Featured project: Digital transformation of teaching through objects
A digital platform on which communities of academics can collaborate in assembling multimedia materials and weaving them together into interlinked sets of world-class, interactive, highly visual teaching materials.
Cabinet is an award-winning digital platform on which communities of scholars can collaborate in assembling multimedia materials and weaving them together into interlinked sets of world-class, interactive teaching and learning materials, including high-resolution zoomable, interactive and annotatable 2D and 3D images, embedded videos, commentary, and discussions.
Instantly accessible for use in and outside the lecture hall, classroom or tutorial, these open-access materials can help attract non-traditional students, narrow the gap between teaching and research, provide new means of demonstrating institutional commitment to excellence in teaching, and engage the ‘incurably curious’ in heritage organisations outside formal education altogether.
Cabinet provides a platform on which whole communities of scholars can collaborate in assembling, interlinking, and explicating gradually evolving bodies of material on any subject.
Mosaic, not monolith. Composed out of many small pieces, courses on Cabinet need not be planned to the last detail at the outset, or built in one go by a compact team under a single presiding genius. Instead, they rely on multiple contributions from many different individuals and reused for many different purposes.
Evolving. Disciplines evolve constantly, driven forward by new discoveries and fresh debates. This constant evolution requires flexible, granulated, infinitely editable, interlinked materials arranged in multiple pathways.
Multi-layered. The multiple pathways through Cabinet can potentially operate at many different levels. Introductory pathways visit carefully selected highlights; but these highlights are connected to more advanced materials, luring students into deeper engagement with those subjects which interest them most.
Interactive. Passive, spoon-fed students do not become active learners. Cabinet’s multiple pathways engage students at every turn, with zoomable images, interactive 3D visualisations, embedded videos, commentaries, annotations, discussion platforms, and above all links for more advanced materials instantly accessible to students wanting to know more.
Multidisciplinary. Cabinet now features content from more than a dozen disciplines harvested from across Oxford’s university, departmental, and college collections as wellas from heritage institutions from around the world.
Mobile-ready. Cabinet has also developed a mobile web app which renders heritage objects in augmented reality to provide a virtual handling experience to museum visitors.
Cabinet was developed in 2015-16 with seed funding from Oxford’s IT Innovation Fund. In June 2017, Cabinet was the winner of an OxTALENT Award. In July 2018, Cabinet was rolled out as a core University-supported platform for teaching and learning with images and objects, with support from GLAM Digital Strategy and in partnership with the Centre for Teaching and Learning. Subsequent support from the Van Houten Fund helped produce online exhibitions with the Pitt-Rivers Museum: Travels in Finland and Bosnia-Herzegovina and Star House Pole. In the aftermath of the lockdown, a further grant from AWS is currently funding the development of an exemplary portfolio of material, recommendations for best practice, reconsideration of the digital platform to serve the needs of a broader range of users, and proposals for exponential growth in the further development of this approach.