Posts Tagged pedagogy

Notes from Pedagogy Sessions

During the two THATcampTX sessions on pedagogy, we kept collaborative notes in a google doc. you can find that google doc here: Digital Humanities Pedagogy Assignments.  It contains practical suggestions for ways to integrate technology assignments into courses, as well as a theoretical discussion of what should go into a course on digital humanities.  If you have other suggestions please post them to the doc.  We touched on proposed sessions including:

Student-Generated DH Tool Reviews

DH Pedagogy



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DH Commons

I’ve been working with a group of digital humanists from a variety of institutional types who are seeking to break down silos between large and small institutions in the world of digital humanities.  We are especially interested in how we can can help the isolated digital humanist connect with the rest of the community.

DHCommons seeks to ameliorate the isolation of digital humanists at colleges and universities without the institutional infrastructure to support digital scholarship. At a number of research institutions, digital humanities centers reduce isolation by providing technology, expertise, and mentoring to scholars. Such resources, however, are not available to many scholars, especially at smaller institutions. Lone digital humanists must independently (and repeatedly) argue for the value of their work. Their disconnection prevents them from learning about standards, resources, and ongoing projects, so that their work may not inter-operate with other projects or may reduplicate efforts. To address these challenges, DHCommons will build an inter-institutional infrastructure for digital humanities collaboration through several related innovations:
  • A new hub at will help digital humanists discover and contact potential collaborators: to find and join projects.
  • Microgrants to encourage scholars to develop curriculum in conjunction with existing projects, travel to partner digital humanities centers for training or project mentoring, etc.
  • Expertise sharing among schools without digital humanities infrastructure
Groups like CenterNet are helping by connecting centers, and THATCamps certainly help isolated digital humanists build regional ties.  DHCommons hopes to complement these efforts.  We envision a dual audience, both identified and potential digital humanists.
As we develop this idea, we are seeking the following input:
  • How does the technology and human infrastructure relate to one another?
  • Do you know of failed experiments with similar projects? (or successful ones?)
  • How do you compel and encourage participation?
  • How do we launch such a thing?
  • What would be most useful for you?
  • One idea we had was using microgrants to encourage development of curricular modules, e.g., student reviews of Tools in the DiRT wiki (which I proposed as another session)
  • What elements would the technology tool need, e.g., profile lists the tools they use, projects looking for collaboraters,etc.?
  • With what resources or hubs should this integrate, e.g., DHAnswers, etc.?
  • What kind of help would you want from such an effort?
  • What questions are we not asking?

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Student-Generated DH Tool Reviews

Last month at the TILTS symposium at the University of Texas, the twitter stream generated some discussion around the need for tool reviews, e.g., in the Digital Research Tools (DiRT) wiki.  One suggestion was to incorporate developing reviews into coursework.  I’d be interested in organizing a session that figured out how to do that.  Questions to consider include:

  • What level of student? Graduate? Undergraduate?
  • Are there criteria or templates for a good review?  For example, what projects use this tool? Can we cross-reference it with other resources, e.g., DHAnswers.
  • What methods or process could we establish to help reviewers?
  • How could we turn a review into an individual or group assignment? How do we scaffold this task?
  • Can we prioritize tools to cover?

This idea is connected with another project in which I’ve been involved, DHCommons which seeks to help isolated digital humanists.  It also may connects with some other sessions that I’ve seen proposed, e.g.,


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Procedural Rhetorics, Procedural Literacy

Procedural literacy typically involves a critical attention to the computational processes at work in digital artifacts. Our understanding of a web page shifts if we consider it not only as a multimedia and hyperlinked text but also as a rendering of code that normally remains hidden from us. Ian Bogost argues that procedural literacy need not be limited to computational processes, that this mode of literacy encourages a more general capacity for mapping and reconfiguring systems of processes, logics, and rules. This expansive sense of procedural literacy resonates with James Paul Gee’s investment in “active learning,” an approach to education that emphasizes social practices rather than content as a static entity. Both procedural literacy and active learning highlight the importance of engaging texts (broadly defined) as embodiments of dynamic processes and configurations. Procedural rhetoric more specifically refers to the way that a text can be expressive and persuasive with reference to the procedures it embodies (Bogost privileges video games as examples of procedural rhetorics).

I would be interested in a session that considers the possibilities for teaching procedural literacy and procedural rhetorics as well as incorporating them into scholarly work. Areas of inquiry like critical code studies and video game studies would be one possible focus, but I imagine that the session could be more inclusive and expansive. For example, “digging into data” projects seem to require procedural literacy to establish algorithms through which to read texts. An algorithm functions as a sort of procedural argument: “this is a valid and helpful way to reconfigure these texts.” A recent article argued for reading David Simon’s The Wire as a sort of video game, a show deeply invested in attending to the logics and processes defining Baltimore’s drug trade and various institutional responses to it. In this sense, procedurality might be a useful concept for areas of inquiry that take us outside of the digital humanities proper.

My own interests have led me to focus on the intersection of rhetoric and video games (see the Digital Writing and Research Lab’s Rhetorical Peaks project), but I would be very interested to hear how others incorporate notions of procedurality, procedural literacy, and procedural rhetoric into their research and pedagogy.

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