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Making Things Together: Collaborating and Mentoring on an OER Project

Published onJun 06, 2023
Making Things Together: Collaborating and Mentoring on an OER Project

In spring 2020, during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, articles in the Smithsonian Magazine and the Atlantic reported a resurgence of interest in handicrafts as a means of both finding calm and building community (Grossman; Machemer; Smith). DIY arts and crafts surged in popularity in North America, with “stay-at-home orders [inspiring] those with ample free time to pick up hands-on projects” (Machemer). At the same time, teaching and learning, as well as academic conferences, moved online into hands-off virtual spaces. Connected by a shared interest in both craft and Victorian material culture, a small group of academics piloted two virtual events to enable hands-on learning in a hands-off context: a roundtable on Victorian objects and a workshop on Victorian hair art. Prompted by COVID-19 restrictions on in-person gatherings and fueled by the community support that coalesced around these events, the group launched a year-long series to study old things using new methods of virtual connection: Crafting Communities: A Series of Victorian Object Lessons & Scholarly Exchanges in COVID Times.1

In its inception, we, the members of this group, imagined Crafting Communities primarily as a series of virtual events hosted over Zoom. But as we sought to secure a legacy for live roundtable and workshop events by developing a digital exhibit, a podcast, and a website, what we had imagined primarily as an event series morphed into a digital humanities (DH) project and an open educational resource (OER). As we assembled a team of collaborators and recruited student research assistants, our hands-on investigation of Victorian material culture became, also, a hands-on crash course in digital making, collaboration, and mentoring. We found ourselves doing what we now think of as “Accidental DH”—that is, learning about DH methods at the same time as we collaborated remotely with a geographically dispersed group of students. As we pursued our research focus on Victorian material culture and hands-on making, we discovered compelling parallels between our crafting of physical objects and the cultivation of digital legacy projects––that is, online resources and archives created to support and inspire further learning. While we had a lot to learn about the digital tools we were employing, our most valuable lessons concerned mentorship, lessons we learned from making things together as a team collaborating remotely across three provinces.

This essay argues for the value of making together as a form of mentoring. In it, we explain how our project’s focus on experimental crafting prompted us both to see and to appreciate connections between the processes of experimental crafting and digital making, processes which benefit alike from collaboration and peer mentorship. Our hands-on workshops exploring Victorian craft practices—which emphasized the pleasure of making things, the benefits of working together, and the value of failure as part of learning—primed us to imagine our OER project in similar terms and to focus on hands-on experimentation, peer mentorship, and acceptance of uncertainty. Faculty members on the team thus set aside their traditional roles as supervisor-experts, instead learning alongside student team members in skills-based training sessions and facilitating mentorship opportunities that often centred students as experts, inviting students to mentor the project’s faculty members as well as one another. The project thus embraced a multi-directional mentoring model in which all team members had opportunities to learn, teach, and mentor. As faculty members made things together, they mentored the student team members; in turn, students mentored each other—and they also mentored faculty in return, teaching them not only how to build OERs but also how to be better mentors.

Our discussion of multi-directional mentoring contributes to critical conversations about collaboration and mentorship in the humanities, a field of study traditionally pursued by individual scholars working in isolation. DH projects have both modelled and brought attention to collaboration in the humanities since, as Megan Senseney, Eleanor Dickson Koehl, and Leanne Nay point out, “many DH projects require human and material resources spanning disciplinary and institutional boundaries” (787). DH scholarship has emphasized the importance of collaboration between team members (Siemens et al.) as well as between researchers and their audiences, including students and the wider public (Stommel 84). The Crafting Communities project fits this mould of a DH project: it crosses institutional boundaries and requires input from collaborators with expertise in different disciplines, especially, in our case, from collaborators who teach the use of digital tools.

As we learned how to do this kind of cross-institutional, collaborative work, we realized that making things together using both digital and non-digital tools prompted our team to adopt methods of mentorship shaped by reciprocity and care. Talia Schaffer, a presenter at one of our events and thus a member of the extended community of this project, has described “caring” as “an action rather than a feeling” (Communities 28). In her recent book Communities of Care: The Social Ethics of Victorian Fiction, Schaffer extends her analysis beyond nineteenth-century literature to propose that “mentoring, like every care relationship, needs to be mutual” (204). Schaffer is not alone in urging faculty members to embrace reciprocity and care as guiding values in mentorship. In Generous Thinking, Kathleen Fitzpatrick explores ways in which paying “attention to care” (32) might transform the work academics do. Fitzpatrick asks, “What kinds of new discussions, new relationships, new projects might be possible if our critical thinking practices eschewed competition and were grounded in generosity?” (33). Hoping to see the institution of the university evolve into a “caring community” (209), she proposes that scholarly work defined by a commitment to generosity enables faculty “to place a greater emphasis on—and to attribute a greater value to—collaboration in academic life, and to understand how to properly credit all our collaborators” (37). Nancy Miller makes a similar call for a collaborative and caring approach to academic work, specifically to mentorship work, when she explains, “reciprocity undoes the one-sidedness of the guidance mandate, laying bare the possibility of exchange and surprise” (439–440).

We join Schaffer, Fitzpatrick, and Miller, who have, as we have, been influenced by bell hooks’ thinking on pedagogy and community. In Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, hooks observes, “One of the dangers we face in our educational system is the loss of a feeling of community, not just the loss of closeness among those with whom we work and with our students, but also the loss of a feeling of a connection and closeness with the world beyond the academy” (xv). She urges educators to re-imagine the classroom as “a place of liberating mutuality where teacher and student together work in partnership” (xv). The paired goals of this essay are to highlight how a collaborative model of student–teacher relationships shaped mentorship on our project and to make sure that the labour, both of mentoring and of caring, is visible to a wider audience. These objectives align with the ethics of care, which Fiona Robinson describes as “a critical feminist theory that seeks to reveal the different forms of power that keep the values and activities of care hidden from ‘public’ view” (qtd. in Schaffer, Communities 33). While we do not specifically interrogate those forms of power here, we do aim to resist the ways in which care “is consistently devalued, sidelined, and subordinated” and to take up instead Robinson’s call to recognize care as “a social responsibility, an attribute of citizenship, and a basis of feminist solidarity” (qtd. in Schaffer, Communities 33).

In what follows, we explain the project’s roots in object studies and critical making and we describe its various components, from live Zoom sessions to legacy projects. We then discuss three of the principles that guided our approach to mentoring. First, we highlight the role of making things together in fostering collaborative and caring mentorship relationships. Second, we discuss the importance of learning from one another across disciplines. Third, we consider the ways that we grew our mentorship community, expanding team members’ opportunities for mentorship and professionalization. We conclude this essay with a series of recommendations for integrating opportunities for collaborative, reciprocal, and caring mentorship into team-based research projects, whether within or outside the field of DH.

Material Culture from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries

In 2020 and 2021, Crafting Communities brought together literary scholars, art historians, curators, and artists to produce an interdisciplinary dialogue around Victorian objects. This dialogue built on recent studies of Victorian material culture while also taking seriously art historian Michael Yonan’s assertion that material culture “resists simple disciplinary classification” (233).2 Developing insights from theoretical inquiries into the capacity of material objects to animate human culture and illuminate new understandings of social contexts, both presenters and participants in the project's workshops and roundtables shared knowledge made possible by studying material objects from multiple perspectives and in multi-modal ways.3

The project thus extended scholarly work on the “material turn” in Victorian studies into the digital age, bringing research and teaching that depends on material objects to life within virtual spaces. Events combined the material and the digital to pursue pedagogical aims, modelling experiential learning in the context of remote instruction. The project’s attention to hands-on work, which participants undertook both during online workshops and independently, was informed by the practice of “critical making,” which forges connections between creating physical objects and applying abstract concepts (Ratto). The theory of critical making invites attention to Victorian precursors and influences on this theory, including Arts and Crafts practices advanced by William Morris and similar values that shaped the work of other nineteenth-century makers. Informed by John Ruskin’s aesthetic and social criticism, Arts and Crafts practitioners protested against mechanical progress by reclaiming the beauty and pleasures of artisanal work and emphasizing the importance of handmade objects to everyday life.4

In the first year of the project, we organized five virtual hands-on workshops and seven scholarly roundtables; these events welcomed international scholars of Victorian art history, literature, history, music, periodicals, and disability, as well as artists, librarians, archivists, and museum and art gallery curators as presenters. Scholarly roundtables offered venues for research exchanges within and beyond the academy, widened instructional opportunities for students who were learning remotely, and prompted wide-ranging dialogue among scholars, students, curators, artists, and community members. In each roundtable session, presenters shared an image of one Victorian object and spoke briefly about it, explaining what we learn about Victorian culture from engaging with this object. The roundtable stream featured sessions on such objects as Victorian carpets, a clamshell book, paintings, photos, brooches, foundling hospital petitions, valentines, hair bracelets, nursery wallpaper, posters, tea gowns, sheet music, and a quilled Dakota vest. Hands-on workshops led by makers not only provided experiential learning opportunities for participants but also modelled remote instructional possibilities for instructors who were adapting humanities courses for online delivery. Workshops featured sessions on broderie anglaise embroidery, hair art, block printing, scrapbooking, and collections-based learning; in addition to how-to instruction and hands-on making, these sessions included scholarly presentations on the pedagogical potential of Victorian craft practices.

To capture findings of these events, ten student team members across three universities and three provinces produced a trio of legacy projects geared toward both non-academic audiences and academic instructors: Victorian Things, a virtual Omeka exhibit of the Victorian objects that presenters shared at roundtables; Victorian Samplings, an eleven-episode podcast of interviews with scholars, curators, and artists featured in the series; and, a website hub of instructional materials and resources emerging from our hands-on workshops, as well as a gallery of participants’ workshopped crafts. This site also links to the exhibit, houses the podcast, and shares the project Twitter feed (@craftyvictorian). The lessons the group learned about Victorian material culture through the workshops and roundtables informed how we proceeded with these legacy projects—not only in terms of our plans for training and mentoring student team members but also in terms of our plans for the larger group’s learning on the project.

Making Things, Cultivating Connections

The team’s faculty members adopted the practice of modelling making across all three legacy projects. The work of providing models for student research members placed faculty members in the position of new learners alongside students as they grappled with unfamiliar tools, like Omeka and Audacity. Modelling making, and then making together, emphasized the value of learning through collaborative processes. A tenet of the wider Crafting Communities project, the practice of making things at the same time and in the same virtual space was central to the project’s crafting workshops, in which participants learned from brief live demonstrations of craft practices (such as broderie anglaise) as well as from pre-recorded video demonstrations of particular skills (such as creating ghost signatures or completing a whipstitch) before trying out these new skills, posing questions, and sharing both their struggles and successes. Informed by these live events, our training and mentoring strategies similarly placed modelling and making together at the core of work on the legacy projects, whose creators we dubbed Team Exhibit, Team Podcast, and Team Website. Placing collaboration at the heart of the Crafting Communities series as well as our team’s work together, the faculty team members sought ways to “creat[e] supportive environments for undergraduate [and graduate] research” (Corley 398); they also imagined the team’s collaborations on legacy projects as an extension of the project’s “broad collaboration” with makers and crafters beyond the academy (Arbuckle 298).

Team Exhibit (Andrea Korda, Mary Elizabeth Leighton, Katherine DeCoste, Maryssa Grayer, Anne Mirejovsky, Allegra Stevenson-Kaplan, and Jamie Zabel) were responsible for adapting guest experts’ five-minute roundtable presentations on a Victorian object into brief written summaries, or object descriptions, for the online exhibit. In order to produce a model object description for student team members, faculty members undertook a sample object description, each writing about one object independently of one another. They then compared their drafts and collaboratively generated a co-written model to share with student collaborators. While the purpose of this exercise was to provide a model for student team members, they also wanted to learn from producing an object description from their different disciplinary perspectives and to see what they each noticed and did not notice. They wanted to do the work that they would be asking students to do—which turned out to be more complex and fascinating than they expected.

Team Podcast (Vanessa Warne, Anne Hung, Jessie Krahn and Natalie LoVetri) began their work by producing a practice episode using both Zoom and smartphones. Their early experiments focused on the development of research skills, interviewing skills, and audio editing skills. Though they worked independently on audio editing, producing podcast segments from their recorded interviews, interviewing is a necessarily collaborative and social undertaking and members of the team also met regularly online, troubleshooting and sharing their growing knowledge of the audio-editing software Audacity. Listening to one another’s work, they discussed ways to improve their interviewing skills, to better prepare and guide guests, and to secure the best audio possible while working from home.

From the inception of Team Website (Denae Dyck, Ruth Ormiston, and Madison George-Berlet), the mentoring moved in a direction opposite to that of many mentoring relationships in university settings, with knowledge flowing from student members to faculty members. The original project plan had not included a website, but we realized we needed a hub for the resources we were developing. Ormiston had joined the project team in an administrative role, focused on project management and communication, but their skills in web design helped realize the group’s shared goal to make a website. Ormiston designed and built the website, then produced a series of instructional modules adapted from the crafting workshops. Ormiston’s skills also enabled them to mentor the larger group in, for example, platform selection (they guided the group’s choice by considering compatibility with multimedia, including social feeds; accessibility features; customizable yet streamlined design; and ease of learning for future contributors). Ormiston also mentored Dyck, one of the faculty team members, and student member George-Berlet, who joined Team Website as a content provider of online resources for the instructional modules and for the podcast.

For Teams Exhibit and Podcast, making together was made possible by training undertaken together: Team Exhibit learned about metadata and the preservation of digital objects, copyright issues pertaining to digital images, and the Omeka platform in a series of virtual training sessions led by Matt Huculak (Digital Scholarship Librarian, University of Victoria), while Team Podcast learned how to use Audacity in a virtual training session led by Rich McCue (Digital Scholarship Librarian, University of Victoria). These sessions positioned librarians as valued collaborators and both faculty and students as learners.5 Regular team meetings built on the knowledge gained during training sessions, providing venues for making together; student team members also met apart from faculty mentors, gatherings that facilitated peer-to-peer mentoring.

For example, Team Exhibit developed a schedule for object description work, setting goals, holding group editing meetings, and dedicating time to incorporating edits before the object descriptions were sent to presenters for approval and then published on the exhibit site. As student team members drafted object descriptions, they met in pairs and small groups, without faculty members, to figure out their own editorial processes and their preferences for peer editing. Flexibility in training and mentoring provided opportunities for students to arrive independently at their own systems for drafting and editing, a sort of individually tailored set of best practices that they developed for themselves within the wider structures that faculty team members provided. For example, whereas one pair decided to collaborate by sending drafts back and forth over email, another group used Google Docs. Over time, they developed a sense of their fellow teammates’ writing strengths and weaknesses, as well as their own. The pedagogical goal of this peer editing exercise was thus twofold: not only did this process help the writer receive input and guidance, but it also helped the editor understand how to better hone their own prose. Additionally, working closely—albeit online—over several months, transformed what could be a vulnerable or nerve-wracking experience into an enjoyable process that fostered collaboration and care.

Learning from One Another across Disciplines

The project’s large and diverse team brought together an array of competencies and interests, which resulted in vibrant exchanges of knowledge and skills. Key to our practice was our embrace of disciplinary diversity. Team members learned from those in different disciplines, and also at different academic stages, as equals, each member coming to the work with unique backgrounds and circumstances as we developed legacy projects together. On Team Exhibit, for example, English literature students found themselves “reading” physical artifacts, with strategies they might use in close reading literary texts, while students with art history backgrounds expanded fellow students’ vocabularies to fit the task. One English literature student struggled to accurately describe the artistic techniques used in J. M. Whistler’s etching The Fleet: Monitors; when the group met to revise their writing, expertise offered by an art history student helped fill gaps in their knowledge, the student explaining how to describe the white portions of the etching as “negative space” and drawing attention to the spareness of the etched lines. Working across disciplines also led Team Exhibit members who recognized gaps in their own or their teammates’ knowledge to prioritize accessible writing in their object descriptions. As these conversations unfolded, team members were inspired by one another’s suggestions. By breaking out of our institutional and disciplinary “bubbles,” we learned from one another’s working styles. Coming together as equals from varied academic backgrounds and areas of expertise allowed us to fill in gaps in each other’s knowledge, to collaborate creatively, and to form lasting peer mentorship connections that transcend both disciplines and institutions.

In another example, the team as a whole had the opportunity to learn from student team member Jessie Krahn who introduced us to the concept of parasociality, drawn from her MA thesis research. Parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships, typically existing between celebrities and their fans; as Krahn’s research taught us, however, there are also parasocial elements to classrooms, both online and offline. In a meta-analysis of literature studying the effects on fans of celebrities’ self-disclosure (that is, sharing about oneself), Jihyun Kim and Haeyon Song demonstrated that self-disclosure can induce a feeling of social presence. Kim and Song point out that similar paradigms form in online learning environments, where “social and informal relationships and trust influence a feeling of social presence among online students” (572). Furthermore, they note, “humor, warmth, and perceived self-disclosure have been […] addressed as important social factors that induce strong social presence in online learning environments” (572). This concept immediately struck team members as a useful way of thinking about both podcasting and the project’s wider educational goals. When editing podcast segments, Team Podcast strove to preserve moments of self-disclosure, moments where interviewees’ voices or their sharing of something personal anchored and engaged listeners. Victorian Samplings features so many different guests that a conversational tone preserving each interviewee’s unique cadence, verbal mannerisms, sense of humour, and general idiosyncratic aural stamp helped to create connection for listeners and construct a feeling of social presence.

The process of learning laterally from one another, demonstrated by Krahn’s sharing of her work on the parasocial, resonates with the iterative learning process that Janelle Jenstad and Joseph Takeda describe as a feature of their work on the Map of Early Modern London project. In “Making the RA Matter: Pedagogy, Interface, and Practices,” they “emphasize the pedagogical potential of allowing the team to make itself in ways that work for the project and personnel” (72). Striving toward, to use Jenstad and Takeda’s terms, a “flat” rather than strictly “hierarchical” pedagogical model (72), the Crafting Communities team adopted peer mentoring strategies and explored opportunities for reflection as ways of achieving a training process that consistently departed from a top-down knowledge delivery model.

Growing Our Community

While peer and reciprocal mentoring was central to the development of the Crafting Communities legacy projects, the work of mentoring was shared—formally and informally, officially and unofficially, and, in all cases, generously—by people both within and beyond the Crafting Communities team. Some of the most important contributions to student team members’ professionalization on this project were made by our guest experts: by the community of scholars, curators, artists, and librarians who shared their knowledge with our team and, in the case of Team Podcast, who spent time speaking with student team members from their homes and offices across Canada, the US, the UK, and as far away as New Zealand. While having so many presenters involved in the project was challenging to manage at times, we were rewarded by the number and kinds of productive exchanges that resulted.

When we initially landed on the project title “Crafting Communities,” we did not foresee that the project would indeed craft a large community of collaborators. Our project’s community includes both audience members for live events and users of our OERs. Like many other online events during the pandemic, Crafting Communities sessions, hosted on Zoom, made scholars’ work more accessible than similar content presented at a traditional in-person conference. Participants joined at no cost, from different time zones and locations, and consequently did not face barriers related to the cost of travel, disability, or care responsibilities. In addition, our legacy projects preserved the content of live events and made that content available in different formats, thus extending our community beyond those who could be present together online at a particular point in time. Similarly, we learned to design other resources with inclusion in mind. For example, transcriptions of podcast episodes, created by team member Natalie LoVetri, make our podcast more accessible to a range of audiences. While transcription makes audio content available to persons who are deaf or have hearing impairments, transcripts can also support the work of audiences with learning disabilities or for whom English is an additional language, as student team members explained to faculty members.


Our team offers the following recommendations regarding mentoring, care, and collaboration:

1. Facilitate Multi-Directional Mentoring: Implementing structures that enable student team members to develop their own mentoring strategies constitutes mentoring. Students working on our website learned not only through formal training but also through independent inquiry and trial and error. As the students working on the website noted, because their roles had no methodological precedent, they were able to bring creativity and innovation to their work to achieve goals they set for the website. Website work was new to student member George-Berlet and faculty member Dyck, but Ormiston’s mentorship showed them how to balance accessibility and functionality. George-Berlet also recognized that her experience as a mentee for website design gave her the capacity, as the project evolved, to act as a mentor who could continue to develop both the site and the skill set of student and faculty collaborators on this project.

2. Mentor for the Future: Providing professionalization opportunities beyond the project’s immediate goals creates lasting benefits for student research assistants. For example, after several months of productive work as a team, the faculty team members offered student members a first step in building a project portfolio: a mini-workshop on CV development—specifically, on how to document the work they had done, the skills they had acquired, and the resources they had created on this project. As noted above, faculty members also invited students to join them in proposing and preparing a session for the DHSI 2021 conference on Open/Social/Digital Humanities Pedagogy, Training, and Mentorship as a prompt to reflect on their experiences and skill acquisition. While professionalization opportunities, such as the opportunity to present at an academic conference, or to co-author an essay like this one, can help students secure new opportunities such as funding, employment, or admission to graduate programs, the opportunity for shared reflection created by this undertaking had noteworthy benefits of its own, as we discuss next.

3. Reflect Together: Prior to launching Crafting Communities, faculty team members had only ever worked with one or two research assistants at a time; they had, of course, provided students with training and with feedback on the work that was done. Faculty members had not, however, understood the value of building time into the work schedule for reflection (paid time for student members). Working with a large team of students, and as a trio of co-supervisors, faculty members discovered the value of dedicated and paid time to reflect as a team on process, on faculty and student skill acquisition, on ways for student team members to continue their skill development and also, importantly, on ways for students to document their skills. Coming together as a team of fourteen members, we learned about the practical processes each sub-team had devised and ways in which their different approaches supported meaningful collaboration and professionalization. For example, Anne Hung reflected on her experiences as part of Team Podcast and showed us that the skills she honed through audio editing were transferable to her work as a writer. While we recognized podcast production as a skill in and of itself, we learned from Hung that it is also an opportunity for academic writers and editors to practice discernment and resourcefulness. It was gratifying but also instructive for faculty members to hear student members speak thoughtfully about discoveries like these and what they had meant for each of them. While sharing reflections at a DH conference highlighted the value of collaborative reflection, this kind of reflection need not take place in public venues. Supervisors and students, in their varying and shifting roles as mentees or mentors, can benefit equally from dedicated time for shared reflection not only on how they shaped a project but also on how the project shaped them.

4. Celebrate Together (in Public): Creating opportunities to celebrate our team’s achievements enabled us to practice these tenets of multi-directional mentoring, mentoring for the future, and reflecting together. Not included on the project’s initial roster of events, an hour-long virtual project launch played an important role in sharing and celebrating team members’ contributions not only with one another but also with a wider community. Brainstorming the event (how to present the project’s three components, who would present what and in what format, how to prepare for these presentations, and whom to acknowledge and thank) honed team members’ communication and event-planning skills; presenting at the event showcased student team members’ skills and labour. The opportunity to present a session at DHSI 2021, mentioned above, similarly enabled team members to hone their communication and planning skills for an academic audience. Of equal importance, these public events made visible, in meaningful ways, the role that students had played in the project, recognizing and celebrating their work as co-creators. Faculty team members plan to build such opportunities into future project planning, integrating mentoring not only into team members’ labour to complete the project but also into public-facing celebrations of the results of that labour.


Crafting Communities’ legacy projects transitioned students from attendees at events, whose responsibilities might have been limited to behind-the-scenes organizational assistance or entering information into the Zoom chat, to participants with significant investment in those events: co-creators who worked together to preserve and amplify knowledge shared at live events through a trio of public-facing, open educational resources. Looking back at our work, we recognize the importance of our subject matter—of the crafting practices and material culture we came together to explore—to our training and mentoring and to the OERs we co-created. For example, as art historian Morna O’Neill taught our team, the Ladies Carpet was the work of over 150 needlewomen who produced sections of a carpet, working in their homes across distances, their contributions stitched together to create a massive carpet that was displayed in London, England at the Great Exhibition of 1851. The Ladies Carpet is an apt metaphor for the making and mentoring that contributed to the carpet’s representation in Crafting Communities legacy projects. Team Podcast worked together on this object: one member interviewed O’Neill about this fascinating artifact for a podcast episode; another reviewed and edited that interview, then stitched it into an episode selected by the team. This interview highlighted the importance of collaboration to the carpet’s creation. Team Exhibit also created an exhibit entry that, like the object it features, was the work of more than one maker: the draft of one student was first revised and strengthened through conversation with another student, and their shared work was then reviewed and incorporated into the exhibit by another team member. As the Victorian Things exhibit highlights, through its emphasis on a specific researcher’s work on a given object, the larger OER project was necessarily a collaboration that reached beyond the members of the Crafting Communities team.

Online learning—online anything, really—has frequently been characterized as passive and disengaged; in the summer of 2020, influenced by this characterization, the faculty members on this team were dreading heading into a year of remote teaching. Working on the Crafting Communities project helped us to turn things around and better recognize both the potential of distanced collaboration and the affordances of online learning. Through roundtables and workshops, and then through the virtual exhibition, podcast, and website, this project used digital tools and virtual spaces to bring Victorian material culture to life—to give these material objects and the scholars and makers who work with them a “social presence,” to use the ideas Krahn taught us, in the intellectual and work lives of team members (both faculty and students) and, we hope, in the lives of the people who use the resources generated by this project. Inspired by the old things and traditional methods of handicraft that constitute the project’s subject of study, our team discovered the value of making things together. We also discovered the value of new methods, not only the methods of DH but also the methods of mentorship outlined here.

Acknowledgements: The authors of this essay gratefully acknowledge the funders of the Crafting Communities project: the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada, and the Universities of Victoria, Alberta, and Manitoba. We also thank the anonymous vetters of this essay and editors of IDEAH for their valuable guidance. Finally, we want to express our gratitude to all the participants in the 2020–2021 iteration of Crafting Communities: the presenters, contributors, workshop participants, and audience members, who made a difficult year better when they came together to learn, teach, share, and make.

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