See the results of and comments about this panel and another Digital Pedagogy panel at the MLA. Was really grand: Storify by Roger Whitson. See also the DH Commons reflections about nascent digi-curious responses to digital pedagogy. (1/8/2012)

A full house at the Digital Pedagogy Poster Session

dig ped
Kathy Harris' Digital Pedagogy session: animated conversationscc Kathi Inman Berens (#mla12 flickr set)

and another with Paul Fyfe, Kathi Inman Berens

UPDATE (10/3/11):

This note from MLA Executive Director, Rosemary Feal (@rgfeal), sent to notify us that our panel has been selected as part of MLA President Berman’s theme on “Language, Literature, & Learning”:

Thank you for submitting your convention session, 349: Digital Pedagogy, for possible inclusion in the brochure on this year’s presidential theme, “Language, Literature, Learning.” I am pleased to tell you that Russell A. Berman has decided to include your session. The brochure listing these sessions will be available at the 2012 convention and on the MLA Web site later this month.

Great news for our session and its format (poster session instead of the roundtable or panel). Huzzah!! Congratulations to all of the participants!

Full descriptions for each participant’s project are appended below the general description.


We did it! The Digital Pedagogy Electronic Roundtable proposal for MLA 2012 in Seattle was accepted by the program committee! We skewed the numbers somewhat and included 8 presenters with me as the moderator.  Thanks to Bethany Nowviskie’s efforts last year, the number of presenters + moderator was acceptable to this year’s MLA.  I’m ecstatic!

The decision about whom to include in the panel was incredibly difficult considering how many proposals were submitted from various instructors, institutions, and perspectives. In fact, there were enough proposals in a particular area of pedagogy to cluster them into a second panel that was then organized and submitted by Brian Croxall (@briancroxall) and Kathi Berens (@kathiiberens) who are waiting for news on their proposal. will be offering an incredible array of digital poster projects on GIS and mapping: “Building Digital Humanities in the Undergraduate Classroom.”

When the proposal acceptances began going out, the Twitter-stream lit up with felicitations. Within minutes, Rosemary Feal (@mlaconvention) was tweeting congratulations and encouraging others to sit tight for the next 2 weeks until all emails could be delivered.

Below are the super duper set of projects, assignments, students that will be presented in Seattle this January by some fairly super duper people:

Digital Pedagogy: An Electronic Roundtable

At the 2011 MLA Convention, there was much ado about Digital Humanities – from Pannapacker’s article in The Chronicle of Higher Education to the Twitter backchannel. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, who organized “The History and Future of Digital Humanities” Roundtable at MLA 2011, gathered myself, Steve Ramsay, Tara McPherson, Brett Bobley, Bethany Nowviskie, and Alan Liu to discuss all facets of Digital Humanities, including pedagogy and the alternate academic career path. The tweets and blogging that ensued from this discussion exploded the conversation outside of the confines of the room and into weeks after the conclusion of the conference, including Matt Kirschenbaum’s historicizing of Digital Humanities for an ADE article and Steve Ramsay’s follow-up to the cool kids party talk.

Even with all of this theorizing about the relevance of Digital Humanities to scholarship, pedagogy, research, and service, as was discussed repeatedly at the 2011 MLA Convention panels, during informal hallway discussions, and across academia, it still remains difficult to integrate the “digital” into the undergraduate and graduate curriculum.

Many faculty offer their Digital Humanities-focused syllabi for public consumption, but explanations of teaching strategies, student learning goals, outcomes, successes, and failures have not been the focus of peer-reviewed publications. Cathy Davidson, Duke University, is one of the few faculty who pushes the pedagogical boundaries for teaching with and about Digital Humanities by blogging goals, successes, and failures throughout the semester – the very kind of narrative and assessment that is valuable to all faculty across various types of institutions. Project Bamboo and the Mellon Foundation have responded to the need for a pedagogy focus in Digital Humanities, but have not yet produced an infrastructure for facilitating this type of exchange. CUNY’s Academic Commons is a direct response to these types of teacher-scholar issues and allows virtual collaboration across 18 campuses. DHAnswers also very specifically responds to this call for an online community with a category labelled DH in the Classroom. The 2009, 2010 and 2011 Day in the Life Project encouraged participants to write about teaching days. Period-specific organizations are also resorting to this type of online community. The 2011 Digital Humanities Conference will offer a workshop on constructing DH-focused syllabi. A Zotero group for Digital Humanities syllabi, Digital Research Tools Wiki, and perhaps Merlot are the few resources for pedagogy in Digital Humanities. All of this information exchange requires crowd-sourcing, collaboration, and community. But none of it is centralized or accumulated into a format that allows for interdisciplinary explorations of teaching strategies, sharing teaching materials, or assessing Digital Humanities curriculum.

The issue is not necessarily with Digital Humanities; instead, we need a better way to collaborate on teaching-intensive issues. 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 process pieces for DH in the classroom, it is more amenable to see actual syllabi or assignment language assessing the successes and failures of an assignment. And, to highlight that failure is productive, not necessarily the end of an experiment.

In light of the success of the 2011 MLA electronic roundtable on “New (and Renewed) Work in Digital Literary Studies,” sponsored by the Association for Computers and the Humanities, this electronic roundtable for MLA 2012 proposes to offer demonstrations and casual conversations about teaching strategies. If accepted, the roundtable will offer varying, divergent points of view on digital pedagogy, from using digital tools in a traditional curriculum to implementing paperless classrooms in a Digital Humanities-focused course. Each presenter will demonstrate how these digital resources, tools, and projects have been integrated into undergraduate and graduate curriculum in alignment with the MLA 2012 Presidential Theme: Language, Literature, Learning. Brief introductions will be followed by simultaneous demonstrations of the presenters’ work at eight computer stations.

Station 1: Roger Whitson (on facilitating undergraduate collaboration using Twitter and GoogleDocs in a traditional literary curriculum)

Station 2: Katherine Singer (on creating, facilitating and grading a TEI assignment in undergraduate literary curriculum)

Station 3: Elizabeth Chang (on revising student learning goals with digital tools for an undergraduate capstone course)

Station 4: Adeline Koh (on creating an undergraduate student-centered digital resource for research on postcolonial studies)

Station 5: Kevin Quarmby and Sheila Cavanagh (on Skype, iPads as central technologies to investigate Shakespearean stage and page in a distance-learning undergraduate curriculum)

Station 6: Lori Emerson (on using the Archeological Media Lab to teach learning as “tinkering” in graduate and undergraduate curriculum)

Station 7: Kerry Kilner (on a study of the successes and failures in revising research methods courses to include digitally-focused methods)

Station 7 (replacement): Sara Steger & Jessica Murphy (on The Digital Humanities Pedagogy Project)

Station 8: John Lennon (on building a public, polytechnic university)

Presenters, from a broad range of institutions with a range of contexts and budget demands, will demonstrate pedagogical issues that are based on a cross-spectrum of styles, classrooms, student experience, successes, and failures. By engaging in individual conversations with attendees about Digital Humanities’ strategies as it pertains to Humanities curriculum in general – presenters invite the Humanities to evolve according to our students’ needs and the changing face of technology and education.


Presenters’ Projects in Full

Station 1: Roger Whitson, Annotating the Paperless Classroom: Collaboration and the Individual Reader

What does it really mean, pedagogically, to create a paperless classroom? Recently on the NASSR-L listserv, Adam Komisaruk initiated a conversation about the possibility of “going paperless” and relying entirely on digital resources for a course on William Blake. Several of the respondents replied that such a move was not practical, as students would not have the ability to annotate digital texts in the same way they can annotate print texts. I want to suggest that the difficulty of creating a paperless classroom can challenge some of the assumptions we make as teachers of literature. For example, the idea that reading should be practiced by an individual who makes private marginal comments. Two digital applications have been particularly useful to me in rethinking the annotation and in my ongoing quest to create a paperless classroom: GoogleDocs and Twitter.

For my recent class on “William Blake and Media,” I had my students engage with Blake’s poem Milton. As with many of Blake’s later prophecies, Milton is extremely difficult: layered with complex symbols and – as Johnson and Grant argue in their introduction to the poem in Blake’s Poetry and Designs – counterintuitive approaches to character and plot. I had tried teaching the poem several times in the past and found it almost impossible to have a productive conversation with my undergrads. This time, I asked them to tweet their reading of Milton. For each class session, they were to submit at least 10 tweets that made a claim, asked a question, or answered another student’s question. Further, I had my students create a collaborative guide of major characters, concepts, places, and objects in Blake’s poem on GoogleDocs. GoogleDocs allows multiple editors to revise a document simultaneously. In the initial stages of composing the document, students relied heavily on notes and annotations found in the Johnson and Grant edition of Blake’s work and in S. Foster Damon’s A Blake Dictionary. Yet, as students revised the document, they became more confident in their collective intelligence and offered definitions that would challenge those made by professional Blake scholars. I argue that the collaborative model found in digital applications like Twitter and GoogleDocs transforms the private space of the annotation into an interactive conversation that makes difficult literary works – like Blake’s Milton – more accessible to undergraduates.

Station 2: Katherine Singer, Digital Close Reading:  TEI for Undergraduates

If we take seriously Stephen Ramsey’s recent call to arms at the 2010 MLA that Digital Humanities means making something, then it behooves us to teach coding early and often.  As part of an upper-level undergraduate seminar at Mount Holyoke College, my students set about building a TEI digital edition of Melesina Trench’s “Laura’s Dream; or the Moonlanders,” perhaps the first science fiction text written by a woman.  We did this in the context of a course on “Feminist Poetics” of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the reasons for integrating digital technology into the course were three-fold.   First, since women’s writing during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was partly recovered through digital technology, some class materials were digital and helped us to reflect on textuality past and present.  Second, while many of these sites were originally built for scholars, it seemed time to consider what kinds of coding and interfaces might work best for students.  Finally, in a course designed to think carefully about poetic literary terms, TEI seemed like a wonderful way to teach hands-on close reading, and we discussed how its descriptive terminology could present another way to parse and theorize texts.

After spending the first few weeks discussing the benefits and problems of several digital editions used, we devoted small portion of a three-hour class to an introduction of text encoding.  During the next class, we moved to a library classroom where each computer had Oxygen pre-loaded.  After an hour reading the poem as in any other class, we moved through a series of three exercises to learn the basics of TEI lines and line groups, persons and places, and figurative strings, which formed the basis for their digital project.  Students placed in small groups had a month to tag fifty lines, with the help of a student mentor during lab hours.  Grading was split into several pieces:  accuracy of coding, creativity with tags such as seg@ana, and reflection through a short prose piece submitted with their tagged text.  The end result was displayed with a CSS stylesheet color-coded to visualize encoding trends, aiding a final discussion on markup choices.

Station 3: Elizabeth Chang, Capstone Experience of Victorian Literature Wiki

I propose to demonstrate the wiki, library guide, and blog created by the senior English majors enrolled in my Spring 2011 course on Victorian Periodical Fiction. The course, which fulfilled the university’s general education requirement for a “Capstone Experience,” was required to: “bring reflection and focus to the whole of the college experience… encourage students to integrate facets of their area of concentration with important concepts from related disciplines… focus on some feature of the student’s area of concentration and…require the disciplined use of skills, methodology, and knowledge taught throughout the undergraduate curriculum.” Charged with this goal, I worked with the students to create a wiki that could fulfill multiple aims. First, it would serve as an anthology and learning center for beginning English majors enrolled in the second half of the British Literature survey by presenting short fiction from Victorian periodicals contextualized by biographical, historical, and publication research. Second, it would allow the students to use the library’s special collections holdings in Victorian periodicals to pursue independent research on fiction published during the nineteenth century. Third, it would allow the students to professionalize by developing skills in project management, information presentation, collaborative writing and editing, and oral presentation, as well as other specific skills and tasks chosen by the students (coding, graphic design, etc.) And fourth, it would allow me to work closely with the Humanities Librarian on the creation of a library guide that supported student research in both print and digital forms. While the creation of a digital archive of print resources is not new, the specific target audience of fellow English majors and the challenges involved in working with multiple units on a large campus for a novel project make this experience a useful model.

Here are links to the pertinent websites:

Station 4: Adeline Koh, The Stockton Postcolonial Studies Project”

This presentation will focus on the production of the Stockton Postcolonial Studies Project (  I started working on the Project in Fall 2010. The goal of the Project is to create an undergraduate student-centered digital resource for research on postcolonial studies. Students contribute projects to the website under the umbrella of independent studies and small research-based summer classes.

The Project features various projects on postcolonialism that revolve around a changing yearly theme. I am currently overseeing the development of several student projects on postcolonial feminism (under the 2010-2011 theme ‘Digitizing Postcolonial Feminism.’) This includes a comparative study of kitchens and domesticity in the Nigerian novelPurple Hibiscus and the recent blog/filmJulie and Julia. Another ongoing project is a comparative study of clothing and feminism in the graphic novelsPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi andFun Home by Alison Bechdel.

There are several pedagogical goals to the Stockton Postcolonial Studies Project: to encourage students to think about the readability and accessibility of postcolonial studies research, and for them to learn different electronic tools for the presentation of their research (WordPress, Zotero, Timeline 3D, Youtube, Prezi). Students begin working on the project knowing that their eventual objective is to produce readable, engaging, and well-researched content for a website. Because of this, they have to consider how presenting information on a website differs quite a great deal than a traditional research paper. They are also asked to consider how their project will be read on e-readers, which encourages them to think about how the shape of reading is going to rapidly change.

In this presentation I will speak about the pedagogical objectives of the Project, about some of the challenges and successes I have faced, and about future plans for the Project.

Station 5: Kevin Quarmby and Sheila Cavanagh, From Type to Skype: Shakespeare in the Digital Age and Beyond

This presentation is proposed by Dr. Kevin Quarmby of Shakespeare’s Globe in London and Dr. Sheila Cavanagh of Emory University in Atlanta.  We co-teach a Shakespeare course at Emory (Dr. Quarmby remains in London), incorporating Skype and iPads as central technological features.  Our disparate, yet complementary, backgrounds allow us to engage with Shakespeare’s texts from multifaceted literary and theatrical perspectives.  In this talk/demonstration, we plan to investigate the ways that our digital collaboration simultaneously highlights the convergence and the separation between Shakespeare’s plays as literary and theatrical documents.  Technology makes our pedagogical partnership possible; it also prompts regular discussions about the familiar, yet vexed, relationship between Shakespearean “stage” and “page.” Quarmby’s Skype workshops bring Shakespeare’s Globe into the classroom in Atlanta.  For instance, students learn, then imitate, the rehearsal processes from the Globe and the Royal Shakespeare Company, as they explore the plays from the perspective of an actor. iPads are added to the course during the second half of the term.  These are preloaded with texts and clips covering a range of performance and textual topics. For the study of Henry V, for instance, the iPads  include historical materials as well as examples of famous actors presenting key speeches. The iPads are designed to supplement the material offered by Cavanagh and Quarmby during the term.

In our Roundtable presentation, we will contextualize our classroom experience within current pedagogical and digital research, including topics such as experiential learning in literary classrooms; the balance of authority in co-taught and electronic courses; the different cognitive processes experienced by those “born analogue” and those “born digital;” and considerations about disciplinary boundaries.  As time allows, we will also address other pertinent practical, philosophical, social, cognitive, and financial aspects of electronic Shakespearean pedagogy.

Station 6: Lori Emerson, Learning through Tinkering: the Archeological Media Lab

This contribution consists of a brief introduction to the Archeological Media Lab that I curate, followed by a discussion of the ways in which I incorporate the lab’s holdings into my classes as a way to teach students what learning as tinkering looks like. Here I use “tinker” as a way to signal a means by which to learn what Noah Wardrip-Fruin calls “procedural literacy” – in other words, students learn underlying computer processes through active doing and making.

Nearly all digital media labs are conceived of as a place for experimental research using the most up-to-date, cutting-edge tools available. However, this lab – which is, as far as I know, one of very few of its kind in North America – is a place for cross-disciplinary experimental research and teaching using the tools, the software and platforms, from the past. Thus, one of the ways in which I incorporate the lab’s holdings into my classes is by using its out-dated computers to teach students a curiosity-driven process of tinkering. I exploit the charm, the foreignness, and the relative simplicity of the Commodore 64, the Vectrex gaming console, or the Apple IIe as a way to persuade English majors not only that a working knowledge of computing and programming is in fact within their reach but that it is possible for them to further become makers and creators themselves. Just this past year, one of the most successful instances of learning through tinkering came when I brought my junior and senior-level Digital Poetry students to my lab and introduced them to Canadian poet bpNichol’s First Screening on the Apple IIe. First Screening is a series of poems written in the Apple BASIC programming language – poems whose meaning is actually activated through the writer/programmer’s invitation to the reader/view to type in commands. Introducing students to “First Screening” both on its original platform and via its BASIC source code on the one hand invites students to approach the command-line interface with a sense of curiosity and play; and on the other hand, the piece also quietly introduces them to the basics of programming and even emboldens them to change the source code to thereby create their own BASIC remix or response to “First Screening.”

Station 7: Sara Steger & Jessica Murphy

 As PIs for the DH Pedagogy Project, we are particularly interested in the proposed digital pedagogy roundtable.  As participants in the panel, we would share our plans to develop tools for sharing, rating, collecting, and evaluating readings and assignments for use in digital humanities and new media classrooms. Our project will involve the creation of a community-based platform that collects syllabus information from scholars and teachers. Working from the “you may also like” model, the project will enable users to search the database of syllabi by topic, author, article, and/or media format.

The project arose out of out collective experiences of and frustrations with developing syllabi for courses with a focus on digital humanities.  We became interested in crowd-sourcing ideas for texts, tools, and assignments for specific units or an entire syllabus. The contingent nature of social networks and the ephemeral nature of these online exchanges fails to capture this valuable information in a lasting form.  We seek to build a persistent repository of information that brings together the best functions of syllabus databases, book cataloging sites, social networks, and mind-mapping tools.

While our project focuses explicitly on pedagogy in the field of digital humanities, we see much overlap between the tools that digital humanists use in the classroom and the tools that are used in the more generalized “digital classroom.” As such, we would use the electronic roundtable as an opportunity to engage other scholars in informal discussion about the best ways to aggregate, mark up, evaluate, and deliver the resources we collect.  Indeed, this kind of collaboration is central to our project: we seek to first consult with researchers and teachers to envision what a pedagogy-sharing system should be (rather than simply starting with an off-the-shelf technology and inheriting that technology’s assumptions about the nature of knowledge and community).

Station 8: John Lennon, What is a 21stcentury Polytechnic University? Or, digitally archiving the philosophical mortar of USFP’s new campus

“What is a 21st century Polytechnic University?” is a project designed to empower students to simultaneously dream about the possibilities of their education as they learn the practical applied skills of being “citizen journalists” by creating and maintaining a digital archive that creatively answers this question. The University of South Florida Polytechnic is at an exciting moment in its young life: while currently sharing a campus with Polk State College, it has begun breaking ground on a new campus for the state’s “first and only” public polytechnic university.  While there is much administrative and faculty excitement about the new campus, as we discuss the possibilities of this new university with community members and students, they feel isolated and unsure of our educational endeavor. This project is therefore about giving an active voice to these groups that will help shape the institutional philosophy of our new university.

There have not been many opportunities in the past fifty years of universities being built from scratch. This timely project, then, is designed to do three things simultaneously: 1) Create an imaginative environment where students are becoming digital archivists, learning both how to document and digitally archive a rich resource of material. This student produced freely accessed archive will have invaluable raw data that future historians and educational reformers. 2) Facilitate lasting relationships with members of the local community as students interview community members, allowing them to be participants in the discussion of the evolving mission of USFP.  Simultaneously, it will allow perspective international students from India and China to add their views via twitter which will be embedded in our archive 3) Have students  investigate the very philosophical nature of the  polytechnic education that they are receiving, producing digital documents (short group films) that will expand the idea of the polytechnic in democratic, imaginative ways. By creating a student produced digital archive that houses both uploaded raw footage and polished documents containing (inter)national perspectives of what a polytechnic university could be,  this on-going project will have a direct effect on what a 21st century polytechnic will be.

This year long project (the initial phase before it (possibly) becomes part of our General Education program) will begin in the Fall of 2011. By the time of the MLA convention, I will have the archive up and running and it would be truly exciting to discuss my project (both its initial success and also setbacks) with like-minded scholars.