Tona Hangen

Why History Students Need to Use Technology

At the AHA 2014 meeting this week, I was part of a panel on doing digital history with undergraduates (more on that later) and read the statement I stick into the methods and capstone syllabi to help explain why I have students create digital ePortfolios using WordPress. Several asked for it, so here it is – use, adapt, borrow freely. The section I referred to in the session is the “Marketable Skills” part.

(Full syllabus here from Fall 2013 PDF)

Why are we having our history majors & minors create a WordPress ePortfolio?

Educational Value: Portfolios are one of the high impact educational practices recognized by the LEAP program (Liberal Education for America’s Promise), of which Worcester State is a part. Portfolios are a way for students to be conscious and intentional about their practice in their chosen field, and to assemble and reflect on their best work.

Career Planning and Professionalism: By archiving your work in a cloud-based digital space, you will have it handy when you need it for graduate applications, job applications, or other future needs. If you choose, you can share the portfolio with prospective employers or graduate programs, but at the very least – you will have a demonstrated and permanent record of your progress and personal growth in the Worcester State history program.

Marketable Skills: Increasingly, historians of all kinds (academic, educational, public, museum, freelance) research, collaborate and publish online. Professional organizations for scholars in the humanities, likewise, communicate on the internet and use social media. As you enter a complex job market, being able to communicate your scholarly ideas to diverse audiences and present yourself professionally may give you an edge or help you network in your chosen field. By creating an ePortfolio on WordPress, you gain potentially marketable skills with this widely-used, open-source web publishing platform. Through it, you have developed and strengthened skills in writing, presentation, digital literacy, and current technology. Humanities scholars cannot leave “computer stuff” to their colleagues in math, science and engineering: we need to be equally adept in using technical tools to enhance our work.

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