD and Mac labs in Phelps Hall, Instructional Computing provides access to computers, a variety of software, and introductory workshops. Typically, Transcriptions courses arrange for IC "bench time" for their students—i.e., preferred access to open lab hours. To take advantage of this access, students in Transcriptions courses need to visit the Phelps Hall courtyard during the first week of classes in each quarter to get a sticker (bring proof of membership in a Transcriptions class—e.g., a syllabus). (More info on Instructional Computing and schedule of labs and workshops)

  • Humanities and Social Sciences Computing (for graduate students only). UCSB graduate students may use the two Humanities and Social Sciences computer labs. One is in 2626 Ellison Hall; the other in 1203 Humanities and Social Sciences Building. (Lab hours)

Also: The Secret Life of Technology

A whimsical meditation on the technology that Transcriptions depends upon. (Go to Secret Life of Technology page)

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