Getting Started

To get started in this course, you will need to do a few basic housekeeping tasks.  It would be best if you do these before the semester begins as it will save you time.  If you have any trouble completing tasks 1-3, the university provides a 24 hour help service called UITS.  You can contact UITS at

  1. Set up a VPN to connect to campus services from off campus: When you are doing work off campus — even if it’s just trying to connect to library databases — it’s a good idea to use a VPN.  A VPN will encrypt information between your computer and IU.  And, signing in through a VPN means that you won’t have to login to university databases; it’s as if you were working on campus.  Setting up a VPN is simple.  Please follow these steps:
  2. Get any software packages you might need: While most of you probably have all the necessary software for this course, it may be a good idea to get the most recent version (assuming your computer is equipped to handle it).  You may know that as a student, you can get a license to run software on your computer with no direct cost to you.  The service that the university provides is IUWare.  I would appreciate it if you would make sure that your computer has an updated version of Adobe Acrobat Professional.  Some of you may want to consider using IUAnyWare, which allows you to use a number of programs without having to download them onto your computer.  For more information, see
  3. Backup your data: One of the first rules of working with computers is to backup, backup, backup.  It is a good idea to keep at least one version of your important data backed up on a hard drive at an offsite location (if your computer is at home, you might keep a hard drive of your data at work).  Personally, I like the functionality of cloud storage.  There are a lot of options out there, such as DropBox, which some of you may already use.  The university has a number of cloud storage options.  I would recommend that you consider using Box at IU, which like DropBox integrates into a number of commercially available programs (this is especially good if you use iPad apps that sync to cloud servers).  For information on setting your system up, see:

In addition to the steps above, I would appreciate it if you would familiarize yourself with the following two programs: Twitter and Zotero.  We will be using both of these in this course, and you will be required to use them and to participate online.  So, to make it simple for you, I have provided you with links that will help you get started.

  1. Twitter: Below are links to information to get you started.  I have posted these links for people who might be a bit apprehensive about getting started on Twitter.  However, for those of you who are more comfortable with social media, you might want to get started immediately.  Feel free, and jump right in.  It’s not too difficult.  You can always consult Twitter’s guide to its service help you along.
    • Read “A guide to using Twitter in university research, teaching, and impact activities” from The London School of Economics and Political Science.  You may check out the “lists of academic tweeters” or my own guide to #twitterstorians to get recommendations of who you should follow.
    • Once you are set up on twitter, be sure to begin following these hashtags: #digitalhumanities, #dhist, #publichistory
    • We will be using Twitter regularly in this class, so you may want to download a standalone app for your computer or an app for your tablet or smartphone. I use Tweetdeck on my desktop and Tweetbot on my phone. Because I manage a number of Twitter accounts, I also use Hootsuite, which has both an app and a web interface. There are plenty of other apps that you can use as well.
  2. Zotero: Zotero is a program that allows you to organize, cite, store, and share bibliographies, notes, and files for your research.  I use this extensively in all of my research, and I think that all students and faculty should become proficient in it.  A small investment of time up front will save you hours of work in the future.  Note that the easiest way to use Zotero is through the Firefox browser.  That said, I use Safari.  It takes only a few extra steps to set Zotero up in Safari or Chrome.

I know that the material above might be a bit overwhelming at first.  Don’t worry.  We’ll be going over all of this in class.


One Response to “Getting Started”


  1. Getting Ready for the First Day of Class « Digital History - December 27, 2012

    […] Getting Started […]

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