Workshop: CLARIN@universities

Submitted by Elisa Gorgaini on 19 November 2019

On 4 and 5 November the Knowledge Sharing Infrastructure Committee of CLARIN organized a workshop on the experience of representatives from national consortia with the integration of CLARIN content into university programs. Twenty experts and national coordinators took part to the lunch to lunch event organized at Utrecht University.

The workshop was preceded by a survey which collected information about 55 individual courses taught in 20 different European countries at 31 different universities since 2008, reaching nearly 6,000 students per year. Most courses are taught at Masters level and belong to the disciplines of Linguistics & Language. While rare, Digital Humanities, Culture Studies and Media Studies are represented as well, as are Computational Linguistics, Information Science and Computer Science.

During the first day of the workshop, we had a panoramic view on how lecturers from different European countries and disciplines integrated the CLARIN infrastructure in their teaching. The challenges and approaches they showcased were very diversified. This first session granted the possibility of getting to know the work and the strategies used in the different courses at different European universities.

The second part of Day 1 was a breakout session where the participants, divided in groups, talked about how the survey, which until now collected information from individual lecturers could be extended to obtain a more comprehensive view of the landscape at the level of national consortia, and discussed a dream CLARIN curriculum. These ideas were followed by another breakout session, during the second day of the workshop, where the participants worked on discussing the role of the national consortia and the role of CLARIN ERIC in improving the integration of CLARIN to university curricula and planning the next steps. This process was helped by the compelling presentation by Stefania Scagliola (Center for Contemporary and Digital History at Université du Luxembourg) and her inspiring work of the teaching platform Ranke.2.

The two-day workshop uncovered the discrepancies between disciplines in the humanities concerning the integration of CLARIN in university courses; e.g. in computational and corpus linguistics CLARIN content is easily introduced, while in more traditional humanities subjects, e.g. literary, cultural and media studies, teachers find it a lot more difficult to introduce the tools and the repositories offered by CLARIN due to lacking technical skills by both lecturers and students.

Simplifying the communication of how the CLARIN infrastructure works, targeting specific disciplines with tailored teaching materials and reaching out to those areas inside social sciences and humanities that are less inclined to work with the CLARIN infrastructure, are three of the take home messages of this workshop, which has successfully mapped out the teaching landscape in which CLARIN is already included, where it is struggling to be included and where it could be included in the future. To sum up, the workshop was fundamental to set the basis for structuring a concrete strategic plan to widen the implementation of CLARIN in university programs in the field of social sciences and humanities.