Archive for May, 2012

A Digital Pedagogy Unconference at MLA13: Join Us!

[This has been cross-posted at Adeline Koh’s website, http://www.adelinekoh.org/.]

Adeline and I are thrilled to announce that we’ll be holding an “unconference” on digital pedagogy as a preconference workshop for the Modern Language Association Annual Meeting in 2013.

What are “Unconferences”?

The ten-year old unconference format emerged as a response to weaknesses of the traditional conference presentation. Unconferences are participant-driven gatherings where attendees spontaneously generate the itinerary. Perhaps the best example of the unconference format in the humanities thus far has been the THATCamps which originated at the Center of History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University. The growth of interest in the unconference format within the humanities can be seen by the exponential growth of THATCamps, from one event in 2008, to three in 2009, to twenty-six in 2011.

Why an “Unconference”?

For the last several years, the MLA conference has increasingly welcomed new styles of presentation such as lightning talks and electronic roundtables, all aimed at increasing interactive discussion among the attendees. The organization continues to call for more change. In the Spring 2012 MLA Newsletter (PDF), both the MLA’s Program Committee and its Executive Director encouraged MLA members to consider new forms of presentations for the upcoming convention in Boston.

Our three-hour “unconference” on the subject of digital pedagogy is an attempt to answer this call to re-envision the conference format and introduce yet one more form of presentation at the annual Convention.

Hold an unconference

Unconference Theme: Digital Pedagogy

Attendees of our Digital Pedagogy Unconference will consider: what would you like to learn and instruct others about teaching with technology?

While interest in digital pedagogy has grown along with the rise of the digital humanities, these two fields are not identical. Although all instructors are being increasingly encouraged to incorporate technology into their pedagogy, not all of these instructors may want to become digital humanists. As such, digital pedagogy has a broad application for scholars of language and literature.

More Soon!

  • We expect to offer 50 seats for the unconference workshop and to charge a small fee to sign up.
  • Expect a website for the unconference to be forthcoming in the summer/fall of 2012, with more details and instructions about how to sign up.

We’re both incredibly excited, and hope you’ll join us there!

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New Job; or, If Digital Humanities is a Game, I Prefer Tactics

I’m pleased to announce that I have accepted a position as Digital Humanities Strategist in Emory’s Digital Scholarship Commons. In this role, which I’ll begin on 1 July, I’ll continue my work to establish our Mellon Foundation-funded center, to manage and develop digital humanities projects, and to work for shifts in the training of both undergraduate and graduate students in the humanities. This position will build on the work that I’ve done in the Robert W. Woodruff Library over the last two years of my CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship.

I’ve often said that the CLIR Postdoc is an alt-ac experience, and perhaps the most exciting thing about my new job is that it’s truly a hybrid position. I hold a joint appointment as a Lecturer in Emory’s English Department and College. I will be teaching one class per year and am a full member of the faculty for purposes of governance. Posts like mine are very unusual for universities, and I’m proud to see Emory taking a lead in this way.

I believe such hybrid positions are in many ways the future of higher education; if we want to help graduate students, in particular, think more broadly about what they can do with their degree, then we need to have them see people working jobs that aren’t just tenured and tenure-track faculty members. They need to have more visions of their possible futures and to have them in their departments. I am hopeful that the classes I teach in digital humanities will help grow new scholars, who are equally at home in the tenure or alt-ac tracks or who can find new ways to apply their humanities training to any job, whether associated with the academy or not.

Achieving all of these goals will certainly require a long-term strategy. And while I like a game of Civilization as much as the next kid who came of age in the early 1990s, I think our situation–in the digital humanities and at Emory–is much closer to a match of Starcraft. While we need a long-term vision, what will really win the day is tactics, as we constantly adjust our work to a rapidly developing field and a whole new range of scholarly communication patterns. Running and gunning is what we’ve been doing in digital humanities for the last several years, and I don’t foresee it changing. So while my card will read “Strategist,” feel free to replace that with “Tactician.”

I’ve been affiliated with Emory for 10 years now. Time to get started on the next decade.

(EDITED to correct the missing sentence fragments.)

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Theses on the Open Humanities

On 25 and 26 April, Roger Whitson and I had the opportunity to visit the University of Florida on the invitation of Laurie N. Taylor, Digital Humanities Librarian in the George A. Smathers Libraries. We had the opportunity to learn about the work of UF’s Digital Collections and attended UF’s Research Computing Day, where got to see the some of the work done by UF’S High-Performance Computing Center. On the way to the latter, we stopped in at the protest about the proposal to eliminate UF’s Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering, signed petitions, and offered to take any willing computer scientists back to Emory with us.

The following day, we had the opportunity to attend UF’s Spring 2012 Interface Faculty Seminar and first Digital Humanities Day. We heard about different pedagogical strategies being deployed in courses across the university, including social media, wikis, and resources for sharing pedagogical materials. We also heard from about some innovative and long-running digital humanities initiatives at UF, including the amazing Digital Epigraphy Toolbox, which will allow scholars around the world to preserve epigraphic inscriptions using a simple desktop scanner.

Roger and I were flattered to be asked to deliver the keynote for the Interface + Digital Humanities Day event. Given the theme of the event–Open Resources, Open Possibilities–we decided to be as polemical as we could and titled our talk “Theses on the Open Humanities.” We couldn’t find anything to nail them to, alas.

It was an interesting experience for us to figure out how we would compose and deliver a joint keynote. What we didn’t think would be a problem was the Twitter backchannel. In a desire to make the talk as open as possible, we reached out to colleagues to watch the live stream of the event and to tweet along with the talk and the participants in Florida. Unfortunately, our first hashtag got deluged by spammers. As did the second hashtag. We managed to make it through the rest of the talk on the third hashtag. If you want to see the archived Twitter conversations, Roger captured them (sans spam) via Storify.

Our address has likewise been archived, so you can watch us and our slides. In the interest of making the presentation as accessible as possible, however, we decided to cross-post an approximation of the presentation on our blogs, along with our slides.

Read the rest of this entry »

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28 Days (or Months) Later

As someone who went to grad school in large part due to a fascination with Derrida, I perhaps shouldn’t be surprised that so much of academia seems to be about deferral. Nevertheless I’m always surprised to see something that I wrote months or years ago show up, out of the blue, in its finished form. That happened last week, when I got the print version of an essay I was invited to write for The Academic Exchange, “A Forum for Emory Faculty, Work, Life, and Thought.” My piece, “An Experiment in Progress” (PDF) looks at the relationship between libraries, digital scholarship, teaching, and undergraduate research. Along the way, I talk about the final project for my course “Introduction to Digital Humanities” and several of the projects that we’ve been working on in DiSC this year. If you can’t wait to see the launch of the projects and don’t mind spoilers, you’ll want to take a look!

I was also recently notified that the Twitter assignment that I designed in 2008 for a class at Emory and revised for inclusion in a Spring 2010 course at Clemson has been cited in a white paper (PDF) from OnlineCollege.org. (Talk about zombies/deferral…) True to the white paper’s title–“Implementing Live Twitter Chat Discussion Sessions”–it gives an introduction to Twitter and how it might be used in the classroom or for conducting larger events, like #FYCchat. If you’ve never used Twitter, I’d perhaps recommend starting with a ProfHacker post or two, but this white paper might give you some different strategies aimed particularly at structuring asynchronous chats. What I find most interesting about this whole thing is how my assignment has become a resource–and a citation!–for others, simply by the fact that I’ve shared it online. As Melissa Terras has recently shown, what’s not to gain from making our work public?

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