Now that I’m back in my old department (after four years in administration) I’m back up to a full teaching load and I’m happy that this semester is an all digital, all the time semester. That does not mean that I’m teaching online. Far from it. Instead, it means that both of my regularly constituted undergraduate courses and the readings uncourse I’m conducting with four of our PhD students all have heavy digital components. In fact, all three are organized around digital history.
The first of my undergrad courses is my version of our historical methods seminar. I call the class “Dead in Virginia” because we’re using local family cemeteries as the starting point for our learning about historical methods. The digital component of the course is built around an Omeka installation in which the students will deposit the results of their research and through which they will build their final presentations. As the syllabus makes clear, the focus of the course is learning historical methods through actual historical research. This is the second time I’ve taught the course and I’m looking forward to it very much.
The second undergrad course this semester is our newish course designed to meet the university’s general education IT literacy requirement. Long-time readers of this blog will remember that several years ago I was engaged in a long running stand off with our general education committee over the approval of this course. Well, the course was approved at last and has been taught twice by Dan Cohen, and once by Amanda French. I’m teaching it for the first time and have a few tricks up my sleeve, none of which is reflected in the syllabus, which is heavily derived from Dan’s and Amanda’s…at least this first time through. Sharon Leon is also teaching the class this semester and her version is different from mine, which will give us a chance to compare notes throughout the term.
Finally, I’m teaching a small group of our PhD students in a modified version of my grad course Teaching History in the Digital Age…modified because we’re meeting in as a small group around a table at CHNM rather than in a formal course setting. Our work this semester will be built around the Zotero group of the same name that students in my grad course have been building over the past few years. You can follow along if you like by signing on to the group. For now, it’s not open to outside editing, but my plan is to open it to the world after the semester to try to build a much larger and more comprehensive annotated bibliography of sources on teaching history in these digital times.
I’m very glad that my reconnection to full time teaching is so heavily digital. While I was making the final edits to my forthcoming book, I had a lot of time to think about teaching digital history, but because of my administrative duties, not much time to implement those ideas. This semester I’ll finally get to try out some of those new ideas.