Teaching & Learning

When I consider my own approach to teaching and learning I find there are similar concepts and ideas that seem to be appear in digital humanities pedagogical approaches. One of the key themes that sticks out is a focus on audience and collaboration. In the talk by Mark Sample “Building and Sharing When You’re Supposed to be Teaching” he discusses how digital humanities plays a role in his literature courses, particularly when it comes to this idea of audience, sharing, and then, building. As a writing studies scholar in rhetorical theory we teach our students the importance of knowing your audience for the different kinds of work you produce. Whether that is in written form or digital, audience is one of the parts of the rhetorical triangle but surprisingly, one we seem to neglect when writing. As Sample mentions, he attempts to get his students to think beyond themselves when it comes to audience, and that is where the concept of sharing comes into play. I see this happening as well in my classes through discussion activities that incorporate “think-pair-share” and other collaborative assignments.

When working with students from different disciplines as we often due in lower level or gen ed courses, the interdisciplinary nature of the digital humanities fits well into teaching styles. Sample introduces us to his method of “building” as a way to help students take what they’ve shared to then (re)produce or (re)present their ideas into something exciting and engaging. This can be done using DH tools such as mapping, data visualizations, and storytelling software. DH as a teaching and learning practice appears to be a way to engage students at all levels to think critically and then, experiment and discover new knowledge along the way.

Looking at a few HASTAC articles on teaching and learning practices in DH, I was drawn to the different ways teachers are thinking about the construction of their syllabus.  In the “Mediating Race: Evolving Syllabus” post, Cathy Robinson outlines an example of what an interdisciplinary DH course would entail that focuses on race, technology, and media. As most syllabus have, she introduces the course with a general overview in the course description. She then has a statement how the course will be “evolving”over the semester. What this shows is a collaborative approach that will allow the students to help shape the class discussions, methods, and projects. Thinking about Samples approach in his literature course, it seems like an important aspect of DH classes should have a collaborative component that doesn’t assume the instructor will know everything, but instead, takes into account what everyone can learn from each other to help shape the classroom.

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