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The University of Nottingham Drives 21st-Century Data Literacy with Gale Digital Scholar Lab

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Gale, part of Cengage Group, is helping the University of Nottingham expand its digital research methods for teaching and learning digital humanities (DH). The university is using Gale Digital Scholar Lab (the Lab) within its Digital Transformation Hub (DTH) to support students in the widespread digital shift in humanities. The Lab makes digital research methods available to all of the university’s students and researchers. This enables professors and researchers to look at large amounts of data without learning a new set of tools—and students to develop transferable 21st-century skills that they can use beyond college and in the workplace.  

As one of the U.K.’s leading research-intensive universities, the University of Nottingham has more than 40,000 students and 7,000 faculty members across four campuses. For the past six years, the university has invested in its digital research capacity as it seeks to make a global impact. The Lab aligns to this initiative because it scales digital research and broadens the pool of people who are able to do this work without needing coding skills since the data is processed for researchers.

The move to digital has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lab has enabled students to upskill themselves significantly even while working remotely. This fits in with the university’s strong emphasis on digital skill development.

“When using a tool like Gale Digital Scholar Lab, students are able to interrogate texts in fresh and important ways, either by themselves or as part of a larger group,” explained Lynda Pratt, Professor of Modern Literature and Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Nottingham. “Through this process they develop new skills around communication, sharing, collaboration and interrogation, which will also help them in their future careers. The Lab has really transformed how students work and how they learn.”

The Lab is offered through the University of Nottingham’s DTH which provides staff and students resources, expertise and support in using digital methods for learning, teaching and research. The DTH acts as a test lab for faculty to try out new technologies and aims to support academics and students as they transform how they work using new tools, creating new kinds of data and exploring new methods and technologies to engage with the work of the arts and humanities. In the next five years, the university has ambitious goals for DH research and teaching:

“Digital isn’t a novelty; it’s how we do our research and teaching. I’d like to see us doing a large amount of digital research on a regular basis,” said Dr. Erin Snyder, Director of the Digital Transformation Hub. “We’re dealing with more and more data. If you want to make big arguments, you have to deal with many sources, which becomes very difficult at the scales for which we can work. We’re at the forefront of making use of this technology – we’re still asking arts and humanities questions; we just have all these new ways of asking them.”

The Lab, a cloud-based research environment, integrates an unmatched depth and breadth of digital primary source material with some of today’s most popular digital humanities analysis and visualization tools. It provides a new lens to explore history and empowers researchers to deepen their understanding of the world and its representation in the written word. Gale recently announced the expansion of the Lab with new and improved features that provide digital humanities researchers with a better user experience.

Read more about the University of Nottingham’s success with Gale Digital Scholar Lab

To learn more about Gale Digital Scholar Lab, visit its webpage

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