So here we are: my tenth blog post. Shall we begin?
Yesterday in HIST5702x, we had a crack at creating lesson plans for seminars in digital history. One of the elements I believed to be a fundamental necessity in designing these courses is the allotment of time for a tutorial, or a section of the seminar that is dedicated to hands-on, trial and error work. While we have done a good portion of that throughout our semester, I, at times, found it difficult to effectively use certain programs once we had left the classroom setting. But hey, we all learn differently.
All of that aside, I was pleasantly surprised to come home to find a friend who’d posted a related concern on Facebook. In short, a WordPress blog she’d created for an 2nd year undergraduate Colonial History course, she discovered, was being cited, and used by students and teachers in many different countries around the world (especially, in the United States). At least one teacher, she found, had built a lesson plan around her site, getting students to make use of her research.
On the one hand, it is up to teachers to properly check their sources. Call me old fashioned, but if I’m ever given a classroom full of students—no matter what grade—I would not allow Wikipedia-cited essays. On the other hand, the exploration and use of non-”traditional” sources is encouraged by the digital humanities. In my colleague’s case, she put out one of the few webpages dedicated to colonial music—something the teacher no doubt noticed.
In the end it all becomes problematic, since, as my colleague acknowledged, her work was not peer-reviewed. While it is up to essay-writers and teachers to make use of academic sources, this comes back to some of my last post’s concerns. Digital historians need not only to develop their methods of open-source review, and publications with online journals—establish themselves in the face of ‘traditional’, paper historians as legitimate, but they need to establish themselves with the online community. Market their online journals and WIPs as the place students should be going for their online secondary research.
Part of our traditional training as history students forces us to consider and scrutinize over validity, credibility, etc.; this should be no different when teaching history using the digital realm.