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Editors’ Choice: COVID-19 Roundup

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a range of reflections and resources related to digital humanities, especially on digital pedagogy, labor, data visualization, and online collections. We have collected some of them here, and we hope it serves as a useful resource for our readers.


The Stakes of Multilingual DH in the United States

Quinn Dombrowski

The urgency of so many decisions with large consequences — from conference cancellations that might push organizations into insolvency, to who will continue to be paid if classes and campus life come to an abrupt end — makes this a strange moment to pause and reflect on a cause such as Multilingual DH. Addressing linguistic representation in an always-porous and nebulously-defined interdisciplinary community hardly seems worth thinking about. But we now live in a world where universities feel forced to take drastic measures, and it seems naive to think that the current circumstances are best modeled as an aberration, from which we’ll soon get back to normal. We may be done with “normal” as we thought of it a month ago.

The New Normal

Lee Skallerup Bessette

I want to start with a quote from a good friend of mine who posted this in response to these extraordinary times: “Nothing will be perfect. Everything will be ok.” He wrote this in response to his institution moving to a distance learning format for the rest of the semester, like so many other institutions have, like my own institution has.

Notes from the Homeland: Day 1

John Laudun

While we may never know when COVID–19 first appeared, we can definitely date the moment here in the homeland when people realized that maybe they should take it seriously. It was the day the state closed K–12 schools for the month. It was also the day that the local university decided to cancel classes for two days and then re-open as an online-only institution. That was the day the toilet paper really began to fly (off the shelves).

The COVID 19 Chroniclers

Krista McCracken, Andrea Eidinger, Britt Luby, Carolyn Podruchny, and Sarah York-Bertram

We commit to chronicling our experiences working in academe throughout the coronavirus outbreak. We feel that our personal lives could reveal how privilege in the academy shapes our experiences. We chose the term “chroniclers” with intention, referring as it does to individuals who record events of historical significance. We feel that this word reflects not only the seriousness of the crisis we all face as well as our perspectives as historians observing the world changing before our eyes.


Digital Pedagogy

Of Continuity, Inclusion, and Productivity: Pedagogy in the Time of Contagion

Ann Gagné

And I guess that takes me to point one of this post which is for the past few days I have been supporting faculty and friends in higher ed to think about the remainder of the semester in terms of delivery, content, activities, and assessments. There are a lot of great suggestions being shared on Twitter, via email, via LMS and all of it is very inspiring and suggests that folk are ready to be creative in their approach to something that is unprecedented. However, there are two aspects to all of this that I am seeing being forgotten in all the transition: 1. thinking of the pedagogy before the technology and 2. thinking of access and inclusion of pedagogical choices.

Accessible Teaching in the Time of COVID-19

Aimi Hamraie

All of the below suggestions come from disability culture and community. Disabled people have been using online spaces to teach, organize, and disseminate knowledge since the internet was invented. Disabled people are leading survival praxis in apocalyptic times. Please recognize that the very types of remote access that universities now mandate for classrooms and conferences have been denied to disabled people. Please also recognize that disabled people have long engaged in refining methods for remote access to protests, classrooms, doctor’s offices, public meetings, and other events. Mention this in your classes so that students know they are benefitting from crip technology and praxis. Commit to accessible teaching because it is crip technoscience and disabled ingenuity that has made remote participation possible.

Getting Online: Lessons from Liberal Arts Colleges

Jenna Joo, Daniel Rossman

Many of the colleges and universities that are transitioning away from face-to-face courses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are residential institutions that have not historically provided widespread online instruction. Through multi-year evaluations of the Council of Independent Colleges’ (CIC) Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction and the Teagle Foundation’s Hybrid Learning and the Residential Liberal Arts Experience program, Ithaka S+R has worked with similar institutions as they have taken their first steps towards online and hybrid learning. For both projects, participating institutions worked together to develop online resources and courses that could be shared across institutions. While institutions that are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic to move online are likely focusing in the short-term on providing resources and courses for their own students, we believe the lessons learned from the CIC and Teagle projects are still relevant. Below we sketch out some of those lessons.

Dispatches from the Higher Ed #covidclassroom

Danielle Cooper

In today’s first dispatch from the #covidclassroom are instructors’ and students’ experiences on-the-ground, including navigating the tactics for making the transition online, balancing teaching, learning, and research, and the academic supports they are relying on along the way. These accounts are based on remote interviews that I conducted on March 14 and 15. We will continue to tell stories to help the higher education community understand emerging practices, needs, and gaps in this unprecedented situation.

Duke Kunshan University: A Case Study of Implementing Online Learning in Two Weeks

Catharine Bond Hill, Kevin M. Guthrie, Martin Kurzweil, Cindy Le

In February 2020, Duke Kunshan University (DKU) made the decision to finish the third semester of its relatively new bachelor’s degree program online, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In this case study, we document the decision-making and implementation of this move to online in a rapidly evolving situation in an effort to assist other colleges and universities as they decide how to proceed.

Going Online: A History Department Guide

Cate Denial

Don’t get hooked on being a tech wizard.  We’ve all refined our face-to-face teaching over many years; online teaching is its own craft, and we’re all beginners.  You might hear of all kinds of wonderful, exciting, zany approaches happening across campus. It’s not a competition. And low tech helps us to teach equitably.  Not all students will have the capability to video conference, for example.  Some may not be able to get online frequently at all. And remember, each of us may get sick.  Our courses should be designed so that they can be covered by someone else while we recover.

Being a Successful Student Online

Lee Skallerup Bessette

Setting yourself up to do well online is rooted in the same skills that have helped you do well in person—attentiveness, preparation, hard work, responsiveness, engagement—but the two modes of learning do have differences. As we have moved to an online environment for safety reasons, here are some tips to help you be successful in our new learning context…

6 Things to Consider when Moving a Course Online

Mary Chaktsiris

People, instructors and students, are feeling this uncertainty in multiple areas of their lives, and now in the area of course design with a sense of urgency about how to respond and adapt quickly. Abruptly transitioning your course to a new online pedagogical approach three quarters of the way through the term is not how you imagined it unfolding. When approaching the teaching of History, which often revolves around lecture-based transmission of knowledge, moving to digital pedagogies might seem like a stretch for your teaching strategy toolkit. You will need to pivot.

Resources to help you and students understand COVID-19 / Resources for Teaching Online

Jacqueline Wernimont, Cathy N. Davidson, et al.

For the time being, I sincerely think it is worth treating this as unusual – an emergency response, rather than expecting yourself to spin up a well-developed online course. As many people have noted, it takes training, resources, and technology (with support) to do this as a regular practice. I used to work at ASU where departments had studios for developing web-ready content and there was a suite of people whose job it was to help. This is not that scenario…


David Gaertner

This is a short post summarizing some of the research I have done over the past few days in preparation to move my UBC classes online. I owe a debt of gratitude to all of the generous scholars who have posted materials on Twitter and elsewhere–most specifically Jacqueline Wernimont and Cathy N. Davidson for their Teaching in the context of COVID-19 document. First, I think the most important thing to do is to work with what you know. This is not a time to learn new technology or pedagogy and you shouldn’t feel guilty because you don’t have the capacity to learn Blackboard.

Bringing the Flu into the Classroom

Thomas Peace

As many of us find ourselves working from home, and teaching online, I want to use today’s post to share a replicable assignment I used last year to engage students with the history of the Flu and how to use primary sources to study the past. Building on a partnership that Huron’s Community History Centre and Centre for Undergraduate Research Learning developed with Defining Moments Canada, an organization who, a few years ago, challenged history teachers and professors to focus on the Flu, we asked students to read through one week of London’s Free Press and Advertiser as well as the Ontario Death Registers for London and Middlesex County.


Elizabeth Minor

These lesson plans for online learning are adapted from Anthropology, Archaeology, Egyptology, and Digital Humanities courses I have taught at Wellesley College and UC Berkeley. FYI: my area of expertise is Sudanese and Egyptian Archaeology, as well as Museum Studies, Visual Digital Humanities, and Digital Archives. I’m posting these to help me think through how I will finish out the Spring 2020 semester at Wellesley College and as a resource for anyone in a similar situation. This is a brain-dump as I attempt to transition to online teaching next week, so please ignore any typos or run on sentences!

US History COVID-19 Response Online Pedagogy Ideas Shared Doc

Michael Kraemer, et al.

Share assignment ideas, resources, links, knowledge. Put your name on it as YOUR idea so we can cite and credit your brilliance! Be responsible, thoughtful, and civil using this shared document please. My main advice is…keep it simple. Discussion boards are FINE. Not everything has to be a crazy complicated project. You can’t reinvent the wheel in one year of preparing online teaching, nevermind two days or a few weeks. Try out or contribute one new thing and remember that it’s about helping our students explore history, with tech as a vehicle for doing so, not the reverse…

Archaeology Online Content Resources for Teachers and Students

Lewis Borck, et al.

Please add relevant online archaeological and historical content that would help teachers create lesson plans, and or students find content, during episodes of social distancing (and of course after). Content and topics often missed in standard corriculum would be incredibly valuable as well.



Precarious Labor, Student Workers, and Coronavirus

Kelli Yakabu

I’m taking a break from my series “To my fellow LIS Black, Indigenous, and People of Color” to talk about the impact coronavirus has had on the LIS field/students. I’m in Seattle, the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. I live near the Life Care Center of Kirkland, where the first U.S. death occurred and now where over 25 people have died. All Washington state K-12 schools have been cancelled for at least six weeks and the University of Washington, along with other higher education institutions, have moved online. Museums and public libraries have closed to the public, and buses and the streets of Seattle are empty. There’s no longer traffic at rush hour as many people now work from home. But what are the impacts on student library workers, grant-funded workers, or LIS students working on capstones, practicums, or internships?

Academic advice from cancer for the COVID-19 epidemic: let it go

Jonathan Sterne

Now that many societies are essentially moving indoors and toward social distancing, events are being cancelled, courses are going online, and I see a lot of academics in my social media feeds worrying about the talks not given, the events not attended, the work that will be unfinished, the failure to deliver the same course online that they would in the classroom (or they worry that it’s a case of disaster capitalism on the part of university administrations, or they fume that universities are willing to do this but not offer basic accommodations to their crip students). Maybe this is just deeper existential anxiety being worked out on the challenge to everyday life that we’re experiencing. But it may also be a conditioned response given how many academics go about their work lives (including me). My advice: let it go for now.

The People at Work

Seema Rao

This month’s topic was about the people who make up the ecosystem of work. Last week, I rambled about how work is a system. This week, I thought I’d share the stage with others to hear their ideas about their colleagues. And, I will. But, COVID-19 gave a useful coda to last week’s post. If anything shows the interconnectedness of human behavior, infectious disease certainly can. With the near-global diffusion of cell phones, there are very few adults who don’t know there is a virus on the loose. Collective meetings are ideal places for the virus to proliferate. People holding collective gathering spaces are working hard to make the best call about how to proceed. As one site moves to cancel, it sets into motion even more cancellations. The decision-making is happening like a Rube Goldberg, one event after another. And, we are all working through our choices together. There are probably plenty of workers right now trying to make these tough decisions, maybe even putting their health at risk. I appreciate them. Though, I also appreciate all the workers who are doing particularly hard tasks, keeping public spaces clean for example.

When Coronavirus Quarantine Is Class Warfare

Geoffrey Rockwell

The quarantine shows how many services we have available for those who do intellectual work that can be done online. It is as if we were planning to be quarantined for years. The quarantine shows how one class can isolate themselves, but at the expense of a different class that handles all the inconveniences of material stuff and physical encounters of living. We have the permanent jobs with benefits. They deal with delivering food and trash. We can isolate ourselves from diseases, they have to risk disease to work. The gig economy has expanded the class of precarious workers that support the rest of us.

Academic Library Strategies Shift to Closure and Restriction

Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Christine Wolff-Eisenberg

On Wednesday, March 11, at 8:00 pm ET, we deployed the “Academic Library Response to COVID19” survey in order to gather as-it-happens data from and for the academic library community. On Friday we presented our analysis of the first 24 hours of responses (n=213). Today we compare those results with the data gathered over the subsequent 48 hours (n=194).


Data and Data Visualization

Coronavirus, a Visual Rundown

Nathan Yau

And, as I’m sure you heard, the World Health Organization classified Covid-19 as a pandemic. Naturally, I continued voraciously consuming information about the coronavirus. Here’s a rundown of the useful visuals that have crossed my way. They didn’t help with the uneasiness, but they at least provide a window into what’s happening.

Mapping coronavirus, responsibly

Kenneth Field

We live in an amazing time as far as cartography is concerned. Technology allows, and actively supports rapid, democratized mapping. Data, compiled and published in near real-time (if not actual real-time) encourages people to get their hands dirty to see what they can make. Media outlets all rush to provide their audience with fast, visible content. Social media drives sharing of these maps at a breathtaking pace. When you throw in a developing human health story the ingredients are ripe for maps to take centre stage, as they have become with the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Let’s take a look at how maps can help shape the narrative and, as concern (fear?) grows, how to map the data responsibly.

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – Statistics and Research

(Our World in Data) Max Roser, Hannah Ritchie, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina

The purpose of this article on COVID-19 is to aggregate existing research, bring together the relevant data and allow readers to make sense of the published data and early research on the coronavirus outbreak. Most of our work focuses on established problems, for which we can refer to well-established research and data. COVID-19 is different. All data and research on the virus is preliminary; researchers are rapidly learning more about a new and evolving problem. It is certain that the research we present here will be revised in the future. But based on our mission we feel it is our role to present clearly what the current research and data tells us about this emerging problem and especially to provide an understanding of what can and cannot be said based on this available knowledge.

The Visual Evolution of the “Flattening the Curve” Information Graphic

Robert Kosara

Communication has been quite a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic, and data visualization hasn’t been the most helpful given the low quality of the data – see Amanda Makulec’s plea to think harder about making another coronavirus chart. A great example of how to do things right is the widely-circulated Flatten the Curve information graphic/cartoon. Here’s a look at the work it is built on and how that has evolved from a figure in an academic paper to one of the clearest pieces of visual communication in some time.


Online Collections and Other Resources

Useful distractions: help cultural heritage and scientific projects from home

Mia Ridge

Today I came across the term ‘terror-scrolling’, a good phrase to describe the act of glancing from one COVID-19 update to another. While you can check out galleries, libraries, archives and museums content online or explore the ebooks, magazines and other digital items available from your local library, you might also want to help online projects from scientific and cultural heritage organisations. You can call it ‘online volunteering’ or ‘crowdsourcing’, but the key point is that these projects offer a break from the everyday while contributing to a bigger goal.

Stuck at home? View cultural heritage collections online

Mia Ridge

With people self-isolating to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and educators (as well as people looking for an art or history fix) may be looking to replace in-person trips to galleries, libraries, archives and museums* with online access to images of artefacts and information about them. GLAMs have spent decades getting some of the collections digitised and online so that you can view items and information from home.

School’s Out… Or Is It?

Jenica Jessen, Alexis Rossi

The Internet Archive’s mission is Universal Access to All Knowledge, and that includes making it possible for anyone to receive a quality education, anytime, anywhere. School closures are a perfect time to take advantage of online learning—any student with an internet connection can enjoy a huge variety of books on virtually any subject, even accessing the collections of other schools and public libraries.

Controlled digital lending and Open Libraries: helping libraries and readers in times of crisis

Chris Freeland

What this means is that when libraries face closures in times of crisis, patrons are left with access to only a fraction of the materials that the library holds in its collection. That’s where the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, powered by controlled digital lending, can help. We empower libraries to turn their print holdings digital, offering digitized versions of the physical books in their collection to their patrons, overcoming distance and closures. We’ve been acquiring and digitizing millions of the most important books – school libraries, entire college libraries, books cited in Wikipedia, books assigned in courses and included in syllabi, etc. – and 1.4 million of those books are now available for anyone to check out online at for free.

Welcome to everybody’s online libraries

John Mark Ockerbloom

Libraries are stepping up to provide these things online. Many libraries have provided online information for years, through our own websites, electronic resources that we license, create, or link to, and other online services. During this crisis, as our primary forms of interaction move online, many of us will be working hard to meet increased demand for digital materials and services (even as many library workers also have to cope with increased demands and stresses on their personal lives). Services are likely to be in flux for a while. I have a few suggestions for the near term…

7 Things To Do If You Can’t Leave The House

Jenica Jessen

“Quarantine,” “isolation,” “social distancing”—there are a lot of names for the same problem. Millions of people are being forced to alter their schedules and stay indoors due to the spread of COVID 19 (coronavirus). If you’re stuck at home, you may be asking yourself exactly what you’re going to do all day… and the Internet Archive is here to help! If you’ve got an internet connection and some time to kill, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself entertained. Here are some of our favorites!

This content was selected for Digital Humanities Now by Editor-in-Chief Laura Crossley, Greta Swain based on nominations by Editors-at-Large: