With this post I join a community of digital history teachers taking the course “Teaching History in the Digital Age” at George Mason University this summer. By way of introduction I teach at Normandale Community College and this course is part of my sabbatical plan. I did my PhD in history at the University of Minnesota, focussing on women’s lives in early modern Valladolid, Spain. For a couple years I worked as a corporate archivist and historian for a medical device company. I live in Minneapolis.
Like some of you, I stumbled into digital humanities in the course of teaching. I hope to refine my pedagogy to better reflect the scholarship of teaching and learning as it relates to history. Of particular interest is how to teach with the evolving tools of digital history to large numbers of students, with highly differentiated preparations, and many of whom are poor. There’s nothing new about community colleges addressing this student population, but digital history frequently brings a new set of challenges to the fore. For example, many dh tools are online and free, but websites become unresponsive when faced with 40 or more interrogations of their data. I feel confident that I will be able to find technical solutions to problems, yet I hope this course can help me sift better from best of the tested methods for teaching digital history.
I am convinced that the tools, skills, and information-sorting mindset of digital history deserves to be taught at the survey level as it is there is where it can provide the greatest good. My commitment to teaching digital history springs culturally from geekdom and social justice. I hope that this course in, in its readings and learning from others, will help me refine my surveys to better serve my students.