Meeting students’ need for essential workforce skills

ITHAKA announced a major upgrade to Constellate, their platform that helps faculty easily and effectively teach text analysis and data skills. Constellate already integrates scholarly content and open educational resources into a cloud-based lab that faculty are using with students at colleges and universities across the United States, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong and Israel. Today’s release unveils a new user dashboard and enhanced lab environment that make it even easier for faculty to help their students learn text analysis, ultimately gaining the skills they need to succeed in today’s data-driven workplace.

“Every university in the world right now is figuring out how to teach data literacy,” said Nathan Kelber, Constellate’s Education Manager. “Whether you’re teaching at a small institution that lacks data education infrastructure or a large institution that is struggling to scale instruction, Constellate gives faculty and students the tools they need to get started.”

Constellate now offers:

  • A faster, more reliable lab environment leveraging popular, open source tools, like JupyterLab
  • The ability to personalize the lab space to edit, delete, and save files ongoing between sessions
  • A new snapshot functionality which allows instructors, students, and research collaborators to seamlessly share lessons, assignments and notebooks
  • An improved dashboard so users can more easily manage their datasets, lab environment, and snapshots
  • Live training, support, and mentorship for institutions offering their first data literacy instruction

These enhancements strengthen the Constellate service, which is already differentiated by its pedagogical focus and ability to enable users, in a matter of minutes, to build a dataset from the millions of documents available in Constellate through its peer services, JSTOR and Portico, and partners like Chronicling America and DocSouth Data, independent of their library’s holdings. Importantly, researchers can also import their own curated data for analysis in their lab.

“Constellate is a very good entry point for students to start learning Python and get hands-on experience with more advanced methodologies, like topic modeling, when they don’t necessarily have the skills to code themselves,” says Keyao “Kyle” Pan, Assistant Professor of Digital History at Florida International University.

A 2023 Charleston Advisor review called Constellate “a great tool for users… who would like to engage in data analytics projects without any exposure to programming languages.” It goes on to note that “the integrated design of document search, dataset builder, and visualization reduces the learning curve for beginners.”

Constellate’s focus on teaching is an intentional response to the challenge facing learners and educators as our lives become ever more influenced by computation and data analysis. “All students, in every discipline and at every college or school, need to understand better how data can be analyzed for new insights,” said Kevin Guthrie, President, ITHAKA. “It is not just a matter of knowing how to conduct this kind of research, but also to be better informed and discerning about how data are used to influence us, whether through advertising or the development of generative AI. As more people understand these technologies, we will be in a better position to manage them as a society.”

To help faculty and instructors learn and hone their text analysis skills, ITHAKA is hosting the Text Analysis Pedagogy (TAP) Institute, a free series of events and classes offered from July 10 through August 4. The courses, which use Constellate, are taught by experts in text analysis and progress from beginner to advanced levels throughout the summer. Those interested in learning more can register to attend one or more TAP Institute courses at no cost, and should explore the freely available Constellate dataset builder and open educational resources and tutorials.

About Constellate

Constellate is the only text analysis platform that integrates access to scholarly content and open educational resources into a cloud-based lab to help instructors more easily and effectively teach text analysis and data skills. Constellate is part of ITHAKA’s portfolio of non-profit services, along with trusted resources like JSTOR and Portico. ITHAKA’s services are all aligned around a shared mission to improve access to knowledge for people around the world as affordably and sustainably as possible.

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