Spending the day at PhillyDH@Penn

phillydhWritten last week…. at PhillyDH@Penn.

I’m sitting in the last session of a great day of digital humanities workshops and unconference sessions at PhillyDH@Penn. I’ve learned a few tricks and tools, but most of all it makes me not feel alone in this endeavor of using digital stuff to think about history.

A whole room full of good people joined me for the session I proposed on digital humanities curriculum for undergrads. Again, I’m not alone in trying to encourage students to try using digital tools to think historically, by blogging, curating online exhibits, organizing research materials, and working collaboratively. There’s a difference in resources available at institutions.  Some schools give more support to digital pedagogy than others. Professors at some schools, like mine, have to do their own IT support for projects on platforms outside the proprietary LMS we are licensed to use. While others, like the participants from Penn, have access to a digital media lab to support their students’ tech endeavors.

There’s a whole potential consortium of small liberal arts colleges contemplating a consortium for DH. WCU is not really a SLAC, but we do share an emphasis on undergraduate education. The participants in this session share an interest in small scale DH projects, with an emphasis on engaging undergraduate students as a legitimate form of DH research, rather than building big tools to mine data or conduct research. We are the folks that might not have big budgets or DH centers with state of the art technology, but we’re enthusiastic about imparting some of the strategies of DH learning to our students.

In terms of digitally focused research, I am inspired to get back into the archives after a useful session brainstorming ways to digitally collate research materials in efficient ways. Dylan Gottlieb, a History PhD candidate at Princeton, proposed this session as a means of exchanging useful strategies to keep one’s files, notes, and annotations organized. He has developed a streamlined approach in which he uses an app on his iPhone to make PDF images of archival documents, which he then uploads to Dropbox and links to his Zotero database. Pretty slick! See the notes from this session for a list of great tools!

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