As a longtime provider of online anthropological databases – eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology – HRAF would like to assist our members as well as other instructors, researchers, and students in making the most of wholly or partially online classroom environments. HRAF is committed to the continued development of our databases and open access resources. As teaching needs evolve, we seek to support instructors as they creatively leverage digital tools to enhance learning, wherever it takes place. On this page, we will share our available teaching and learning materials, as well as offer suggestions for incorporating them into online coursework.
Teaching Online with the eHRAF Databases
Comprising the largest anthropological databank in the world, our ethnographic and archaeological databases include nearly 1 million pages of expertly indexed information on over 468 cultures and traditions. Having hundreds of pages of ethnographic and archaeological material at your fingertips can be an invaluable resource when working remotely without access to a physical library or traditional campus-based resources. The databases contain many original anthropological and archaeological texts including classic ethnographies from authors such as Malinowski, Mead, Evans-Pritchard, and Boas – to name just a few – that you might otherwise find on your university library shelf (and some that you might not).
Unlike academic file repositories offering static articles in PDF format, eHRAF allows users to search through the text of the entire database at once, and to zoom in on relevant passages across all of the documents in our collections in moments. Each and every paragraph has been subject-indexed by anthropologists at HRAF with OCM identifiers in the sidebar so that readers can easily see which topics of interests are covered, and then follow those subject identifiers throughout the database to find additional ethnographic texts on the same and related topics across cultures.
This enables rapid retrieval across hundreds of thousands of pages. Results are presented initially at the paragraph level with the option to jump out to the original document page for more context and to dig deeper into the source ethnography or archaeological data. It is also possible to browse for specific topics or cultures, and to narrow searches by region, subsistence type, and samples.
- For a specific example of how to build a classroom assignment around a portion of a classic ethnographic text found in eHRAF World Cultures, see Adjusting to Remote Teaching with eHRAF.
- For problem-solving distance learning issues in anthropology, see Solving online teaching conundrums with eHRAF.
Overwhelmed with the prospect of teaching classes entirely or partially online? More advice on the meeting the challenges of fully remote or hybrid teaching can be found in our post, Remote Futures: Tips for Online Teaching and Learning in Anthropology.
With all the challenges that accompany teaching online, classroom-ready materials for sharing and uploading to virtual learning platforms make it easier for instructors to build a varied and flexible digital syllabus. We have developed eHRAF Workbooks with assignments based on eHRAF World Cultures. Beginning with workbook activities for cultural anthropology courses to be released in time for Fall 2020, introductory archaeology activities as well as additional area studies and advanced topics will follow.
Designed to complement any introductory textbook or anthropology curriculum, eHRAF Workbook activities are presented as PowerPoint slideshows that instructors can modify, share, and upload to Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, or a similar learning management system. All of the activities are based upon searching or browsing in eHRAF, and include links and instructions for students to enter and explore the database in order to complete the assignments. There are a variety of activity formats, including short answer, multiple choice, and brief cross-cultural research tasks. Most include background information on the topic, links to additional HRAF materials, and further discussion questions. Answer keys are provided for instructors where applicable.
For more ideas on how to incorporate exercises using the eHRAF databases into your newly online courses, Teaching eHRAF is our open-access repository of sample syllabi and teaching materials. We have nearly 60 exercises available thus far and are in the process of adding new exercises specifically designed for introductory courses and remote learning environments. For example, Ethnographic Insights Across Cultures presents a full anthropology course syllabus that makes use of all digital resources including engaging posts from our homepage and companion videos for each week.
In Teaching eHRAF, you can search and browse for topics of interest and use the existing syllabi as-is, or refer to them as a guide to modify the relevant portions to better suit your courses. Some of the exercises include easy-to-share PDFs, PowerPoints, or other media. There are different assignment types (such as quizzes, short papers, or group projects), and a wide range of anthropological subjects. You can learn more about the contents of Teaching eHRAF here.
All of the exercises in Teaching eHRAF make use of the eHRAF databases in some way, and are therefore best utilized with a full membership, so we encourage instructors to sign up for a trial if your institution is not yet a member. Feel free to also get in touch should you need assistance adapting any of the exercises for remote teaching needs. If you would like personalized help incorporating eHRAF into your research or teaching curriculum, contact us about a webinar.
In addition to the many sample syllabi that are available in Teaching eHRAF, we are interested in hearing how individual faculty members and instructors utilize the eHRAF Databases and HRAF’s open access resources in their classrooms.
HRAF recently had the pleasure of interviewing an innovative and extraordinarily dedicated community college faculty member who is a strong advocate for teaching with eHRAF. Janice Hartgrove-Freile is a Professor of Psychology at Lone Star College-North Harris in Houston, Texas.
At the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester, we shared new anthropology and archaeology teaching assignments from Matthew Longcore, our Member Services Manager who also teaches anthropology and archaeology courses at the University of Connecticut. In a follow-up post, Professor Longcore offers reflections from each of his courses, as well as recommendations for other faculty members who may be planning to teach with eHRAF.
You can find additional teaching faculty testimonials here.
More Open Access resources from HRAF
- Introducing Cross-Cultural Research is HRAF’s visual online course on the fundamentals of cross-cultural research.
- Explaining Human Culture (EHC), is a publicly accessible database containing information on over 1,000 cross-cultural studies spanning more than 100 years. EHC also contains topical summaries of what has been learned from cross-cultural research.
- Our HRAF homepage blog, eHRAF Highlights, contains thought-provoking anthropological themes and cultural comparisons, from holidays like St. Patrick’s Day or Halloween to foods like cheese and chocolate, or topics like body positivity and romantic kissing. Each post is fully referenced and can easily be adapted in conjunction with other coursework material.
- Video Guides and Tutorials: Our classroom-ready YouTube videos cover all aspects of searching and browsing eHRAF, as well as an overview of Explaining Human Culture.
HRAF has over 550 member institutions throughout the world. Visit this page to see if your institution already has access to eHRAF. You may be familiar with our flagship eHRAF Databases – eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology – from your campus library. But did you know that members (or institutions on a free trial) can access eHRAF for remote learning from off-campus just as easily? Librarians can ensure that access to eHRAF remains uninterrupted during campus closures by providing us with up-to-date IP ranges and proxy information.
For instructors who are new to eHRAF, we encourage you to request a 60-day institution-wide trial via your university or college library. If an academic library is unable to process a campus-wide trial or to commit to an annual membership at this time, instructors interested in using eHRAF for an entire term may benefit from our new Course Membership. This dues category provides access to a subset of cultures drawn from the Probability Sample Files and some additional cases, and is possible to use in conjunction with our eHRAF Workbooks. Learn more here.