Nuts & Bolts of DH

To cap off my #DayofDH, I went to talk about “Using Tools to Engage Digital Learners” with Catherine Caws (@katrinrulokoz).

This was a bigger “digital humanities” than I usually considered.  I’m pretty firmly ensconsed in “digital literary studies” or even “digital book history” in my daily practice.  Catherine has experience with Computer-Assisted Language Learning (which combines psychology, linguistics, computers, and more).  UVic has a Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) centre (right next to the ETCL, actually).  Catherine also has experience at the CoCo lab in Sydney.

Catherine recommended a few resources for us, including Peter Goodyear’s book Student Experiences of E-Learning in Higher Education.

Catherine started us off on our discussion by bringing up four tools she uses in the classroom: blogs, wikis, curating sites (including Twitter), and video sites (especially vimeo).  The word that kept coming up again and again was “engaged”: digital tools can help students engage with the material, rather than simply memorizing and repeating things.

Our conversation then turned to the legality of using digital tools with students.  Apparently UVic doesn’t allow instructors to hand back assignments in any way but in paper and in person. Also, apparently instructors at a Canadian institution aren’t allowed to ask their students to join or post on sites hosted on American servers.  We also wondered about Day of DH blogs, potential research, and release forms.

I’m happier talking about the potential of digital technology to help students than laws and invasions of privacy.  But I’m probably just pulling an ostrich and putting my head in the sand.

Ultimately, though, the best part of our discussion was just that, the discussion.  Seeing people and talking, that is, putting the human and humanities into digital humanities, is key.  I’m reminded of Sarah Werner’s recent post on the importance of socializing to scholarship.