Reflections on Teaching Digital Humanities

Ryan Cordell’s article on “How Not to Teach Digital Humanities” really stood out to me in terms of interest in relation to teaching creative writing and how educators should begin thinking about teaching in the humanities. Most students today in both undergraduate and graduate work are already integrating technology on a regular basis into their daily lives. And I agree with Cordell, it’s extremely silly to think that integration of the humanities (liberal arts) and technology is something new—we’ve have technology and used technology for learning, writing, discourse, etc. since the creation of the internet and have even go so far as to use our academic discourse in social setting via social media gaining not only the interest of our peers but engaging a much larger community than just our university campus.

However, I believe that something Cordell touches on is that students want the skills that help them become relevant in the digital humanities and this should really be our focus as future educators. Cordell writes:

When asked what skills they wished they knew better, students responded programming language (48%), audio creation (41%), e-portfolios (40%), geotagging (40%), and speech recognition (38%). These skills have little to do with particular hardware or commercial software. Indeed, the skills students want are those which would allow them to create their own digital work, and perhaps even their own tools—in other words, they want to learn to engage with, and not simply use, technology in the classroom.

Although I believe that this list of skills is not the most accurate in terms of skills, it does demonstrate the need for students to gain the skills to allow them to be relevant in a digital and interdisciplinary world. As technology progresses and our way of interacting with our peers relies more heavily on technology it will be increasingly important that undergrads and grad students know how to publish their work in places that allow it to gain interest. It’s also increasingly important that students learn how to write for the web, develop coding to produce a website, take good photographs that promote themselves or their work, use social media to engage their audience, etc. These are not always skills that are taught in our undergraduate work or even in graduate studies. Many times students are left to fend for themselves in gaining proper understanding of how to use these tools. However, as future educators it’s extremely important that we teach our students how to use these tools effectively, what falls into this rhetoric, and how to appropriately engage in best practices of using these tools.

I believe that students crave integration of technology into their classrooms as it allows them to be better prepared to go out into the job market with transferable skills as well as give them the chance to produce their own creative work for a larger audience base. The difficult part as educators however is giving your class the necessary skills to use the tools needed in today’s ever-changing, interdisciplinary world of the humanities, digital or otherwise.

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2 thoughts on “Reflections on Teaching Digital Humanities

  1. I agree that this is a whole in our training. I took on a website project (a very simple start using Weebly) because I had no background and wanted to make a start in digital humanities. The Writing Center can assist with this process, but that depends on the workshops they’re able to offer and also on whether or not student can attend. I think we have to make these skills more generally available. Perhaps a workshop format working with a specific class project facilitated by the WRT Zone’s technical people would be one way to approach this initially. I would like to see any workshops advertised more also, as it is sometimes they’re not well known.

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  2. hole not whole. I can’t believe I did that and it probably wouldn’t have happened if I’d put this on paper, which is another thing to discuss, deal with – the neurological differences between a screen and paper/pen.

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