Digital tools (free course)

Abstract

Historians are increasingly required to understand and make use of complex digital tools in order analyse and present their research in new and exciting ways. These modules and case studies are intended as introductions to various common tools and techniques. Historians may wish to use these but be uncertain of what they are, what they can do, and why they are useful. Topics covered include visualisation, linked data, and cloud computing, with more extensive training provided for semantic markup and text mining. 

Course details

There are various digital tools available to historians to enable them to better analyse, present and carry out research in their fields of interest. These training modules and case studies are intended as introductions to some of these tools, giving historians an idea and starting point for what the tool is for, what it can do for them, and how they might start going about making use of it. 

Digital research areas covered are:

  • Semantic Markup (training module; case studies; tool audit)
  • Text Mining (training module; case study; tool audit)
  • Visualisation tools (case study; tool audit)
  • Linked data (case study; tool audit)
  • Cloud computing (tool audit)

There are three primary components.  First, a tools audit held on History Online (link: http://www.history.ac.uk/history-online/tools) which lists software which can be used for the five areas mentioned above.  Second, a series of case studies looking in more detail at how historians have already made use of the tool.  Third, two training modules which introduce historians to semantic markup and text mining, assuming no prior knowledge. These are described in more detail below:

Semantic markup: an introduction for historians: This module guides you in easy steps through the process of why you might want to mark up a text, how to do it, and what you need to consider throughout the process. The module looks primarily at what XML is and how to use it and gives you some ideas of how to use it for historical research using texts.

Text Mining: an introduction for historians: If you have ever wanted to search a broad range of texts or a large text and analyse it in complex ways then text mining tools might well be what you need.  This module begins with a simple guide to what text mining is, and how it can be used in its most basic forms for historical research.  From there the module gets more in-depth, with introductory training in using natural language processing, named entry recognition, and topic modelling.

Both modules are introductions to their respective topics, but will give you enough knowledge to move forward with your own research materials in new and exciting ways.