Data and The Digital World Symposium (2017)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 from 1 - 4:30 p.m.

Eberhard Conference Center, Pew Grand Rapids Campus 

  • Welcome Remarks: 1 - 1:15 p.m.
  • Workshops: 1:15 - 3:15 p.m. [register for one of the four sessions below]
  • Pop-Up Talks & Reception: 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. 


The Data and the Digital World Symposium brings together faculty from across the university interested in data and digital approaches to teaching and scholarship. Whether you are a novice or an experienced practitioner, we invite you to hone your skills, explore a range of applications and approaches, learn from and with colleagues, and explore potential collaborations. 



text to data to insight 

Whitt Kilburn, Political Science and Data Inquiry Lab, Matt Schultz, University Libraries

We provide an overview of text mining tools and strategies, with hands-on exercises from the digital humanities and social sciences. Text mining is a growing area of artificial intelligence offering tools for researchers to efficiently scan large bodies of text for insight into relationships between and within documents. The workshop will focus on introductory theory and application of natural language processing, sentiment analysis, and document clustering techniques; no prior experience is required. More in-depth workshops on these subjects are available for the fall semester from the Data Inquiry Lab. The session is BYOD — bring your own device. Attendees should bring at least a networked tablet; to participate in all hands-on exercises, bring a laptop with open source software installed following the instructions at Data Inquiry Lab.  

EC 514

foregrounding data literacy in the classroom

Tamara Shreiner, History 

The prevalence of data visualizations in the political and economic spheres requires an increasingly data literate population.  Data are used to persuade people how to vote, support policies, adopt arguments or agendas, and buy products. Furthermore, data literacy counts among the specialized literacy skills students need to make meaning within the academic disciplines. Therefore, it is important for educators across disciplines to consider the role that data visualizations play in communicating information in their field, and to support students' data literacy as they engage with written and visual media.     

In this workshop, we will briefly consider research on data literacy before examining data visualizations in textbooks and on websites that can serve as readily available resources for teaching data literacy.  In doing so we will discuss challenges students may face, and brainstorm ways that we can support students as they attempt to make meaning of the rich array of data visualizations that they might encounter inside and outside of our classrooms.  Please bring your own device so that we can look at examples of data visualizations on websites together. If you use a course textbook that has graphs, charts, maps, or timelines, please bring that as well.  If you do not have a textbook to bring, I will provide some examples.   

EC 414 

digital pedagogy and social media

Kim McKee, Liberal Studies and Kutsche Office of Local History

This workshop explores how scholars use social media tools in instruction, paying careful attention to how these platforms facilitate scholars’ engagement with students and student-to-student interaction. Participants learn personal and pedagogical applications of social media and digital pedagogy. We will explore how technology facilitates students engagement with course content and the global classroom, engaging each platform and discussing the various limitations and benefits of the platform. 

This is a hands-on and collaborative workshop. We will be using tools and building possible assignments. We will re-examine how we teach and integrate new technologies. We will reflect on how we teach social media and online engagement in classes, as well as the pedagogical opportunities offered by these digital humanities platforms. We will examine social media’s role in shaping individuals and communities. Participants evaluate how social media platforms express political, social, and cultural power. Additionally, participants analyze how social media expands and limits conversations on issues concerning race, gender, sexuality, and diaspora.

EC 421

an introduction to 3D modeling & animation

Julie Goldstein, Visual and Media Arts 

Three dimensional visualization is a technique for creating or re-creating an object or action, which is often the precursor to a virtual experience.  This new frontier is becoming increasingly utilized in various disciplines outside of it's most common application, entertainment.  Illustrating a concept in three dimensions allows an idea to be explored from multiple angles and eventually integrated into a self directed experience by the user.  This workshop will be an introduction to the three dimensional interface and it's toolsets, utilizing Autodesk Maya, an industry standard software package, which is available at no cost to educators and students.  In order to actively participate in this workshop, please visit to create an account and then download and install the software program, Maya to your laptop. Specifications and additional information can be found at the Autodesk Education website.  Please bring your laptop and a 'three button' mouse for navigation, as a laptop interface is not sufficient for full interaction.  Additional resources will be disseminated at the end of the workshop.

EC 513