Where are the mini-yous?

I’m a high school teacher. I attended THATCamp Prime for the first time last year, and left thinking a lot about how little I know about linked data or Omeka or the ethics of iPad hacking. In fact, I’m teaching a research and writing course and just learned about Zotero about five minutes ago. This is troubling because 1) I teach the kids you’ll see in your classrooms next year, and 2) the conversations that educators have around K-12/learning/tech generally do not involve these ideas.

I’m interested in having a conversation about what K-12 (but primarily high school) teachers should know about how to move a “digital humanist” mindset into their practice, and how to begin to engage our students around these ideas. What does a mini-digitalhumanist look like? What is s/he thinking about in high school? Is there, truly, a way of thinking digitally that seems to be native to the ways that college students now approach research/etc?

Am thinking about what the outcome of this conversation might look like, other than an hour of idea-sharing ..


  1. Amanda Visconti

    I’m teaching undergrads, not K-12, but I think there’s an interesting overlap in how we present DH (both as a community open to students, and as a set of skills) to younger people who may not be aware of DH as a field or might not have the experience (e.g. knowing how working in academia feels) to discover the community or easily become part of it. I can discuss my own specific DH interests with my digitally eager students, but how might I convey the breadth of DH possibilities? What are the resources toward which I should point new digital humanists? (DH Q&A and the UCSB Toy Chest seem like good starts.)
    There’s an ongoing discussion of as to what constitutes DH; I wonder whether we could consider how to convey some of those possible definitions to our students. Perhaps a “Students’ Intro to DH” cheat sheet, with routes to literacy in some basic tools and terminology? We might discuss what kind of skills and knowledge areas we’d like to see students start to enter the community already knowing.
    What about a chart of grade-appropriate tools and example projects? For example, Wordle is a good introduction to text manipulation for grade-schoolers, but high-schoolers might get more out of something like TextVoyeur.

  2. Amanda French

    I saw an absolutely terrific presentation by Tom Woodward (@twoodwar on Twitter) about the huge disconnect between K-12 and college expectations at the UMW Faculty Academy a couple weeks ago — I think there’s a recording on blog11.facultyacademy.org/. Basically, he blamed Standards of Learning. Which is just to say that it’s not limited to digital humanities.

    Really, though, I’m not sure that we *do* need “mini-usses” at that level, or even the undergraduate level. What I do think is that K-12 kids and undergraduates need a bare minimum of digital literacy that they’re not getting (everyone should know HTML, I think, and some basic programming), and that they need assurance that this can be applied for humanistic ends (say, to build a website about a favorite historical figure or even an ancestor.) They also need to know how to think critically about technology, and that’s where the humanities comes in handy.

    Anyway, I won’t go on more here, but outcome or no, this’d be a great conversation to have.

  3. Brian Croxall

    This seems related to last year’s session on teaching DH in undergrad classrooms: see, among others, my session post. Unfortunately, we need to concede that if many people can’t agree on the definition of DH, then we’ll have a hard time figuring out how we can talk to K12 educators about the subject (or even deciding if we should).

    I do think that having exemplary tools that we could point to, as amandavisconti mentions above, can be a great way to introduce people to the methodologies of the digital humanities. Along with those she mentions, one shouldn’t miss DiRT.

    I do think that it would be a book for DH in general to also know what exemplary projects look like. In literary studies, I can tell you books that are good representatives of a certain type of thinking (deconstruction, Foucault, object relations, formalism, etc.). If we’ve got our list of tools, we should then have a list of those things that use those tools effectively and in creative ways.

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