Digital Tools and Pedagogy – UB-SIM Workshop

[Feel free to view & download the slides here too: bit.ly/digtools_ped] Welcome! Welcome to the University at Buffalo, Singapore Institute of Management workshop on Digital Tools and Pedagogy. An hour doesn’t feel like enough to dig into both technology and how we teach, but we’re going to give it a go. …

Notes from #aha17: Day 2

A lighter day on my end – and in Denver, where the sun came out and I had a view of the Rockies from my window. Win. A much more promising view to kick off #aha17 day 2! pic.twitter.com/QS4h9fAXJd — Heather Bennett (@heatherlynnsg) January 6, 2017 My brain is pretty …

Notes from #aha17: Day 1

It’s 4° F in Denver. So obviously one of the most shared images on Twitter this morning was Jon Snow. This sort of thing might be what led to these shenanigans on Channel 9 News: History Buffs Tweet About Snow, Hilarity Ensues. It is my intention to write a brief …

Small Steps Shattering Ceilings

I’m wondering now how best to teach the sort of gender-inclusive history that is so near and dear to my heart in this world that is clearly so desperate for big change, not small celebrations. How do I present triumphant, resilient, energizing female warriors and rulers – but still communicate to my students the how limited and complicated those exceptional people were? How do I tell them about the inequality that pervades history without leaving them feeling helpless and lifeless?

I don’t know what this means for my syllabus yet. But this is what I’m thinking about. If you’re thinking about these things too, leave me a comment or come find me on Twitter.

Truth. History. Hitler. (With apologies for the clickbait title.)

I’m not sure insisting that the past can be known or that we should focus on “how it actually was” is the most helpful way to deal with blatantly factless stories. Instead, I would call for the more difficult path of cultivating greater discernment when it comes to speaking or hearing history in the public sphere. Unsurprisingly, I think part of the solution lies in history education – in emphasizing the importance of evidence (over opinion), plausibility (over truth), and complexity (over simplicity) in the interpretation of history.
However, I do wonder if Smith’s insistence on leaving aside storytelling and the significance of historical phenomena, and pursuing history as “an arbiter of truth” actually exacerbates the issue instead of mending it. To suggest that we can pursue historical truth without storytelling belies the nature of historical evidence and promotes the uncritical division of historical claims into “truth” or “not truth” (storytelling, for Smith).

In which I spoke too soon…

So, I complained just yesterday that Calder and Steffes, the authors of white paper on history from the Measuring College Learning project, didn’t seem concerned with the application of historical concepts and competencies to general education courses. Well, lo and behold, Calder chaired a panel/discussion about history gen ed courses at the January 2016 …

Spreadable Media in the Classroom

I’m getting back into the swing of things with the dissertation this week and my book and website of the moment are Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture (Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green, 2013). The work is aimed at media/culture critics, communication scholars, and businesses (an exceptionally …

“This is hard. It isn’t very linear.”

Class Blogging and Non-Linear Storytelling The World Civ I classes I teach are embarking on the final stage of their blogging project this semester. This is a thoroughly self-directed project. Students can choose any topic within the time frame of the course (10,000 BCE to 1500 CE) and they can present their topic …

A Moment of Empathy

There is a moment every semester in which a student steps up to the desk after class to ask, “Prof, I heard a lot of different answers to the discussion questions today. Which one was the right answer?” At which point I smile in my most professorial manner (which may …