Critical Response 1

 

            The surface level study of digital humanities has been focused mostly towards the endless possibilities of using digital technologies for research purposes. The idea of teaching, learning, and pedagogy is not viewed as an integral part of digital humanities by those who prefer to use these technologies for research. However, digital technologies are changing the way we will look at future academic work. In the reading this week, “Where is the Pedagogy? The Role of Teaching and Learning in Digital Humanities”, the author helps us to explore different ways we can use digital humanities to educate our students. He does this by looking through the lense of a CUNY school. The author chose CUNY schools because the students and faculty demonstrate a focus on innovative pedagogy through the incorporation of digital technology.

            When CUNY schools first opened, their admissions process was an “open admissions”. This meant that there were many students who fell a bit below the bar in terms of some academic content. The CUNY school developed the WAC initiative. This initiative helped to teach writing skills as a critical component of students’ educational career. The fellows in this initiative pushed the use of digital technologies as a method to improve student writing.

            After the WAC, the American Social History Project was introduced. This project was developed in an effort to introduce multimedia in college level history classes. The “Who Built America?” project was one of the most accomplished projects in the ASHP. This was the first time a CD-ROM was used as a form of digital publication for the students to access. The goal of WBA was to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in history classes by offering digital learning materials to students to help them to become more engaged in the content. The ASHP also went as far as creating a “New Media Lab” for faculty and students. The NML provided a common space for faculty and students to work collaboratively on ways to integrate digital technologies into their classrooms in an effective way.

            The Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program also offered another way for doctoral students and faculty to reflect on digital integration opportunities. The ITP encouraged discussion about the cultural, economic, legal, political, and personal impacts of digital technologies in classrooms.

            When CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College was founded, there was a commitment to hire Instructional Technology Fellows to visit and advise different CUNY campuses with integrating digital technologies. The IFTs helped faculty and students to work with technology in a way that would enhance learning in the classroom.

            The development of the CUNY Academic Commons was also created by CUNY faculty members in an effort to develop a unified platform for all scholarly communication involving digital technologies. AC was a platform for all those interested in digital humanities and it was a public collaborative setting. The main goal of AC was to find ways to successfully integrate technology into classrooms.

            Each of the initiative described above was designed to spark a discussion and collaboration amongst faculty and students in the CUNY schools. The goal of each initiative was to provide an opportunity for the faculty and students to explore different ways to integrate technologies into the classroom in an effective way to enhance student learning. “If we are willing to broaden our definition of digital humanities beyond academic research and related issues of academic publication, peer review, and tenure and promotion to encompass critical questions about ways to improve teaching and learning, then CUNYs various digital pedagogy projects and strategies offer an alternative pathway to broaden the impact of the digital humanities movement and make it more relevant to the ongoing and increasingly beleaguered educational mission of contemporary colleges and universities” (p. 9).

            In the viewing assignment, “Defining the Digital Humanities”, I found Professor Cohen’s presentation very engaging. He begins by discussing a definition of digital humanities given by a professor from Oxford. This professor defines digital humanities “with extreme reluctance”. After reading the essay assigned for this week, I would have to agree with him. There are so many different words, ideas, and thoughts associated with the idea of digital humanities – technology, research, pedagogy, innovation, resources, databases, etc.… Digital humanities is having an effect in many different settings. In terms of research, digital humanities offers the opportunity for many different scholars to collaborate through one platform. Particularly, through libraries and librarians who already hold mass digital collections. Digital humanities helps to shape and alter these traditional digital collections to fit the needs of the scholars who wish to collaborate and research digital humanities.

            I thought it was interesting when Professor Cohen mentioned social media in terms of digital humanities. He mentioned that after posting a picture of an object unknown to the “every day” person, within 9 minutes, his social media followers were able to identify what it was, where it came from, what is was used for. A simple social media platform served as a spark to research and learn more about an item that was posted.  

            I really enjoyed the second viewing assignment this week. In this video, Matthew Kirshenbaum discusses how digital humanities is “on the rise”. He speaks about the different aspects of digital humanities which will expand and be practiced by scholars, students, and those interested in digital humanities, and those which should be contained to being worked with by digital humanities specialists. There are many opportunities that digital humanities opens up for us as scholars, teachers, and students.

            I found it interesting when Matt talks about the various definitions of digital humanities. These definitions range from ones that are extremely broad and vague, to some that are very specific. Matt’s definition was, “The Digital Humanities is both a field with a discernable set of academic lineages, practices, and methodologies and a vague umbrella term used to describe the application of digital technology to traditional humanistic inquiry”. I thought his definition was interesting because it encompassed what I believe digital humanities represents from my other two assignments this week. Broken down, his definition speaks to the many different fields that digital humanities can be applied to as well as the notion that technology can be used to enhance the traditional methods used in certain fields.

            Matt also speaks about the fact that we are referring to these ideas, methods, and platforms as digital humanities, however, sooner than later, everyone is going to be using technology to enhance and change the traditional ways that we do things in different fields. Will we still refer to this as digital humanities once everyone is “doing it”? I felt as though this was an interesting thought – our fields, especially education, is constantly changing. What will the next initiative be called?

            After reflecting on the reading and viewing assignments this week, I would like to conclude my response by offering my own definition of digital humanities. “Digital humanities is a field that provides scholars and students a platform to explore, collaborate, innovate, and develop ways in which we can expand and use our databases more effectively for research purposes, and establish effective ways to incorporate technology into our classrooms for an enhanced learning experience.”

    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito

      Gina,

      You have done an outstanding job reflecting on and synthesizing these sources.

      I was really struck by your summation:

         After reflecting on the reading and viewing assignments this week, I would like to conclude my response by offering my own definition of digital humanities. “Digital humanities is a field that provides scholars and students a platform to explore, collaborate, innovate, and develop ways in which we can expand and use our databases more effectively for research purposes, and establish effective ways to incorporate technology into our classrooms for an enhanced learning experience.”

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