The most important conclusion that I drew from the teaching with technology panel at THAT Camp AHA last Thursday was that my opinion of this amorphous subfield depends upon whether we’re talking about teaching or research. In terms of research, I think there are people out there doing some really cool things. However, I’m pretty sure that I will not be spending my research time gathering and presenting electronic data anytime soon. For one thing, I got into this business for literary reasons, not technological ones. More importantly, the best work in the digital humanities is clearly collaborative, and I really don’t want to work that way.
On the other hand, I realized we may be approaching the point where not getting students to try some kind of digital project at some point in their college career constitutes educational malpractice. After all, it’s their future that brings them to your classroom, not yours. Just because you’re uncomfortable with the technology doesn’t absolve you from having to make sure they have the skills they need to succeed. Besides, who’s it going to hurt if what they produce isn’t genius? That’s why I think the digital humanities is probably a more important pastime for students than it is for professors.
So I’ve decided to give my graduate students a pilot assignment in the digital humanities this semester even though I know I haven’t got the faintest idea what I’m doing. Luckily, my graduate seminar is in Colorado History which means there’s lots of easily accessible resources and no self-inflicted pressure to cover everything (because I’m actually from New Jersey).
I’m thinking they’ll do small group work, learn the tech skills (and teach them to me while doing it), apply them to the history, and then present the results in class and through the class blog for the wider world. What could be easier! I know, just about everything, but it’s stuff like this that keeps this job interesting. Luckily, I think I can even get a small budget to help this along.
At the moment, I’m thinking about offering these technological options:
2. Web Site.
3. Movie (I actually know iMovie already).
4. Omeka (despite the fact that I’m still not entirely sure what Omeka even is).
Additional suggestions and advice would be much appreciated. The syllabus has to be done by next Tuesday. And yes, I know that this will likely fail in spectacular fashion. So sorry Britney, Matt and all my other
victims graduate students who might be reading this, but I’ve got to start somewhere, right?