Blog Post

Things I Found This Week

1. Everything from the ROY ROSENZWEIG Center for History and New Media.

Seriously, the deeper I dig the more useful resources I find for my research and classes. But, most notably this week, I’ve discovered the work of T. Mills Kelly, Digital Humanities Now, and World History Sources as well as a fabulous app/software: Zotero.

I read Kelly’s Teaching History in the Digital Age in preparation for the dissertation and found myself Googling references, jotting down ideas for courses, and babbling happily to my spouse about things I found inspiring. I do have some reservations about the book; most of Kelly’s best case studies of digital humanities at work are drawn from small, historical methods classes, so I’m a bit uncertain how some of the practices he suggests would translate to a broad introductory/overview class, like World Civ, with a roster of 55 students. Concerns with issues like departmental parameters/expectations and how one instructor’s course fits with others in her department are also missing from the book. That being said, it’s an excellent introduction to pedagogical concerns and possibilities in the digital age.

Digital Humanities Now is exciting, first, for its content. The site pulls stories, blog posts, and articles about best practices, projects, studies, and thought pieces in digital humanities from RSS feeds around the web. Editors then pick and choose content to highlight any given week. There are also links to job postings, grants/fellowships, and CFPs/conferences on the site. The second exciting thing about DHN is that it invites readers to volunteer as “editors-at-large.” These community editors nominate content for the editor-in-chief to highlight twice a week and are then asked to provide some feedback about the process. This seems like a brilliant opportunity to participate in digital humanities work and I’m hoping to volunteer later in the summer.

And how have I not found World History Sources before?! I’m familiar with Fordham’s archive – which is incredibly useful – but World History Sources links to loads of additional archives and provides some resources/guides for educators and students reading primary sources. I think this may be, at least in part, the answer to doing digital history in a largish survey course. If nothing else, I’m looking forward to mining the archives and resources for new primary sources and better activities this semester.

Finally, check out Zotero – it’s sort of a cross between Endnote and Evernote. You can run the program through Firefox, storing everything in your browser, or you can download the standalone program and web browser plugin (available for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox) for Mac. The plugin is pretty neat because it detects author information available on a page and then gives you the option to download into your library or libraries in the app. The app also includes an options for note-taking, tagging, and connecting to related content in your library. All in all, very cool.

2. UCLA “A STUDENT COLLABORATORS’ BILL OF RIGHTS”

I utilized a number of student comments in my conference presentation, “Hey Prof, Is There a Crash Course for That,” last week and I’m hoping to continue including their insights in similar work. Ideally, I’d like to write this dissertation with my students. I think they’re terribly smart, they notice things I do not, and I think both the students and I benefit from dialoguing with one another about the content, methods, and evaluations in courses. With that in mind, I want to find ways to treat them with respect and value – so the Student Collaborators’ Bill of Rights seems a good place to begin.

3. You Cannot Do It All

Much as I’m enjoying delving into the digital humanities/pedagogy/ed tech stuff, it’s also frustrating to see all the possibilities and simultaneously recognize I cannot do everything in one semester. My wishlist for what I hope students learn in a class is extensive. I want them to learn how to read primary sources, how to write historically, how to identify bias/perspective in a source, how to discuss sources intelligently with one another, how to take notes, how to be considerate toward other cultures, how to be considerate toward one another, how to speak up in class, how to use the internet in savvy ways, how to write for social media, how to edit Wikipedia…

But that’s simply too much. So I’m finding ways to make peace with the fact that I cannot do it all and I’m hoping that, in conversation with other colleagues, I can begin to identify what skills my course is best suited to communicate.

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