CTI Textual Studies

Annual Report 1997-98

1. Support for Teaching and Learning

Throughout the activities of the Centre this year collaboration has been at the forefront. The Centre has endeavoured to integrate its traditional activities of workshops and publications with more imaginative ways of reaching, encouraging, and influencing the community it serves. Following on from the successful film and performance conference in 1997, this year we ran an equally successful conference for all involved in the teaching of European literature and culture. The aim of the conference was to complement the work of the CTI Centre for Modern Languages and provide a forum for lecturers teaching non-English literatures. Our invited speakers covered French, German, Spanish, and Italian literature and other issues included Internet access to cultural resources, translations, and using authorial drafts to teach the writing process.

The Centre continued its programme of institutional workshops. We find that university sector colleges and the newer universities tend to be the most enthusiastic in their reception of C&IT for teaching and learning. The emphasis of the presentations requested by host institutions has shifted over the years. The most popular presentations now tend to include identifying opportunities, obstacles, and solutions on the one hand and the effective use of electronic mail and the Web for learning on the other. At a number of institutional workshops we collaborated with Chadwyck-Healey to promote the recent CHEST agreement for HE subscriptions to the Literature Online service, an example of working with commercial organisations when there may be tangible benefits for the Centre's community.

The Centre's outreach to its community continued with participation in a number of academic UK conferences this year including those of the Classical Association and the Society for Theological Studies, both of which are new to the Centre's conference circuit. The interdisciplinary nature of the Centre was also demonstrated by an invitation to speak at the conference of the British Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Society, many of whose members were previously unaware of the CTI.

2. Gateways for Information

The Centre, by appointing a project assistant with Web design skills, has started implementing a strategy to better integrate the range of available online resources. We are working towards a situation where visitors should be able to generate views of all the resources on the Centre's web site immediately relevant to their subject needs including articles and reviews from Computers & Texts, appropriate entries in the Guide to Digital Resources, published answers to enquiries, and other related material.

The Centre has a wide remit for a substantial number of humanities disciplines. As part of an initiative entitled UK-Hum-IT, we have created a Mailbase list for representatives from centrally-funded humanities projects with the aim of facilitating collaborative ventures, and also a Web site for the humanities community which brings together the various projects under their respective subject areas (at http://info.ox.ac.uk/ctitext/uk-hum- it.html).

As part of its subject support the Centre maintains an annotated gateway to Theological resources on the Internet, probably the most significant theological gateway in the UK. This year the gateway was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education. As a result of this recognition the Centre surveyed the gateway's users who responded with a preference for both a searchable database and browsable pages. The Centre, in collaboration with the HumBul Gateway, has started to develop a pilot ROADS gateway which will have the advantage of potentially being interoperable with the centrally-funded subject gateways and other Z39.50 compliant catalogues.

3. Leading Innovation

The Centre not only works with other organisations and programmes to raise awareness of the resources available and possibilities offered by C&IT but also collaborates to lead innovation and effect change. The Centre has worked closely with the JTAP Virtual Seminars Project, also based in Oxford, which has developed a set of innovative tutorials and an archive of resources for the teaching of World War I poetry. The Centre has made a significant contribution to the final stages of the project's development by encouraging its integration into specific courses and undertaking the initial evaluation through close, structured contact with lecturers and students making use of the materials. The results were presented to the 1998 ACH/ALLC Conference where they generated much discussion.

The Centre is a partner in the TLTP 3 ASTER Project (Assisting Small-group teaching through Electronic Resources) with particular responsibility for the humanities. The Centre will produce a survey of literature and a range of case studies relating to the effectiveness of using C&IT to extend access to, in some cases to replace, or to enhance tutorials, seminars, and other forms of small-group teaching in the humanities. The ASTER Project is an ideal complement to the CTI Centre which has long recognised the need for a structured and systematic series of case studies relating to humanities teaching but until now has not had the resources to undertake the work.

4. Catalysts for Change

The CTI Centre co-ordinated a high profile report funded by the JISC Committee on Awareness, Liaison and Training and under the overall management of the Arts & Humanities Data Service into the information requirements of scholars teaching and researching within UK higher education. The gathering of evidence and opinions as well as the writing of the final report was an extremely useful exercise in terms of providing a wide-angled snapshot of the Centre's community on which the Centre could focus as it prepared its own strategy for the final year of funding. It was quite evident to the Centre that whilst on the one hand there was a helpful convergence in the conclusions of the AHDS Study and the Atkins Report concerning future support for Teaching and Learning, on the other hand scholars in the humanities do have demonstrable needs in terms of support and resources which differ from those of other academic communities. Many of the recommendations put forward in the AHDS Study are unambiguous and of high priority. Their implementation will fulfil the immense potential that digital resources and techniques offer for academic teaching and research; members of the Centre's community will be in a better position to make choices about digital resources based on their intrinsic value rather than based on issues surrounding the available funding, support infrastructure and other mechanisms for integration.

The Centre has been proactive in encouraging synergy between individuals and groups of academics within its community. One fruitful way in which this is achieved is through representing the community's interests on the programme committee of humanities-related C&IT conferences: during this period the Centre was a member of the programme committees of 'Teaching and Language Corpora' (Oxford), 'Digital Resources for the Humanities' (Glasgow), and ALT-C (Oxford). The Centre was also invited to join the Oxford Text Archive's Advisory Board and the Steering Committee of the eLib- funded MALIBU Project. The latter project is exploring the use of hybrid libraries in the humanities and epitomises the type of interdisciplinary and inter-organizational collaboration the Centre regards as particularly important for the effective use of digital resources.

Even on a much smaller scale, within a workshop at a single institution, the Centre has found that it can act as a catalyst for change by simply gathering together colleagues from different disciplines and academic services. More often than not this is the first time that a group so composed has met together in the context of digital resources and, as a group, can frequently identify hitherto unperceived opportunities offered by C&IT, and suggest solutions for levelling barriers to its effective use within their own institution.

Document Author: Michael Fraser
Document Last Modified: 13 November 1999