Classroom as Platform and Community Engagement

Since coming to Rollins College in 2003, I've been deeply engaged in community history. When I began this process, I was not thinking about it in terms of Community Engagement, instead I was thinking about it in the framework of public history. In particular, I was especially concerned with collect community stories through oral history projects linked with community partners such as the Winter Park Historical Association. Over the years my partners have expanded to include the Winter Park Public Library, Hannibal Square Heritage Center and the Hannibal Square Community Land Trust. These links allow me to align the course content with the community in way that bolster student learning.  This is no simple task, but it is an important process.

Digital Flashback

I'm on social media. This is not a secret, but perhaps some of the logic I employ for why I'm on social media is not clear. There are a few reason, but the most basic is that I see social media as part of my scholarly narrative. Thus, I tend to incorporate those activities into the broader contours of the things I'm teaching and researching.  Of course, social media has a many elements that operate outside academic discourse.  Indeed, there are plenty of questions about the use or misuse of social media in academia.  Since I'm using it, I get questions from colleagues and reporters about social media. One question that I've gotten is about using twitter in the classroom.  My first response is no, I don't use twitter. Indeed, if you examine some the common practice associated with Twitter in the classroom, it would make no sense for me. Technique such as allowing students to ask questions are not useful in a classroom with 10 students. Moreover, my efforts linked to digital tools is focus on creation and merely asking questions does not reach the benchmark I believe important.  As a result, I did not have much to offer to those reporters that wanted quotes on twitter in the classroom. However, thinking about the implication of twitter as platform that can be crafted to support simulation allowed me to create an assignment use twitter.  My Digital Flashback assignment asked students in my Decade of Decision 1890s course to imagine themselves in 1893.  The twitter platform offered great opportunities to create an engaging narrative using archival documents. You can see the results below.