Employ Digital Methods in a Supported Environment with the Digital Toolkit (DTK)

digital toolkit logo, featuring a visualization done with Cytoscape, one of the tools available in the digital toolkit from FAS Academic Technology and the Department of History

Every class session of the semester is valuable. Whether you're teaching a Digital Methods course or integrating a technological approach into an assignment, you probably can't afford to spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring your students have their environments set up properly.

That's why Academic Technology for FAS, in collaboration with the Department of History, has developed the Digital Toolkit (DTK). The DTK is a virtual computer which is pre-loaded with some of the most commonly-used applications for data visualization and analysis. All your students need to do is log in, and they'll be ready to start working on research, assignments, and projects!

The DTK currently includes:

  • Anaconda Python – Anaconda is a batteries-included Python distribution that provides everything that you need to get up and running with a Python project quickly and easily, particularly in data science work. In addition to the basic Python modules included in Anaconda, the Digital Toolkit includes additional modules such as Beautiful Soup for web scraping and Tethne for bibliographic network analysis.

  • Cytoscape – Cytoscape is an open source software platform for visualizing molecular interaction networks and biological pathways and integrating these networks with annotations, gene expression profiles and other state data. Although Cytoscape was originally designed for biological research, now it is a general platform for complex network analysis and visualization.

  • Gephi – Dedicated to network visualization and analysis, Gephi can help users reveal patterns and trends, highlight outliers, and tell stories with data. Gephi includes 3D rendering to facilitate exploration.

  • Mallet – A Java-based command line package for natural language processing, document classification, clustering, topic modeling, information extraction, and other machine learning applications to text.

  • QGIS Desktop – QGIS is an open source GIS program, comparable to ArcGIS. On the Digital Toolkit, you can try out the software and perform some basic geospatial analysis.

  • Zotero – A powerful, easy-to-use research tool that helps you gather, organize, and analyze sources and then share the results of your research. The DTK also includes Paper Machines, a Zotero plugin that makes cutting-edge topic-modeling analysis in Computer Science accessible to humanities researchers without requiring extensive computational resources or technical knowledge.

For more information on the Digital Toolkit, or to request access for yourself or your class, please contact Academic Technology for FAS at atg@fas.harvard.edu.