By Christiane Cunnar, HRAF Member Services
Why use eHRAF for teaching?
In eHRAF World Cultures & Archaeology students can learn about differences and similarities of cultures, ethnic groups, indigenous people and prehistoric traditions from around the world. Teaching eHRAF contains 30+ online student exercises for general anthropology, archaeology, medical anthropology, and research methods. The online assignments are mostly written and contributed by anthropology professors of HRAF member institutions. They are designed to provide faculty with suggestions to use eHRAF for teaching undergraduate and even graduate student classes. Depending on the teaching level, assignments in eHRAF can range from easy to complex.
Students can use eHRAF in basically two different ways. Topics from the OCM subjects, culture , or archaeological traditions lists can be eHRAF Advanced Search feature to search for ethnographic works across regions and even subsistence types. In the Browse Culture feature of the eHRAF World Cultures database students can ease into ethnographic information for specific cultures by reading the culture summaries and collection documents.
Regardless of the search type, the retrieval of information is systematic and “building” a search using cultures and OCM subjects can be a very rewarding experience. Because eHRAF includes only scholarly materials, teachers can be assured that students search exclusively within academic works.
Is your institution a member of HRAF?
Before you or your students can access the database, you must first make sure that your institution is a member of HRAF. If your institution’s name is on the list, but you are still prompted for log-in authentication to eHRAF World Cultures and/or eHRAF Archaeology, it may mean that not all IP addresses are properly connected, or that you are logging on from an off-campus location that is not authenticated. Email us and we’ll provide you with a temporary password or help you to get automatic authentication.
If your institution is not a member of HRAF
If your institution is not a member of HRAF and you would just like to take a look at eHRAF to see whether it is appropriate for your class, a password trial is sufficient. However, if you intend to use eHRAF in your class assignment, we recommend that you contact your library to set up an IP trial. An IP trial is advantageous in a couple of ways. Firstly, the entire institution, including faculty, librarians, and students, will automatically be connected to eHRAF during the trial. Secondly, library staff are more likely to try out eHRAF during the trial period, to list the service on their website, send out trial announcements to all interested faculty and departments and/or set up a webinar with us. After an IP-authenticated trial, the library can use the user statistics to decide whether or not to subscribe for a full eHRAF membership.
In times of severe budget cuts and competing electronic resources, libraries use user statistics to evaluate the efficiency of their electronic resources. eHRAF is not exempt from this. To pursue or keep a membership, faculty should keep the following in mind:
Usage matters. If eHRAF is used in a small class or seminar, the usage will be lower. Try to incorporate eHRAF in student classes with higher number of students (e.g. an “Introduction to Anthropology”), or several classes.
Get other faculty involved. If you are using eHRAF for teaching or research, tell your colleagues in your department and other departments about it. Perhaps eHRAF could be used as an independent study requirement in an ethno-astronomy or botany class? Might the cultures in eHRAF be of interest to area studies (e.g. African or Asian Studies)? The OCM subjects, cultures, and archaeological tradition lists give a good indication what is covered in the eHRAF databases. Because eHRAF has so many not-so-obvious teaching aspects, we recommend that your colleagues contact us directly if they want to incorporate eHRAF into their teaching curriculum.
Start early. Integrating eHRAF in a teaching curriculum is a process that may take weeks or even months of preparation. It’s not unusual to start preparation in the current semester to use eHRAF in the next semester. Steps include: 1) An initial brainstorming session with a HRAF representative; 2) Getting familiar with eHRAF; 3) Writing the eHRAF assignment for a class; 4) Webinar for Students (usually set up by the library); 5) Follow up help for students and faculty.
Use HRAF support. We will gladly help you to integrate eHRAF in your class curriculum with initial brainstorming sessions, bouncing off ideas, pre-class webinars, and finally, with student webinars.
Involve the library. If you want the library to be on your side in being an advocate for eHRAF, then let them be part of the eHRAF education. In arranging training sessions and webinars, (subject) librarians play a vital role in the use of eHRAF and are more likely to recommend eHRAF to other librarians and patrons.
Teaching Support – Advice & Consultation
At HRAF, we pride ourselves in being more than just a database provider. We like to interact with our members, including the faculty who use eHRAF for teaching. One of the services we provide is teaching support for faculty. It is best to contact us via email or phone if teachers would like to go over ideas on how the eHRAF databases can be incorporated for teaching. It helps if a teacher send us some information about their class, such as a course title and description, number of students in the class, and copy of the syllabus. Contact Christiane Cunnar.
If teachers want to check out eHRAF on their own, we recommend that they start with the Browse Culture section in the eHRAF database. The Browse Cultures section is a good entry point for students to learn what information is in eHRAF, including the major regions (e.g. North America), subregions (e.g. Plains and Plateau) and cultures (e.g. Blackfoot). While there, students can read the Culture Summaries for brief overviews of history, economy, marriage and family, religious beliefs and other topics. In Collection Documents, they can explore the various ethnographic works for a particular culture. In short, Browse Cultures can help students ease into eHRAF, while enriching their cultural knowledge.
Because of eHRAF’s unique structure, if it is used for teaching undergraduate students, we recommend that teachers provide guidance. Students can learn about eHRAF by reading or downloading the “Practical Guide to Using eHRAF.” Alternatively, or in addition, teachers can have a librarian give students a demo of eHRAF or arrange a webinar with us directly.