More than powerpointsPosted: August 31, 2011
In “The Manifesto,” students explain that teaching digital humanities to undergraduates is important because “it gives insight not only into the humanities but also into how the onset of technology has changed our world, and how we can change with it.” This explanation clearly defines digital humanities as an area of study that helps scholars understand the humanities more fully. Their statement further argues that technology has changed our world and asks how we can change with it. I think this question of change is crucial to the area of digital humanities. Especially within the older generation of scholars, dissemination of knowledge and scholarly collaboration has to change with technology.
Right now, there is a disconnect between technology available and what technology is actually used in the classroom. Even at Emory, there are professors who do not accept soft copies of papers, use blackboard or e-mail to post grades, or know what a learnlink conference is. I can’t imagine the time and money that would be saved if I could submit all my papers online. How helpful would it be if every class had a conference where students could easily post homework questions or discuss projects rather than only communicating with people in the class whose e-mail addresses you already know? Increased use of the readily available technology at Emory would not only make life more convenient, but would increase collaboration and overall learning.
If all professors knew how to use the basic technology and utilized it properly, opportunities would open for classrooms to integrate even more advanced technology. Instead of paying an author to come speak, why not set up a Skype date with the author where students can ask questions and simultaneously record it to show to future classes? For example, last year in wind ensemble, we were able to Skype with the composer of one of our pieces who gave comments on our playing. Without even leaving her house, she was able to make sure that her work of art was played the way she intended it to be played. What if we used blogs with more than just students in our class at Emory? If we collaborated with students from different universities on similar subjects, we as a scholarly community could learn much more than we currently do with the 30 people sitting in the physical classroom.
The internet can be used for so much more than digital textbooks and other ways to present information. As a generation, we should work harder to use the technology in place to increase our knowledge base, rather than simply integrate powerpoints into traditional lectures and continue to learn and grow with new technology.