Digital tools for course-based digital projects

Online platforms that facilitate collaborative and project-based teaching provide students with opportunities to work with course content in novel, creative, and ‘hands-on’ ways. Remediation assignments in which students use course materials in different contexts and through different media have the potential to inspire new understandings of those materials. Visualizing course materials in terms of time or geography can also provide an explicit, shared mental model of a knowledge domain. The act of creating an online map, visualization, or collaborative writing project within the context of a course can serve to provide motivation to students and result in an online artifact that outlives to the semester. The following list highlights a few online tools that are simple to understand, require minimal training resulting in less class time devoted to teaching the tool, and can be used to facilitate ‘one-off’ digital assignments.

Maps and geospatial tools

Google MyMaps

Similar to the familiar Google Maps, Google MyMaps allows you to add markers, lines, and regions to a map and to annotate a map with text, images, and video. Maps created in Google MyMaps can be shared, collaborated upon, and exported to other mapping applications such as Google Earth, qGIS, and ArcGIS.


uMap is an open source platform using maps from OpenStreetMap allowing you to add annotated markers, lines, and regions, data layers to custom maps, and to embed those maps on other websites. uMap can be found at:

ArcGIS Online

Made available through Princeton’s Maps and Geospatial Information Center, ArcGIS Online allows you to create interactive maps without having to install software and is available to anyone with a Princeton netid. Maps can be shared within a private group or made public on the web. ArcGIS Online contains wide array of basemaps and datasets with which to design and populate your map. Additionally, ArcGIS Online provides templates for the development of digital narratives in which writing can be illustrated with images, audio, video, and interactive maps. More information can be found at:
To set up Princeton sponsored accounts, contact the Maps and Geospatial Information Center


A plugin for WordPress included on the McGrawCommons course website platform, WPGeo adds Google Maps to blog posts, allowing you to associate geographic locations with blog posts by dragging and dropping a marker on a map. A master map of all the locations can then be generated and visitors to the site can explore students writings based on location.


Palladio is a toolset for analyzing datasets, including the visualizing of locations and associated information on a map. In addition to maps, Palladio also includes timeline, gallery, and network graph visualizations. Palladio is available online at:


One of several extraordinarily valuable tools developed by the Knight Lab at Northwestern University, StoryMapJS allows students to associate short sequential multimedia writings with locations on a map. StoryMapsJS then generates an attractive self-contained map interface for the display of those writings.



Data visualization


RAWGraphs is quick and easy-to-use online application for generating data visualizations from your data. Paste in or upload a data file and drag and drop options for your charts.  RAWGraphs can generate a wide variety of attractive charts including Scatter Plots, Circular Dendrograms, Bar charts, Pie charts, and Streamgraphs.


Text and Media Analysis

Juxta Commons

JuxtaCommons is an online platform, featuring the Juxta web service, that allows you to collate and visualize differences in multiple witnesses of a single text. Users of the platform can upload files, select witnesses to compare, and generate visualizations of collations.



IMJ (Image Macroanalysis in Javascript) is a tool for collating large sets of images, such as sequential still images from video or chronologically sequenced images of paintings, and generating visualizations. The tool can create three types of visualizations: a montage of all images in the corpus in sequence, a barcode-style visualizations, and a plot visualization that sorts images by hue and saturation.

IMJ is available at

Voyant Tools

Voyant is an online text analysis environment providing many tools for the ‘distant’ reading of text. The platform includes word counts, word frequencies, keyword-in-context concordances, and information about word trends. A wide range of visualizations of this information is also available in the form of word clouds, line graphs, bubble charts and many, many more.



Juxtapose is an online tool that helps to tell stories of changes over time by superimposing one image over another and providing the ability to easily hide or display either image using a ‘swipe’ tool. The tool and examples of the tool in action can be found at


Data collection and curation

Google Sheets and Google Forms

Google sheets is an intuitive and easy to use online spreadsheet useful for the collaborative collection and collation of information. Google Forms enables the creation of online forms for surveys, polls, and data input. Information collected with Google Forms is automatically added to a Google Sheets spreadsheet for further analysis.


Qualtrics is an advanced online survey tool providing input elements not available with simpler tools such as Google forms. Qualtrics also provides functions for generating reports and visualizing data.

Transcription and Annotation


TranscriptionSpace is a theme available in the McGraw Center Commons specifically suited to simple collaborative annotation tasks. Images of content to be transcribed can be displayed in a zoomable window alongside a plain text editor for entering transcriptions. Contact the McGraw Center at to set up this theme in a McGraw Commons website.



Developed by the ScholarsLab at the University of Virginia, Prism is an online tool for the collaborative tagging of text.  The tool allows students to highlight portions of the text according to a predefined list of thematic labels and to see visualizations of this work in the form of pie charts and word clouds. Prism is available at


Ten Thousand Rooms

The Ten Thousand Rooms project is a collaborative workspace for textual studies developed at Yale University supporting the annotation and viewing of manuscript images. Built upon the Mirador Viewer and IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework), Ten Thousand Rooms allows users to upload images of print, manuscripts, or inscriptions and add and search transcriptions, translations, and annotations upon those images.



Recogito is an online platform for collaborative document annotation, maintained by Pelagios Commons. Recogito assists in the extraction of  named entities such as people, places, and events from text and images. The platform automatically scans text for instances of such entities and allow sone to highlight and annotate regions of an image.




TimelineJS, a product of the Knight Lab at Northwestern University, takes information from a Google Spreadsheet and lays it out on a visually-rich sliding timeline that can include text, images, video, maps, and links. The emphasis on TimelineJS is on creating self-contained narratives that can be explored in a timeline fashion.Writing and ePublishing


Omeka on McGrawCommons

Omeka is a free, open source management system for online digital collections. Omeka can be used to create archives of images, videos, and audio files, and includes the Dublin Core metadata schema for cataloging. Omeka can also be extended with a variety of additional plugins.


Writing and hypertext

WordPress on McGrawCommons

The McGraw Commons is an online publishing platform specifically for teaching and learning at Princeton University. WordPress, a website creation tool included in McGraw Commons, is an intuitive platform supporting  collaborative writing, media collection, discussion, and other activities related to coursework at Princeton. More information can be found at


Twine is an open-source tool for creating interactive, nonlinear, hypertextual stories. Add passages to your story, create links to other passages, and publish your story online, without any programming.

Posted by January 9, 2018