Collaborating with Zotero

I think after 4 semesters experimenting with Zotero in the classroom that I have figured out a practical and fairly streamlined way to collaborate and share research materials with my students. Zotero is the Center for History and New Media’s amazing tool for reference management, research organization, and collaboration. I would not have efficiently completed either my dissertation or my book without it and have become a bit of a Zotero evangelist ever since.

My best success using Zotero in the classroom has been in West Chester’s HIS 300 (Varieties of History, a methods and historiography combo course) and HIS 400 (senior seminar), two core courses for majors. In each, students accessed articles and chapters from a private group library and established their own private libraries to share sources and assignments with their writing partners and me. Students attached their assignments, I attached their feedback, and we both added research materials and notes to the library. I could check in on the progress of their work, make sure they had identified appropriate research materials, and add ones I knew they needed. I could even tweak metadata in the Zotero item fields to help them correct their citations. The magic of the word processor plug-in blows students’ minds when it creates nearly flawless footnotes and bibliographies for them.

Given my positive experience integrating Zotero into the classroom, I volunteered to lead a workshop on using Zotero for Rutgers-Camden’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities, and its Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. For this group, I’m learning more about public Zotero libraries accessible not just to Zotero group members, but to anyone on the internet. The tool has the potential to be a great means for the Encyclopedia to share its bibliographies, and I’m hoping we figure out a way to do just that.

For a roundtable session at last fall’s American Quilt Study Group, I created a Zotero library of my essential quilt history resources. My settings for this library are “open” and “public,” with the ability for anyone on the internet to read. So let’s test it out–here’s the library. No Zotero sign-in should be needed, at least that’s how I understand it. One has to join the group to add items. And please do if you have items to add!