StoryMapJS Author Biography Project

StoryMapJS Author Biography Project

| Developed by Catherine Keohane, Department of English, Baruch College, CUNY |

This assignment invites students to contribute to a class StoryMap that provides background information on authors studied in Great Works of Literature II (ENG 2850), and it could be adapted for other survey classes as well. Moving to a ZTC syllabus meant no longer having the resource of the author headnotes in anthologies like the Norton, so Professor Keohane designed this assignment to allow students to engage in creating a shared resource as well as to learn more about licenses and permissions, and library databases.

The OER and Course Artifact

The assignment allows students to locate the writers we study geographically, temporally, and visually. Although students understand that culture and location shape writers’ productions, having the map allows them to grasp the “where” more clearly as well as to see how and if writers traveled or moved.

The assignment uses the open-source storytelling tool StoryMapJS produced by Knight Labs, which has the advantage of being free and the disadvantage of not allowing multiple editors (users sign in with a Google account, so Professor Keohane collected students’ contributions and inserted that data into the StoryMap herself so that the class had one group StoryMap rather than 25 separate ones). This involved some labor on Professor Keohane’s part, but students’ responses to the complete map suggested it was worth the effort. Professor Keohane asked students to find information to create four slides, and other instructors could reduce the number to make their work creating the map more manageable.

The assignment asks students to find open-source or creative-commons-licensed images as a way of introducing them and having them practice ethical use of sources. Professor Keohane observed that in creating presentations, many students include images without any attribution or attention to whether they have the creator’s right to do so. Focusing on using open-source images allows students to understand the value of paying attention to license information.

Moreover, the StoryMapJS tool asks for specific information: a location, description, media/image, credit, and caption. Using this tool helps students distinguish between a credit and a caption, terms that they may have been unfamiliar with or perhaps used interchangeably. The tool’s settings force users to understand what these elements are.

In addition, the assignment directs them to Newman Library databases to find biographical information, in an effort to introduce them to these resources or to remind them they have options beyond a Google search; it also allows them to practice using the databases.

Sample Assignment Guidelines
Sample StoryMap


Faculty Information

Catherine Keohane, Ph.D., teaches in the Great Works Program as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Baruch College, CUNY. Her research centers on long eighteenth-century British literature and culture. With Emily Isaacs, she is the co-author of Intersections: A Thematic Reader for College Writers.


Licensing Information

CC BY-NC-SA license The StoryMapJS Author Biography Project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

Openly licensed but not OER - Look out for restrictions on modification and/or redistribution. The linked resources are openly licensed but not necessarily OER. Licensing conditions may vary among items.

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