Thursday, 16 April 2015

Last Post

This will be my last post of the bunch, and serves to reflect on the course as a whole.

The very idea of the course is bold, and to some extent I think the structure of the course mirrors the current relationship between the humanities and the digital world. It's a little bit loose, but that is only because of the enormous opportunities that already exist, and the many more that will develop with time.

Through the course we learned a handful of useful tools that we may very well use again in our future careers, whether that be something like GIS or learning to navigate immense databases such as those behing Google's n-grams.

The classroom and lectures were typically fairly interesting and engaging, even during the first few lessons which mostly served to briefly cover the history of digital humanities. I may have been a little more knowledgeable about the development of the internet than most of my peers, but I think all of us learned a great deal from that part of the course, and beyond.

I think the course could deal with somewhat less of a student-driven learning focus, though it is still essentially to keep that as a strong element in a topic as broad as this. Like it or not, this class does exist in a somewhat less forgiving academic structure, and having more constant direction and feedback at least gives us some sense of our standing in the class. Leaving the capstone project largely in the hands of the students would be enough student-driven learning to let us pursue our own ideas about what digital humanities means, but I think better defining blog participation would help to keep the course grounded.

It may even be better to move away from the blog structure, and explore other opportunities that maybe encourage a little more interaction between students. Forums seem to be going the way of the dinosaur, but they come to mind as better system for sharing, discussion, and debate. If nothing else, you can set up something like that in courselink, though perhaps courselink debates stir up too many bad memories of awful online courses.

Alternatively, adding more weekly blog assignments would be an easy way to address this situation. The ones we were assigned seemed to encourage students to get the work done on time, while semi-voluntary participation leads to events where the student realizes just how little they've actually done compared to what they thought they did, and tries to fit a bunch in at once. (Who would do that? I mean really...)

These assignments don't always have to focus on a new tool that we've learned, and could be as simple as finding a recent news article relevant to digital humanities and tossing up a 5-600 word post interpreting it.

As it is, it's still a great class even without any of the improvements I've mulled over here, but I think they're worth keeping in mind. A little bit of direction helps to keep students focused, and regular marks let us know if we're actually grasping the material and engaging with the content as we should be.

Signing off (probably),

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