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Digital Repositories: A Solution for Underrepresentation, Learning Challenges

Copper wolves at Wolf Plaza near the Free Expression tunnel. Photo by Becky Kirkland.
The copper wolves at Wolf Plaza near the Free Expression tunnel. Photo by Becky Kirkland.

When faculty apply for a DELTA grant, they typically have an idea of which solution will help their course’s instructional challenges. For many, a digital repository is the answer that will take their course to the next level for face-to-face, hybrid and online students.

Digital repositories offer a way to curate course resources. They are particularly helpful as a place to store visual media, publish student work, or house other content that could be of use for various instructional challenges (Hai-Jew, 2010).  


Associate Professor of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies Mary Wyer’s decades of experience with underrepresented groups in science and engineering have highlighted the importance of science identity and belonging to the recruitment and retention of diverse scientists. She applied for a DELTA grant to create an interactive repository that includes profiles of and information about minority scientists. With the help of Lead Instructional Designer Rebecca Sanchez, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Educational Media Donnie Wrights and Multimedia Designer Jennafer Pettit (no longer employed at DELTA), the team created Psychologist Spotlights, a hub for the contributions of diverse psychologists and research on diversity-relevant topics.

The directory showcases underrepresented populations in the field of psychology.

This interactive site encourages psychologists the world over to add their contributions to the field. The use of Psychologist Spotlights and its sister-tool (Scientist Spotlights) has been found to decrease students’ stereotyping of psychologists both qualitatively and quantitatively (Schinske, Perkins, Snyder, & Wyer, 2016). 

Another example of a digital repository is from a DELTA grant for ENT 163: Ornamental and Turf Insects. Extension Associate Terri Billeisen needed a visual image database that allowed students to examine high resolution photos and 3D interactive models of insects. After working with Lead Multimedia Designer Rich Gurnsey, Assistant Director, Course Quality Bethanne Winzeler and Multimedia Specialist Stephen Waddell, the team realized they could use a digital magnification tool that was created by DELTA called the Virtual Viewer, as part of a lab experience that helped many students who had not taken online classes before. 

Mole Cricket by NCState_DELTA on Sketchfab
Stephen Waddell created a 3D model of a mole cricket, among other insects, in Sketchfab using approximately 3200 images.


Having the ability to view the insects virtually using this cutting-edge technology led to numerous benefits for students, including increased engagement, improved participation and enhanced understanding of course material reflected on quizzes and tests.

Another DELTA grant project that involves content curation is GD 203: History of Graphic Design. Associate Professor of Graphic Design Deborah Littlejohn, Ph.D., wanted to create a more interactive, collaborative student learning experience. The team used WordPress to develop a Pinterest-like website called an Augmented Gallery Walk. Students use this site to create posts and collaborate with peers in a fun, highly visual way. The site also includes a searchable tag library. 

The homepage of the Augmented Gallery Walk

For faculty who are interested in a digital repository for their course, they may consider reviewing WolfWare WordPress resources and attending the upcoming “Creating Class Websites with WolfWare WordPress” workshop.

For more, see:

Hai-Jew, S. (2010). An instructional design approach to updating an online course curriculum. Educause Review

Metamorphosis Turns Into An Infestation

Schinske, J. N., Perkins, H., Snyder, A., & Wyer, M. (2016). Scientist spotlight homework assignments shift students’ stereotypes of scientists and enhance science identity in a diverse introductory science class. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 15(3).