Tonight (Friday, Oct 21, 2011) I’m one of the three “Bootcamp” instructors for #THATCampNE, The Humanities And Technology Camp New England, at the Mandel Center at Brandeis University, my graduate alma mater. It isn’t really a formal presentation, because those aren’t what THATCamps are about, but it’s got a title: “Digital Humanities in the Classroom: Simple Steps.”
Here’s what I’ll be featuring, if you’d like to play along
– these kinda go in order from baby steps to more challenging as you gain more experience.
1) Using well-built digital resources for student research, course readings, and as the foundation of assignments. I keep a list of my favorites.
2) Interrogate the digital environment as a cultural text. Just because they’re so-called digital natives (or maybe especially *because* they’re native to this environment) doesn’t mean they’ve ever paid much attention to its infrastructure. Case in point: Wikipedia.
3) Archive your own classroom(s) outside the walled garden of your proprietary CMS, both as a gesture of goodwill to the open-source world and as a handy archive for past students or invitation to prospective ones. Transparency is good, and (IMO) especially for someone employed by a public university. My version is a WordPress site that doubles as an eportfolio.
4) Have students write for real audiences or make/do things with real-world application. Some of my examples: a “mythbuster” of the 19th century American West (Fall 2009), documenting Obama’s first 100 days in office (Spring 2009), or getting them involved in crowdsourced transcription (Fall 2011), e.g. NY Diner Menus (NY Public Library); Civil War Diaries and Letters (University of Iowa). Or creating a task, like catalog and write finding aids for an actual cash-strapped/stalled digital project on your campus or in your community.
5) Collaborative tools for group work: Google Docs, Wikis. I’ve used Wikispaces to manage a semester-long Congressional simulation and as a workspace for students writing a group-authored historical novel about P.T. Barnum.
7) Use tools of data analysis or visualization to “do stuff” with texts & artifacts. Geolocation: e.g. Historypin
- Google Maps: Alexander Hamilton’s 1744 Itinerarium; Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, Query: where is the West?
- Timelines: e.g. SIMILE Timeline widget for Google Docs (this example’s not mine but we’re using this tool in a class now); Dipity (a student example from Spring 2010) or Preceden, Timetoast (haven’t tried)
- Digitization of our uncatalogued college archive materials – e.g. photographs, yearbooks, teaching diaries, circa 1874-1940; US History II survey
- Documentation of historic places in Worcester, including buildings, monuments, cemeteries, markers, US History II survey
- Digitization of local history print materials, circa 1890-1920 (partnering with Local Desk of the Worcester Public Library), US History II survey
- Casefiles of the Edwards Street Temporary Home & Day Nursery, circa 1910s/1920s (partnering with the Worcester Historical Museum), US social history course
- Profiles of local church congregations, US religion course