UoN’s Digital Transformations Hub

The Digital Transformations Hub is located in the University of Nottingham's Humanities Building.
Miranda Harrington

Melania Burlacu interviews members of the Digital Transformations Hub to outline their work.

Matt Davies is the manager of the Digital Transformations Hub (DTH), who organises and supervises the volunteers and their digital projects.

Can you tell Impact readers a little about the Digital Transformations Hub?

MD: The DTH is located in the Humanities Building and is open to all Faculty of Arts students who wish to use digital equipment and software to enhance their coursework, research, project work, societies or just to self-teach digital skills. 

What sort of equipment do you have in the DTH?

MD: We have networked PCs with scanners and Adobe creative cloud, which includes Photoshop, InDesign, Premier Pro video editing software and Acrobat. We also have a book scanner, copy-stand and camera and equipment and software for producing and viewing VR and 3D.

So you have equipment to loan too?

MD: Yes, we loan cameras, video and digital audio recording equipment, tablets and more – check out our website for details here.

What sort of things do Arts students use the equipment for?

MD: Anything from scanning a chapter from a book or cropping an image for an essay, to creating pamphlets, posters, publications, videos and virtual worlds! For instance, the Musical Theatre Soc recently used our equipment to film and edit videos of their stage show. We also have students photographing or 3D scanning artefacts, and even artists creating VR experiences for installations!

Many students use volunteering with the DTH as an opportunity to learn digital skills to boost their CV

Do students need expertise to use the equipment and software?

MD: Not necessarily. They may have to be prepared to self-teach though! Besides myself, there is a team of student volunteers on-hand to help where we can and what we don’t know we will help students find online. Many students use volunteering with the DTH as an opportunity to learn digital skills to boost their CV.

You mentioned a student volunteer team, can you tell us more?

MD: 20 – 30 places are available to FoA students each year. They learn digital skills and gain work experience by working shifts in the DTH itself, but also as teams on digital marketing and digitisation projects.

Let’s ask some of this year’s volunteers about the projects they have been working on in 2020/21.

Miranda Harrington is an English Literature student who is a member of the Digital Marketing team.

What does the marketing team get up to in the average week?

MH: Day to day we keep DTH’s social media platforms up to date and look for inspiration for new content. Once a week we meet virtually to share our analytics and to brainstorm new content and ways to improve our platforms for the following week. Our content includes blogs from the DTH, guides explaining how to use different software, events within the university and other exciting digital arts exhibitions and resources.

We use Canva to produce dynamic infographics to create a cohesive brand image. We also occasionally carry out research to improve our content.

How might this help you in your future careers?

MH: As well as digital marketing skills, we have had the opportunity to develop a wide range of transferable skills. These include refining our organization and teamwork skills, as well as gaining professional experience. These are all valuable skills that not only qualify you for a marketing position but will help prepare you for any career. Volunteering for the DTH has been one of the most worthwhile things I have done during my time at university. Watching our platforms grow has been so rewarding and it has definitely enhanced my employability.

The other two projects this year are DTH collaborations with the University Museum. Kavi Mistry is a Classics and Archaeology student who is working on the Video Project.

Can you tell us a little about the video project please?

KM: I’m one of a team working on a project, led by the University’s video production support officer Joe Bell, to create educational and marketing content for the Museum. I’m working on a video about the deserted medieval village of Keighton. The short film will be based on an interview with Nottingham alumni Dr Diane Wren, a specialist in medieval archaeology and will give a chronological history of Keighton focussing on the archaeological material. This will be supplemented by 3D scans of a pot and tile produced by the Photogrammetry Project team. The aim of this project is to improve the awareness, understanding, and appreciation of Nottingham’s local history and archaeology. The collective goal of the Archaeology Video Project team is to foster the Museum’s digital engagement with the community.

What skills and experience have you gained from working on the project?

KM: I have developed a range of professional and digital skills. Juggling academic work with volunteering has been a challenge, which has taught me how to organise myself and communicate when difficulties arise.

I have so far enjoyed my experience working on the project

Lockdown restrictions meant the project team had to abandon in person filming and instead arrange interviews with academics. Whilst this was initially frustrating, the experience has nurtured my ability to adapt, make the most of online resources, and stay on track to deliver a high-quality output. Hosting an interview with an expert was an exciting opportunity to talk about a captivating subject. I have also learnt about creating digital media using DaVinci Resolve and how to construct a solid video production plan.

I have so far enjoyed my experience working on the project and look forward to completing it.

Sam Jenkins is a Classics and Archaeology student working on the Photogrammetry team led by DTH manager Matt Davies.

What has working on the Photogrammetry Project involved?

SJ: Our project was to create 3D models of artefacts from the Museum using a process called photogrammetry. This involves taking dozens of overlapping photographs of an object and then processing these through software which uses the minute differences in the photographs to generate a 3D form and then cover it with a high-resolution photographic texture. Many of the resultant 3D models will be accessible online to UoN students as supplements to the real artefacts that we are so lucky to have access to in the Museum.

What sort of skills have you learnt from the project?

SJ: Beyond the technical skills we learnt (Meshroom, Blender) there were a number of other practical skills needed to make the project a success. Due to the Covid restrictions, all communication was online. I had to learn how to share my progress using screen sharing and also how to quickly send large files as these models are way beyond what can be sent in emails. Also, as photogrammetry can be very time consuming, we had to learn to manage our time effectively. I would often set the program running and then get on with other work. Each stage acted as a good reminder to break up my work day!

For more information on the volunteering scheme, check out the Digital Dialogues blog and webpages:

Miranda Harrington

Images courtesy of the University of Nottingham’s Digital Transformation Hub. No changes were made to these images.

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