On Saturday, March 2, I gave a workshop on digital (humanities) pedagogy for a group of about 20 faculty and staff at Gettysburg College. I was impressed by the participants’ energy, openness, smarts, and playfulness. We had fun!
I designed the workshop so that it moved through four phases, with the goal of participants ultimately walking away with concrete ideas about how they might integrate digital approaches into their own teaching:
1) We explored the rationale for digital pedagogy (pdf of slides), discussing what students need to know in the 21st century, different frameworks for digital pedagogy (e.g. learning science, liberal education, social learning, and studio learning), and definitions of digital pedagogy and the “digital liberal arts.” I started the session with Cathy Davidson’s exercise in which audience members first jot down on an index card three things they think students need to know in order to thrive in the digital age, then share their ideas with someone they didn’t walk in with, and finally work together to select the one key idea. (The exercise got people thinking and talking.)
2) In the second session, I gave a brief presentation (pdf) offering specific case studies of digital pedagogy in action (repurposing some slides I’d used for previous workshops). Participants then broke up into groups to analyze an assignment used in a digital humanities class.
3) Next participants worked in small groups to explore one of the following:
- Visualizing Data
- Mapping Historical Markers
- Building Digital Collections & Exhibits with Omeka
- Doing Things with Text or
- Creating Timelines
I structured the exercise so that participants first looked at the particular applications of the tool in teaching and scholarship (e.g. Mapping the Republic of Letters and Visualizing Emancipation in the session on information visualization), then played with a couple of tools in order to understand how they work, and finally reflected on the advantages and disadvantages of each tool and their potential pedagogical applications. I deliberately kept the exercises short and simple, and I tried to make them relevant to Gettysburg, drawing data from Wikipedia and other open sources.
4) Finally participants worked in small teams (set up according to discipline) to develop an assignment incorporating digital approaches. We concluded the session with a modified gallery walk, in which people circulated through the room and chatted with a representative of each team to learn more about their proposed assignment.
By the end of the day, workshop participants seemed excited by the possibilities and more aware of specific approaches that they could take (as well as a bit exhausted). I got several questions about copyright, so in future workshops I plan to incorporate a more formal discussion of fair use, Creative Commons and the public domain.
Our workshop drew heavily on materials shared by generous digital humanities instructors. (In that spirit, feel free to use or adapt any of my workshop materials. And I’m happy to give a version of this workshop elsewhere.) My thinking about digital humanities pedagogy has been informed by a number of people, particularly my terrific colleague Rebecca Davis.