About Learn-Static

What is Learn-Static?

Learn-Static is an initiative to develop and model digital scholarship projects that teach students skills, not systems. When students engage in statically-generated digital projects, they interact with spreadsheets, data transformation, and a variety of methods of writing for the web, all of which increase their digital literacies and inform their critical understanding of the other websites and technical processes they’ll encounter in the future.

Too often, the dynamic platforms we use for classroom digital scholarship projects force instructors and librarians to struggle with initial project set up, ongoing maintenance requirements, project preservation, and lack of customization options while also limiting students’ interaction with fundamental concepts of web literacy beyond its applicability to their understanding of the platform’s user interface.

Learn-Static addresses this issue by designing projects and instructional material that facilitates students’ engagement with open project code and data management throughout a project’s creation.

Our ultimate goal for these projects is that they will enable students to make those same conceptual leaps in regards to digital technologies and culture that they might make in any humanities class—from passive consumption of material to critical engagement with it. More specifically, students will learn spreadsheet management, version control, basic coding, and other digital skills through engagement with static web technologies and data structures, and by seeing these skills lead to the development of substantial, interactive web projects students will be empowered to bring the same spirit of critical inquiry that they focus on humanities content to their understanding of the tools and processes they use to manipulate and share digital content.

How does it work?

Learn-Static is founded on a static web development methodology that is informed by the CollectionBuilder and Lib-Static projects, and focuses on extending that methodology into pedagogical practice following an approach to creating open education materials modeled by the Carpentries.

Static website generators, such as ​Jekyll​, offer an alternative to dynamic web applications by creating complete websites composed of “static” HTML, CSS, and JS files that can be served from any web directory. They do this by iterating over a structured folder of files containing content, templates, configuration options, and data that are typically contained in one repository that can be stored and edited on GitHub, GitLab, or other code hosting sites. Static generators’ low server requirements remove barriers to online publication commonly encountered with web projects​ while also creating projects that are collaborative, reusable for other purposes, and preservable for future use and study.

Learn-Static is piloted by librarians who regularly use static web methodologies to produce library websites, digital collections, and digital scholarship projects, and who see a need for resources that facilitate learning transferable technical skills in the digital humanities classroom.

To this end, the Learn-Static team has created short, versatile learning modules that introduce basic concepts in static web development, including GitHub, HTML, Markdown, data concepts, and computational methods, in addition to reusable static web code templates and documentation for projects that focus on teaching concepts around digital collections, oral histories, text analysis, and responsible data curation.

Who is this for?

Instructors, librarians, and students!

Learn-Static materials are designed to be reused and remixed by instructors and librarians to suit the needs of their teaching. Example step-by-step instructions for students are included in each module and template project.

Most importantly, we recognize that instructors and librarians might be just as new to the static web development style as their students! To address this, we’ve created sample lesson plans, documentation, and additional resources specifically for instructors to understand the technologies being used.

Who created these learning resources?

In 2021 the University of Idaho Library and University of Oregon Libraries received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Level I Digital Humanities Advancement Grant in the amount of $49,919 to create, test, evaluate, and publish the Learn-Static materials. A team of librarians developed and taught the modules and templates in collaboration with History and English professors. Modules and templates were created and incorporated into the classroom in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 and evaluated by the grant project’s advisory board in Summer 2022.

Project Team



Advisory Board

How can I get in touch?

Have a question about how to use the resources on this site? Contact Olivia Wikle.

Also check out the Lib-Static site to learn more about static web and the community of practitioners implementing it in digital scholarship projects at a variety of institutions!