I'm gearing up for the AHA in Denver. I'm talking about Winter Park's gilded age origins. My approach to local history has been defined by the intersection digital pedagogy and African-American History. Since 2007 I have worked with my students in projects such as the History Engine. Designed with the goal of "enhancing historical education and research for teachers, students, and scholars alike" the collaborative nature of the History Engine project fostered the development of community oriented projects.
Exploring the archival narrative through the History Engine sharpen my thinking about how the local context could inform broader historiographical debates. I've developed a critical making practice informed by the work of scholars like Roger Whitson. Critical Making is defined by Whitson and others as "hands-on productive work" that can supplement and extend critical reflection on technology and society. Heavily influenced by design thinking, contemporary art and engineering fields, these scholars blend and extend the way we see and understand technological development. I pursued this same thinking with goal of making my course a vehicle to increase historical understand in my students and the community.
This is a process in my mind. It is ongoing and inclusive and as such it aligns with Ed Ayers definition of the generative scholarship. Ayers made his mark by creating the Valley of the Shadows project. I remember the first time I saw the project and I recognized how transformative the project was for fostering public understanding about history. Ayers' perspective on digital history and the need for historians to engage the public is guidepost for me. There is not a guidebook in this space, but my plan is to keep going. My instinct is the blended space around creation, curation, and traditional scholarly production offers a way to achieve the outcomes historians traditional achieve in exciting new ways. For me, the ideation linked course design offers the space to discover new knowledge even as it educates students (see what I did there).