The Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities, the National Coordinating Institute for DARIAH in Belgium, led an educational innovation project to structurally embed digital literacy skills at the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy at Ghent University. This involved developing and fostering the uptake of a faculty-wide collaborative framework for digital competencies based on the Scholarly Domain Model, inspired by the Scholarly Primitives concept and making use of the Taxonomy of Digital Research Activities, TaDiRAH.
Digital literacy skills are essential for all humanities students, researchers and teaching staff, and not only those that consider themselves as ‘digital humanists’. We wanted to structurally encourage the uptake of digital humanities methods and tools across the teaching and research activities at the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy at Ghent University and beyond. This approach also helped us to raise the visibility of tools and services developed in the context of DARIAH in Belgium.
The digital literacy competency framework is intended for all teaching staff, students and researchers at Ghent University’s Faculty of Arts and Philosophy. The aim of the framework is to develop a coherent digital learning path for both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at the Faculty and inspire uptake from other universities within the DARIAH network.
The aim of the digital literacy skills programme at Ghent University’s Faculty of Arts and Philosophy is to create and foster the use of a shared faculty-wide framework of digital competences. Three thematic clusters of blended-learning modules on Information Management, Digital Text Analysis and Spatial Humanities were developed. These discipline-independent modules were made accessible by Ghent University’s online learning platform and were intended to cater for different levels of expertise. The modules have been designed to be used for independent study, or integrated into existing courses and can be customised or extended by the lecturers, according to their expertise or needs.
The framework has identified 15 transdisciplinary competences in total, divided into basic and advanced competences. Basic competences are identified as being able to apply digital methods, tools and strategies during the research process. While advanced competences are the ability to independently compare, select, use responsibility, and critically evaluate appropriate digital methods, tools and strategies.
Five phases have been identified across the framework, each with a number of specific competences: 1) Explore: exploring networks of research objects (literature and/or sources) to build the research corpus with, including the specific competencies of discovery and source criticism. 2) Aggregate; collecting, organising, and rearranging the research objects (literature and/or sources) that make up the research corpus with capture, collect and modelling as specific competences; 3) Augment: editing, enriching, and supplementing the research objects (literature and/or sources) that make up the research corpus with specific competences in data clean-up and enrich; 4) Interpretative Modelling: the interpretation process during which a researcher conceptualises, restructures and contextualises the elements of the research corpus which develops the competences of automate, analyse and visualise and 5) Externalise: sharing research data, infrastructure, or results with other researchers or with a wider audience including the specific competences: store, spread and collaborate. There is also a meta phase, which encourages reflection on the role of Digital Humanities research within the socio-cultural context it is conducted.
Preparations for the development of the competency framework started in the academic year 2019-2020. The launch of Ghent University’s new online learning platform in the academic year 2020-2021 was an opportunity to further boost the engagement with the platform. Additionally, practical tips on how to integrate digital literacy into the curriculum in the form of webinars (in Dutch) and presentations were provided to further engage the community.
This work was complemented by a second educational innovation project to develop a modular web publication platform for virtual exhibitions on Omeka S. A blended learning module combining workshops, a video tutorial, best practices and a SWOT-analysis was integrated into the Digital Humanities learning path within Information Management thematic cluster.
Now in its third academic year, so far 13 members of staff (researchers, teaching staff and course developers) across 8 departments (GhentCDH; Faculty Library of Arts and Philosophy; History; Literary Studies; Language and Translation Technology (LT³); Linguistics; Archaeology and the Department of Research) have contributed to the Digital Humanities: Learning Pathways programme. This has led to the development of three thematic clusters: Information Management (57 topics); Digital Text Analysis (82 topics) and Spatial Humanities (57 topics) covering in total 196 topics.
“Digital Humanities: Learning Pathways offers a perfect platform for exchanging and spreading digital knowledge and skills. Based on the ideal of cooperation, the Ghent University’s Faculty of Arts and Philosophy invites all of its colleagues including students, teaching staff, researchers and course developers employees to make a contribution. The power of the platform is that contributions are open to all!”
Davy Verbeke, Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities, Ghent University
A particularly successful collaboration has been with the Master’s programme in Art History under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Marjan Sterckx, leading to the development of a digital exhibition using Omeka S, to complement a physical exhibition on 'CRIME SCENES. Interwar interiors through the lens of forensic photography'.
“The Omeka S platform provided a user-friendly platform for creating an online collection of digitised photographs of crime scenes from Belgian judicial files from the 1920s-1930s. With the support of the GhentCDH, we were able to create our Crime Scenes online exhibition with Omeka S whilst developing a range of digital competencies along the way.”
Prof. dr. Marjan Sterckx, Department of Theatre and Performing Arts, Ghent University
 Verbeke, D. (2020) Leerlijn digitale geletterdheid: 15 transdisciplinaire digitale competenties / Digital Literacy Learning Pathway: 15 transdisciplinary digital competences.
 Verbeke, D. (2021) 'Digitale Geletterdheid in het curriculum integreren? Van theorie naar praktijk / ‘Integrating Digital Literacy in the Curriculum? From theory to practice’. Webinar.
 Verbeke, D. (2021) ‘Een showcase van de faculteitsbrede Ufora-cursus Digital Humanities’ / A showcase of the Faculty-wide Ufora course. Library Lunches with a Taste of DH.
 Verbeke, D. (2021) So you want to teach with Omeka S ? SWOT-analyse voor lesgevers (Dutch) / SWOT Analysis for Teaching Staff using Omeka S.
 Foket, L., et al. (2022). Using IIIF to teach Digital Humanities: practice-oriented approach to digital literacy skills. IIIF Conference 2022.
 GhentCDH (2022). Digital Literary Skills poster at the Faculty Research Day 2022
 Sterckx, M. (2021) Professor Sterckx over interbelluminterieurs: "We zijn ongenode gasten. Wat je ziet is het interieur zoals het was" / Professor Sterckx talking about interbellum interiors: "We are uninvited guests. What you see is the interior as it was”. Radio Programme (Dutch).
 'CRIME SCENES. Interwar interiors through the lens of forensic photography' An Online Exhibition powered by Omeka S.
 Sterckx, M. (2022). The interior as a witness : interwar interiors in Flanders captured by forensic files. JOURNAL OF INTERIOR DESIGN, 47(4), 11–29.