A geospatial class at the Digital Humanities at Berkeley Summer Institute (DHBSI) served as a high-visibility testing ground for the ÆoD virtual workstations provided by Berkeley Research Computing (BRC). The widely-used ArcGIS software for geospatial analysis only runs on Windows, leaving students with Macs in a difficult position. Last year, loaner laptops from the library were able to address this gap during the workshop. This year, Research IT was able to provide students with access to ArcGIS during and beyond the week of the workshop, via their own laptop. Out of seven students in the course, four chose to connect to an ÆoD desktop with ArcGIS installed, using a Citrix client. Unlike last year’s loaner laptops, the ÆoD desktop will continue to be available to students through Fall semester, enabling them to continue to work on their research projects. In a survey conducted after DHBSI, 3 of the 4 surveyed students who had used the desktop indicated they were very likely to recommend it to a colleague. Those respondents also stated that they wanted to continue to use the ÆoD desktop after the workshop for their regular research or teaching.
In addition to providing ÆoD desktops for the geospatial workshop, Research IT staff also supported DHBSI through instruction. Quinn Dombrowski, Digital Humanities Coordinator in Research IT, taught the “Database Development with Drupal” workshop, based on her book Drupal for Humanists, which will be published this fall. Fifteen attendees, including faculty, librarians, and graduate students, learned how to develop a highly customized research environment for their project by installing and configuring core code and modules for an open-source content management system.
DHBSI is an annual event that offers hands-on training, guest lectures, and discussion opportunities, primarily for scholars in the humanities and social sciences. DHBSI was held for the second time in 2016, and grew from 4 courses and around 60 attendees to 6 courses and over 100 attendees.
Photo courtesy of Berkeley Center for New Media.