Posts with the tag: online learning

The Archivist’s Nook: A Man for All Reasons – Curating St. Thomas Aquinas

 

I first encountered Aquinas during my time as a philosophy undergraduate at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, NY, and his proofs for the existence of God had a great impact on my “reconversion,” my coming back home to the Catholic Faith, after years of falling away as an atheist. Thus when I learned about the Thomistic Institute Intellectual Retreat to be held in October of 2020 and  entitled “Choosing Well: Practical Wisdom in an Unpractical Time,” I jumped at the opportunity to apply, and to steep myself more in Aquinas’ works with the guidance of professors who knew him best. It was a life-giving weekend that proved to leave a huge impact on me. I experienced the Divine Office in its entirety for the first time, and was transfixed by the beauty of the chanted Psalms. I was also energized by the presence of other young adults, some who were in graduate school, some who were young professionals, all of whom were on fire for their faith. It was an inspiring environment, and it led me to consider how I could incorporate the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas into my own work. 

Now I had the inspiration, but what was I supposed to do next? I wanted to work with the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, but I’m not a scholar. Still, there must be a way to merge what I do on a daily basis with his work. That’s when I recalled that Special Collections, where I work, has some manuscripts related to his writings! I sought the advice of my colleague Shane MacDonald, the  expert on our Rare Books Collection, and together we discovered that we did indeed have two manuscripts from the 15th century related to St. Thomas Aquinas – MS200 and MS201. MS200 is a copy of the first half of his Commentary on Book IV of the Sentences of Peter Lombard and MS201 is a copy of his Quaestiones de duodecimi quodlibet. After inspecting these two items closer and consulting our catalog entries for them, I determined that,  given their historical significance and the fact that they are manuscripts, they would be the centerpiece of the exhibit. 

But two books does not an exhibit make! In order to make a digital exhibit, I would need to incorporate many more items, which I would then pick out of if I choose to create a physical exhibit. I turned to our catalog and found over 100 items related to St. Thomas Aquinas in our collection. This would require some sorting and refining of what I wanted to focus on! I considered my prospective audience – I wanted to reach the widest audience possible on the Catholic University campus, which meant that I would want to highlight the most “popular” works of Aquinas, to create a sort of introduction to his thought, while also emphasizing the importance of Aquinas to Catholic University.

After a month of research and browsing our stacks, I narrowed my list down to fourteen items – two manuscripts, two incunables, four examples of the Summa Theologiae, four examples of 16th century folios, and two pamphlets. This variety would create a visually dynamic experience – books of various sizes, colors, and lengths – while providing an appropriate scope for beginners to experts in St. Thomas Aquinas. I plugged in all of the research, writing, and photographs I had worked on over the spring of 2021 into Omeka, a web-publishing platform for digital collections, and published the site after receiving feedback from my colleagues. 

I could have stopped at just the Omeka site, but I wanted to stretch myself and exercise some of the skills that I learned in my Library Science courses, such as website building. Using Wix, I wanted to  create an accessible space for visitors, with an attractive environment that could fully convey the mission of the exhibit, but in a way that had more creativity and flexibility than Omeka. This was one of the parts of the project that I was most proud of. You can visit the Wix site here, and the Omeka site here!

Although I was extremely happy with the results of the digital exhibits, I still felt that we could reach a wider audience, and an in-person exhibit in the main library might be just the thing to do this. I discussed my idea with the University Archivist, John Shepherd, and we began the process of planning.

“Thomism Through Time” Exhibit Cases

I decided to take a three pronged approach with this exhibit, as there would be three cases. The first case would have three items – the two manuscripts and one of the incunables. Its purpose would be to feature our oldest items, and introduce guests to rare book terms. The second case would include the different copies of the Summa Theologiae, in order to showcase the various sizes and editions of Aquinas’ most important work. Finally, the third case would have selections of current publications from the Catholic University School of Philosophy, School of Theology and Religious Studies, and from the CUA Press. The goal of this last case would be to make students aware of the fact that current work is being done on St. Thomas Aquinas, possibly even by their own professors. I wanted to tell the story of the works of St. Thomas Aquinas not only in his time, but in ours as well.

The exhibit was kicked off by a special event, held on September 24th, 2021 by the co-sponsorship of the university Special Collections and the Thomistic Institute. CUA professors Dr. Kevin White and Msgr. John Wippel, through whose efforts the two manuscripts, which are the focal point of the exhibit were acquired, were both speakers at the event, as well as Fr. Dominic Legge, the Director of the Thomistic Institute. We had a total of 52 attendees, and the entire staff of the Catholic University Special Collections was thrilled with the turn-out. Our goal is always to reach as many people as possible through our collections, and we  hope that through exhibits such as Thomism Through Time, more students will be able to experience that same burst of invigoration and inspiration that I did upon first discovering him. 

 

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

 

If you wish to see the exhibit yourself, it’s running in the Main Reading Room of Mullen Library until November 24th, 2021!

The Archivist’s Nook: Announcing a New Online Resource about the History of American Catholic Schools, 1893–1993

This groovy button was produced by the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania for Catholic Schools Week in 1974. This year, Catholic Schools Week 2021 will run from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6.

With the launch of One Hundred Years of Catholic Schools (1893–1993), I’m pleased to announce the formal completion of a project that I’ve been working on since last spring. The latest addition to the American Catholic History Classroom, One Hundred Years of Catholic Schools (1893–1993) is an online resource that explores the history of American Catholic schools at the elementary and secondary levels between the 1890s and the 1990s. (See this illustrated timeline for a rundown.) Featuring a selection of documents and objects from Catholic University’s Special Collections (chiefly the American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives), the site is meant to offer an introductory overview of the topic with an eye towards promoting primary source literacy.

Better yet, it comes just in time for Catholic Schools Week 2021! Between the 1890s and the 1990s, the advent of Catholic Schools Week in 1973 signified an important change in tune. When they were first established in the late nineteenth century, Catholic schools offered a religious minority safe haven from the Protestant-dominated and overtly prejudiced public schools. But for a multitude of reasons coalescing around Vatican II, community-based schools catering to Catholic immigrants began to fade out in the mid twentieth century. As enrollments fell and operating costs rose, Catholic Schools Week came on the scene under the guise of a “self-help” project. The idea was to rebrand Catholic schools not as a last resort for a persecuted minority, but as an enticing alternative approach to education for anyone who lacked confidence in the public school system. The operative word was “choice.” This year, the annual promotional campaign is being held from Sunday, January 31st to Saturday, February 6th. (As an aside, February 6th also happens to be my grandma Rosemary Hogg’s 95th birthday; she earned her degree in library science at Catholic University in 1981).

Now, I’d be the first to admit that studying the development of America’s second-largest school system can be dry. In general, I’ve hoped to imbue the institutional history of American Catholic schools with some personality. Perhaps the strongest example from the site is this January 21, 1935 letter to the National Catholic Welfare Conference (today’s USCCB), in which Mrs. H. C. Schmidt of Rogers City, Michigan describes the school bus situation for her six-year-old daughter:

… We have had quite a time about the Bus calling for our child. Some of the members of the School Board claim that they are not compelled to transport a child attending the Parochial Schools. However after earnestly pleading with them, they agreed to take her into town but she is compelled to walk from the Public School to the Catholic School which is a distance of about one mile. It hardly seems fair. The child is cold when she gets off the Bus and has to start on her long walk. Then again she walks to the Public School at night and she is cold when she starts on her long drive. The winters are very severe here.

Handwritten letter dated January 21, 1935 from Mrs. H. C. Schmidt of Rogers City, Michigan to the NCWC regarding her six-year-old daughter who must walk a mile to and from her parochial school to catch the bus at the public school.
Handwritten letter dated January 21, 1935 from Mrs. H. C. Schmidt of Rogers City, Michigan to the NCWC regarding her six-year-old daughter who must walk a mile to and from her parochial school to catch the bus at the public school.

The issue of bus transportation was just one facet of the debate over the constitutionality of public funding for private schools, which hinged on the Establishment Clause; in the next decade it would reach the Supreme Court in Everson v. Board of Education (1947).

On top of pathos, Mrs. Schmidt’s letter includes an interesting allusion to “K.K.K. lawmakers”—making it a rich primary source that demands to be understood in its historical context. Although the Ku Klux Klan is commonly associated with the American South, it was active throughout the North and Northwest in the 1920s and 1930s; it’s notable that the Schmidt family resides in Michigan, where in 1920 a referendum on compulsory public education received a surprising amount of support—foreshadowing the events in 1922 that led to the most famous of all Supreme Court cases having to do with Catholic schools. The Oregon School Case (the subject of another Classroom site!) grew out of a Klan-backed bill requiring most school-age children to attend public schools. Writing ten years after the Supreme Court unanimously declared the Oregon School Law unconstitutional in 1925, Mrs. Schmidt gives us a glimpse into her ongoing struggle.

Through glimpses like these, I hope future users will come to appreciate the history of American Catholic schools as I eventually did: as an underdog, coming-of-age story.

Enhance Your Skills with LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning, an upgrade to Lynda.com, is an on-demand library of high-quality instructional videos covering a wide range of skills, from specific software applications to leadership and management skills. There are more than 7,500 courses made up of more than 200,000 video modules, with more added every week. All of the courses are taught by expert instructors and come with fully searchable transcripts. Curated playlists are also available. 

Learn at your own pace.LinkedIn Learning uses the insights from its nearly 650 million members to stay up to date on the most relevant, useful skills needed by today’s workforce. That allows them to not only add the best courses to help you get ahead, it also allows customized recommendations for your particular job title and interests.

Currently available courses include:

  • Engineering courses on development topics such as PHP, C++, Java, and cloud computing
  • Business classes on project leadership and management
  • Classes on graphic design applications, including Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, Rhino, and CSS
  • Audio and music courses, such as audio recording, producing podcasts, sound engineering, and mixing techniques
  • Management support through classes on becoming a manager, improving your coaching skills, managing change and stress, time management, and communicating with confidence

You can also follow custom learning paths, which combine courses toward a specific role such as customer service representative, digital illustrator, or front-end web developer (to name just a few of the more than 150 available). 

Benefits of LinkedIn Learning

There are many good reasons to use LinkedIn Learning to help you achieve your academic, career, or personal goals:


  • Learn a quick skill–or follow the path to a new career.
    Both “micro-learning” and “macro-learning” are available, so whether you need to watch a short video to learn a new software application or follow a custom learning path with multiple courses, you can find the learning experience you need. 
  • Use LinkedIn Learning on any device.Learn at your own pace. LinkedIn Learning courses are available round the clock, and each course is on demand and self-paced. There are courses for every level of learner, from beginner to advanced. If you want to challenge yourself or have a deadline for learning a particular skill, you can a weekly goal–anywhere from half an hour to two hours–and LinkedIn Learning will track your progress. 
  • Use any device you want. You can watch training videos on your desktop, laptop, smart phone, or iPad. If you can’t get to a screen, each course is available in audio-only mode (imagine how productive your daily commute could be!).
  • Learn in your native language. In addition to English, LinkedIn Learning courses are available in Spanish, German, French, Japanese, Mandarin, and Brazilian Portuguese.
  • Learn from — and connect with — the experts. All LinkedIn Learning courses are taught by experts–including the CEO of Warby Parker, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, and distinguished fellows at Harvard Law School. And you won’t just learn from these luminaries–you can also connect via LinkedIn to get the benefit of their own vast networks. 
  • Apply your learning hands on. Learning by doing is the best way to retain your new skills. Most courses offer templates, exercise files, and other documents to help you apply what you’ve learned. 
  • Highlight your status as a lifelong learner. When you take courses via LinkedIn Learning, you can add them to your LinkedIn profile to show that you’re self-motivated, curious, and eager to continue learning to make the most of your career. 

Get Started TodayApply your learning hands on

It’s easy. Click here. You will be prompted to sign in with your Cardinal Login (username/password). Watching an introductory video can be helpful and informative. You can browse for courses or videos in LinkedIn Learning.  All courses are also listed in SearchBox, the University Libraries’ online catalog.

Note: You do not need to create a LinkedIn account to use LinkedIn Learning.   

If you have any questions about LinkedIn Learning or need help with your account, please contact lib-research@cua.edu.

 

Digital Scholarship @ CUA: Summertime Learning

https://goo.gl/eQ0mV1
https://goo.gl/eQ0mV1

Where do you find your learning opportunities this summer? Online learning in the form of webinars, university courses, educational platforms or subscription services provide a myriad of ways to learn new skills and keep up with advances in software and digital tools.

Professional organizations  and universities

The State of E-Learning in Higher Education: An Eye Toward Growth and Increased Access

 Webinars in Higher Education

Coursera Courses

lynda.com 

Why not take advantage of the online learning video library at lynda.com during the summer break? Hit the ground running in the fall with courses on graphic design, time management, presentation skills, and so much more. Visit our lynda.com page to get started! Check out their Playlist Center, or view all subjects.