Digital Humanities Impacting the Classroom

In society today, we have seen a complete shift in teaching methods and study techniques. Students may be given classes on how to use a Macbook or may be given an iPad to study from and use in the classroom. As we know, society is very influenced by the technology incorporated in it, whether it be using an app on a tablet or texting on a phone. However, when using digital humanities in the classroom, students can be considered technologically illiterate. These students may not be able to process the intricacies technology can create. That’s where digital humanities comes into play in the classroom.

One method in which digital humanities has impacted the classroom has been within the context of the assignments given. Non-traditional assignments can be used, such as videos, blogs, wikis, electronic posters, timelines and many more. Rather than always writing a paper that requires a certain number of words or pages, students are pushed out of their comfort zone while learning technological skills that will apply later in life. Digital humanity studies can be used to study literature, history and other humanities subjects more in depth, and can benefit the classroom greatly.

Another study in the classroom used an Oral History Metadata Synchronizer to more effectively and efficiently look upon information in online oral interviews. This tool was used to help compose history in a writing setting. Students found a huge array of oral reports compiled by the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer in the Nunn Center, a preserved center that keeps records of oral history (more than 7,000 records). Students with access to this learned a great deal about metadata but also got a nice spin on the course with an application of digital humanities. This pushed them outside of their comfort zone again, yet it was found to be beneficial for their academic success. Students who worked with this also gave back a good amount of positive feedback. Instead of resenting the new approach to doing an assignment in the subject, they found it connected them more with the Archives and truly liked working with the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer.

Not only are archives accessible like what the OHMS gave those students beforehand. Barriers that blocked applying digital humanities to the real world has decreased and can also be applied in the classroom. A good example of this can be found on your phone. Just using Google Earth or Bing Maps can open up significant interpretation to certain landscapes, such as the run of the Mississippi River. This comes in hand for students when understand the geography of certain countries (or the planet), and can provide useful to pinpoint certain destinations in history courses. These barriers are diminishing and are allowing students in the classroom to use digital humanities more extensively inside the classroom.

I still believe the use of digital humanities in the classroom is making a long term impact on students. These skills gained by these applications can and will be used in the future, and will benefit these students when they apply for jobs. Being pushed out of their comfort zone to learn how to do more tasks in the digital world will make them more appealable to future employers.


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