This is an ongoing idea/critique about pedagogy and Digital Humanties, one that doesn’t have enough airtime from my type of institution. (And I’m feeling very cantankerous lately.) So, I’m logging a conversation in my research blog to keep track of my thoughts on this topic. (When my latest book project is done, I will return to these ideas to see if I can amass a cogent article out of this mishmosh):
I’ve been watching the #tilts tweets from the Texas Institute for Literary & Textual Studies. Three symposia were planned for 2011, one of which happened over a March weekend — the one focusing on Digital Humanities, Teaching and Learning. From afar, across Twitter, it seemed that the conversation didn’t really focus on pedagogy, a turn that has been endemic to conversations in Digital Humanities. Julia Flanders, Amy Earhart, Rebecca Frost Davis, Jeremy Douglas and others highlighted ideas about a collaborative classroom experience using the tenets of Digital Humanities, but other tweets seemed to focus on infrastructure. (And, let me note here, though Twitter is a fantastic backchannel, it doesn’t always capture the conversation, passion, breadth and excitement of the room.)
At one point, there was a call for ProfHacker.com to offer reviews of the tools listed on DIRT, or to have graduate students write those reviews. (Note: my undergraduate honors DHers did this in Fall 2010 but it’s difficult to find a location where these can be broadcast.)
I would like to see more process pieces about DH in the classroom — more publications or videos. Something more dynamic than leaving the pedagogy at the conference in a face-to-face conversation. The recent open-access collection, Learning Through Digital Media, is a great start, but it’s focused on explanations in print when the classroom is much more dynamic. In this age when we must conform to the administration’s call for assessment, in these process pieces for DH in the classroom, it would be helpful to offer language, actual syllabus or assignment language assessing the successes and failures of the assignment. And, to highlight that failure is productive, not necessarily, well, the end of an experiment.
I think ProfHacker has been fabulous, but I suspect that many people write those articles and then post them in the community service area of their CVs. Is perhaps the issue also that DH needs to help change old-fashioned T&P for what counts? [But, then I would be going against my call to Digital Humanities to stop saving everyone and just get to work.] Pedagogy and process articles should count; considering that lots of DH happens at research-intensive universities, I suspect that these kinds of articles don’t count. But, we need more. I need more from my colleagues. My students need more from me if we’re to be playful and successful in our DH endeavors. But, with workloads increasing, I want to do what I’ve always done: ask my colleagues at large for help with assignments, specific assignments.
There seems to be a defensiveness among all of us about workload issues — as if we all need to prove that we’re busy, over-tired, and over-worked. I accept that. I’ll put my 4-4, 4-prep load up against anyone, any day. But, I’ll also come to the table to talk to someone who’s teaching 2-2 with more 150 students per section. Let’s collaborate instead of engaging in a pissing match.