Digital Humanities Course Design

Andrew Lynch, Classics
Project Website: Digital Humanities Course Design

IN JOSH QUITTNER’S RECENT ARTICLE celebrating the arrival of digital reading devices like Apple’s “magical” iPad, WIRED co-founder Kevin Kelly questions whether a moribund publishing industry is ready to seize opportunities the new wundermachines present. Will magazines take advantage of the “instant, sortable, searchable, savable, portable” delivery of text, photos, and hi-def video available on these throbbingly vibrant, ultra-connected, touch-sensitive devices? Don’t hold your breath, says Kelly, who castigates traditional publishers for repeatedly “trying to shoehorn old models of content and business” into new platforms. “Right now digital magazines are in the same phase that cinema was when it started out just recording plays. They weren’t really movies.”

Similarly, digital education, when limited to just recording lectures to stream on the web, finds itself stuck in the same immature state of development. For many college professors, implementation of new digital technologies amounts to little more than scanning (barely legible) PDFs into (already) archaic CMS structures for students to access before dashing off to lectures. Such “digital” processes merely ape a knowledge-transfer system essentially unchanged since the birth of the medieval university.

THIS PROJECT attempts to liberate traditional coursework from age-old, text-only, lectern-centric restraints, while realizing that enhancing academic substance—through a “remix” of multimedia content in easily-navigable, interactive wikis—is only the first step of a larger task whose real challenge lies in developing better pedagogical frameworks for deploying these new and emerging Web 2.0 social media tools** in ways that vivify higher education.

ITS ULTIMATE GOAL is to develop pedagogies for wiki-based, inquiry-driven courses that can meaningfully engage students with content (and especially one another) in ways that turn every document into a conversation and create an enriched learning experience where the syllabus becomes just the starting point on an open-ended collaborative journey taken by diverse students meeting on a common wiki.


Visit course site under construction:

* The Future of Reading (Fortune 2/11/10)
** Tools: Wikidot, Digress-It, Chatzy, Vimeo, Voicethread, Jing, Zotero, iMovie, Bee Docs and Simile-Exibit timelines