Thoughts from THATCamp: DH & Pedagogy

THATCamp New York left me exhausted and with an exploded brain; it was wonderful, welcoming, I felt at once out of my depth and completely at ease. I co-led a session. I learned so much. There wasn’t one moment where I didn’t want to be in (at least) two different sessions at once.

Pedagogy first. One of the things I value most in the Digital Humanities is the emphasis of process over product; in terms of undergraduate and graduate education alike, that means learning rather than grades. Of course I know that students still want good grades, but there are other means of assessment than term papers and pop quizzes. Further, writing for a larger audience (and I know this from experience with my own intermediate students’ writing for Tumblr) encourages undergraduates in particular to think about the process of their writing, to edit themselves, give a little more thought to their output. DH approaches also encourage collaboration, but allow students to work together on their own schedules –– and allow educators to track individual work done. More importantly, they create a conversation in which the products of academia are demystified and the process is revealed, enabling students to gain confidence in their own ability and right to be part of a scholarly community.

I’d like to: in a writing class: collaboratively edit and grade an anonymous paper using a.nnotate (or rather, in an ideal world, getting a grant to invest in open-source software for collaborative editions), encouraging students to comment on it as if they were grading it, and to respond to each other’s comments. Have them create blog posts and then respond to the blog post of another student each week.

In a literature class: have students create a collaborative hypertext edition of a major text, linking to images, quotes, other texts, rewritings, performances of the text. But then also feature their own notes and interpretation, privileging neither close nor distant reading; ensuring that analysis is still given its proper importance. Their own insight is represented on the same level as that of “higher-ups” –– vital that they feel part of a larger community of scholars. Merge their chapters together, perhaps creating an electronic book using flipsnack.

In a class about Paris: have students create maps of networks and places visited by characters in, say, Zola. Research these places. Use historypin to link from the maps to other texts, images, videos, about the same areas. Explore places as characters.

From the Lightning Talks, I learned about the Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy, hosted on the CUNY Academic Commons. The editors proposed envisioning undergraduate projects as submissions to the journal. I love the idea of enabling students not only to feel part of a community, but to come out with the idea that they have made something, constructed and contributed (and that they now have a tangible CV line).

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