By Valerie H Wallace, on 6 October 2010
Transcribe Bentham harnesses the power of crowdsourcing to facilitate transcription; the project is, therefore, an exercise in public engagement. As noted by Ann Mroz in the Times Higher Ed, the project is keen to attract members of the public, including amateur historians and schoolchildren. Transcribe Bentham is, in fact, a heritage learning project which allows school pupils to interact with archival material and to take an active role in the preservation and understanding of our past. The project encourages the use of ICT and widens access to Bentham’s ideas, integral components of the syllabi of many A-levels and Scottish Highers including Religious Studies, Government and Politics and Philosophy. Students studying Law and History will also find the resource relevant and interesting.
Transcribe Bentham headquarters were recently visited by school pupils from the Queen’s School in Chester and St Albans High School for Girls. The pupils were working towards completing their A-levels in Religious Studies and Philosophy, studying Benthamite ethics. The students were keen to hear more about Bentham and to participate in the transcription project.
After a visit to the Auto-Icon and a short lecture on Bentham by Dr Michael Quinn, the girls from the Queen’s School came to the Transcribe Bentham offices where they became the first external contributors to the transcription process. After logging in and completing a few simple tasks, the students transcribed some of Bentham’s original documents. Hannah Daniels, the girls’ teacher, commented that afterwards the girls were ‘buzzing about their experience at the project’; it was fantastic, she said, for the students to be able to view Bentham’s manuscripts and his handwriting. Until then the students had only been exposed to Bentham via textbooks and worksheets. The girls not only transcribed original material, but they also helped to encode this material in TEI-compliant XML by using our specially programmed transcription toolbar. They were delighted to be able to save their work and view it on the screen. Charli Lees, a sixthformer from St Albans High School for Girls, who visited the project for work experience, commented that the transcription tool was ‘easy to use, interesting and fun’.
Besides transcribing Bentham’s works, the girls were able to access information about Bentham’s ideas and watch an online video about his life. A time-line, bibliography of resources and images of Bentham are available to view on the web, as is further information on using Bentham in the classroom.
If you are interested in having your school visit Transcribe Bentham to participate in the project at UCL or if you would like more information on how you might integrate the project into your syllabus, please contact us. We can arrange for your class to visit Jeremy in his box in the South Cloisters, and to hear a lecture from an expert in the field. We can also organise a workshop in a computer lab where students will be given the opportunity to log-in and contribute to the transcription process. Alternatively, representatives from the project are available to visit your school to deliver presentations and introduce pupils to Transcribe Bentham.
- Find out more about Transcribe Bentham and schools
- Read about the Queen’s School visit on the school website and in the Chester Chronicle
- Start transcribing