A Digital Teaching Praxis

As I make the transition to MSU, I recognize that a praxis I built at Rollins College is not easily forgotten. From Eatonville and Zora Neale Hurston to Hannibal Square and Tuskegee Universe, I find myself trying to sort through structures I built and the practice I want/need to continue. In the context of the Central Florida DH community, I was starting a process linked the UCF Center for Humanities and Digital Research (CHDR) around digital pedagogy and community engagement that was setting the foundation for the future. Thanks to ACS/R1 grant from the Associated Colleges of the South, I was able to organize a DH workshop with Scot French that took a cohort of faculty from Rollins College and UCF through a process of scaling up for using technology in the classroom.

As you can see from my little video highlight reel, rather than a workshop on a specific tools, this workshop was formulated around the idea of “digital intervention” within a course the instructor was designing. Using my “the simplest tool is the best" mantra, we were aiming to support the participants in a process of exploration linked to digital humanities practice. The final outcome were lesson plans created by the participants based on the tool they judge most effective for this course. You can see them online here. This was a requirement for the grant and the final home for these lesson plan is intended to the Florida Digital Humanities Consortium website. We were deep in a discussion about creating a teaching portal, but that process continues and I’m not around. As always, if you are not online easily, there is a question of whether or not you can get access to the information. I decided to make a pdf, which required some kind of cover image.

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The physical takeaway is often useful for DH project outcomes. I’m not sure this PDF is going to be widely circulated, but having it give me an option. My hope in designing the workshop was to create a cohort of faculty that would growing into a digital humanities practice together and participate in THATCamp Florida and support greater DH engagement on campus. My generative practice weaves classroom, community, and scholarly question into a practice. I think that process can be useful. I hope the 2017 cohort continue their engagement with DH, but now that I’m at MSU, the size and scope of the DH community on campus make for a different set of challenges.

More to come.

The What I did or Hidden Digital Labor Problem

The problem of digital labor in the humanities is a real one. I often talk to colleagues about the work it takes to make something that doesn't seem done. One way to manage that problem is to blog about what you do.  Since the humanities depend so heavily on the building on previous insights, the ability to cite ongoing work and ideas from colleagues through citing their blogs becomes crucial to document the labor they are putting into creating digital objects.  As I write the final report for Digital Literacy and Collaborative Learning Workshop I co-designed and co-led with Scot French, the need map out all we did on paper feels a little hollow. We did a lot, but the report can't capture it all.  On the surface, it was a straightforward exercise. Rollins is a part of the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS).  The ACS has a generous grants program that has helped me get several digital projects off the ground. The ACS-R1 grant was designed to encourage liberal arts faculty to create collaboration with research institution faculty.   For this ACS- R1 grant I worked with Scot French (UCF) to create a two-day Digital Literacy and Collaborative Learning (DLCL) workshop. The workshop was focused on developing a cross-institutional framework for promoting broadly collaborative, community-based undergraduate and graduate student research employing the tools and methods linked to digital humanities. We designed this workshop to expand faculty dialogue connected to community engagement and digital humanities. Of course, Rollins College has received national recognition for its ongoing commitment to community engagement, and the University of Central Florida (UCF) has a public history program and wider institutional mandate to engage with the Central Florida community.  The grant funded the workshop for faculty cohort from Rollins and UCF to explore the possible paths for digital tools and methods in and out of the classroom. As you can see below, we took advantage of digital platforms to keep track of our process.