Can Humanities Undergrads Learn to Code?

A recent NITLE Digital Scholarship Seminar, “Teaching DH 101: Introduction to the Digital Humanities” prompts a response from two undergraduates at the University of Pittsburgh.

We were surprised to hear during the December 16, 2011 NITLE web seminar on undergraduate digital humanities (DH) instruction a recurring motif along the lines that coding (markup and programming) is so difficult that undergraduates trained in the humanities cannot learn it quickly or successfully, and so potentially alienating and anxiety-provoking that it should be regarded as too advanced to be considered a core component of the undergraduate DH curriculum. As two undergraduate humanities majors (English Literature and Linguistics) with no prior technical background, we would like to share our own experiences with learning and using computational tools. We hope that our very positive experience will encourage faculty elsewhere to give their undergraduate students the opportunity to become deeply and seriously involved with this exciting and rewarding aspect of DH scholarship.

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The Globally Connected Language Classroom: A Case Study of an International Project in Two Intermediate Level German Courses between Denison University and the American University in Bulgaria

Global Project Partners and Authors:

dillmann_gabrieleGabriele Dillmann, Julian H. Robertson Jr. Endowed Associate Professor of German, Modern Languages Department, Denison University, Granville, OH, 43023, USA (Dillmann@denison.edu and dillmanngabriele@gmail.com)

Gabriele Dillmann teaches German language, German, Swiss and Austrian literature and culture, and special seminars on psychoanalytic theory in the Modern Languages Department at Denison University. In her teaching, she makes use of the newest technologies to enhance not only student learning in regards to all things German, but also to help her students learn skills in intercultural competencies and global learning. She is dedicated to CLAC pedagogy and team-teaching as a pedagogical approach. Her scholarly interests are increasingly vested in how digital technologies shape how we learn and teach now and in the near future. Her more traditional scholarship is in the area of German Romanticism and psychoanalytic theory, specifically suicide studies. Last year, she was awarded the Robertson Endowed Chair at Denison for her work in teaching, service, and scholarship.

StantchevaDiana Stantcheva, Associate Professor of German, Department of Arts, Languages, and Literature, American University in Bulgaria, 1 Georgi Izmirliev Sq., Blagoevgrad 2700, Bulgaria. (dstantcheva@aubg.bg and diana.stantch@gmx.de)

Diana Stantcheva earned her M.A. in German linguistics, Spanish studies, and New German literature at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, and received her Ph.D. in German linguistics from the same university. Dr. Stantcheva also has an additional teacher qualification for German as a Foreign Language from Humboldt University in Berlin and is a certified and sworn translator and interpreter of German and Bulgarian. Dr. Stantcheva has taught at Humboldt University in Berlin, at Goethe-Institute Sofia, and was a research fellow at Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, Germany. Since fall semester 2005, she has been teaching at the American University in Bulgaria. She teaches all levels of German, from beginners to advanced, as well as specialized language courses. Dr. Stantcheva has published two books and several scholarly articles and chapters in the areas of phraseology, lexicography, corpus linguistics, and linguistic historiography. Her current researchinterests are in foreign language didactics, phraseology, lexicography, corpus linguistics, language and gender, translation studies,terminology, and linguistic historiography.

Abstract

The language classroom is a most fruitful place for intercultural, global learning. Digital technologies allow us to make intercultural connections like never before and in the process language-learning benefits from real communication about real issues. Connecting two language courses globally requires overcoming many obstacles and challenges (time difference, collaboration, technology, funding, resources, etc.) but a strong belief that the benefits outweigh the costs serves as a constant source for pushing on.

The goal of our project (started in Fall semester 2013) was – and continues to be – to enrich our connected courses with an intercultural perspective through the direct exchange between students and faculty members as we discuss shared small group assignments via Google+ Hangout and Google doc shared writing assignments (of course, “traditional” technologies such as email and skype compliment the exchanges) all the while expanding and enhancing student’s language skills in German.

Our paper provides a research summary, describes in detail how we pursued the described goals with a special focus on the digital technologies we used and their pedagogical value, and gives a candid assessment of what worked well and what needs further exploration. We also briefly discuss the next step of the project, namely aligning the courses synchronously via video-conferencing technologies in addition to the Google+ Hangouts.

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Adapting Content from a Massive Open Online Course to a Liberal Arts Setting

Fowler_BioRyan Fowler, adjunct professor at Franklin and Marshall College, the Lancaster Theological Seminar, and the University of Southern Maine and a fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.

 

Meinking_BioKristina A. Meinking, assistant professor at Elon University

 

 

Morrell_BioKenny Morrell, associate professor of Greek and Roman studies at Rhodes College

 

 

Norman Sandridge_BioNorman Sandridge, associate professor of classics at Howard University and a fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.

 

Walker_BioBryce Walker, assistant professor at Sweet Briar College

Summary

Sunoikisis (www.sunoikisis.org) offered S-Iliad in the spring of 2014, involving faculty and students from an online humanities course of twenty-five students at the University of Southern Maine, a five-person introductory classics course at Elon University, a lecture course with forty-seven students at Howard University, and a seminar for fourteen first-year students at Sweet Briar College.

Participating faculty members collaboratively designed the course on Homer’s Iliad, incorporating and supplementing content from CB22.1x: The Ancient Greek Hero, a MOOC offered by Gregory Nagy through HarvardX (www.edx.org). Once underway, students completed reading assignments on their own and met with their respective professors by arrangement or according to institutional schedules. They collaborated as members of cross-institutional working groups and posted written responses to a writing prompt each week, and all students and professors participated in weekly synchronous meetings using Google Hangouts on Air.

This case study discusses efforts to (1) achieve a productive, equitable, and consistent level of participation from each student over the course of the semester, (2) establish inter-institutional connections and foster an inclusive sense of community, and (3) generate a meaningful, collaborative engagement with the poetry through moderated conversations, peer-to-peer commentary, and direct feedback from professors.

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Student-Directed Blended Learning with Facebook Groups and Streaming Media: Media in Asia at Furman University

by Tami Blumenfield, James B. Duke Assistant Professor of Asian Studies, Furman University

photograph of Tami Blumenfield, author of "Student-Directed Blended Learning with Facebook Groups and Streaming Media: Media in Asia at Furman University"

Executive Summary

Furman University prizes itself on being an engaged learning, liberal arts institution with extensive faculty-student interaction. 96% of students live on campus, leading some to question whether reducing face-to-face instructional time makes any sense pedagogically. Coming from a different institution that encouraged faculty to create hybrid courses, and seeing the creativity and freedom that offered, I wanted to experiment with the format in this new institutional environment. Would it still be effective? What adaptations would be necessary, and how would students react to this different course format?

In Fall 2013, I taught a carefully designed blended learning course that met once weekly for two hours and offered students extensive choices for meeting the course and unit learning objectives, using Facebook groups to report on and discuss their progress and communicate with their peers.

This case study examines the course experience and outcomes. It discusses practical and logistical elements of teaching a flipped-classroom, hybrid version of a general-education, Asian Studies course. The case study delves into student responses to the freedom provided by the course requirements and the implications of using Facebook as a learning management system. Finally, the case study analyzes the role of courses like Media in Asia at a residential campus like Furman University and the broader role of hybrid pedagogy in the liberal arts context. It concludes with recommendations for institutional support of hybrid course initiatives.

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Broadcasting Science Writing: Media Translations in Liberal Arts Pedagogy

Fiss_BioAndrew Fiss, Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing and History, Davidson College. Andrew Fiss is a visiting assistant professor in writing and history at Davidson College, where he teaches classes in the history of American science and also science writing. He received a doctoral degree in history and philosophy of science from Indiana University in 2011 and has also taught at Vassar College. In fall 2014, he will start as an assistant professor at Michigan Technological University.

Vest_BioMatthew Vest, Music Librarian, University of Virginia. Matthew Vest was the music librarian at Davidson College until the spring of 2014, when he joined the University of Virginia. At Davidson, he taught library instruction sessions, coordinated reference services, and managed music collections. He has a master of music degree in composition from Butler University and a master of library science from Indiana University.

Keywords

Science writing; Podcast writing; Information literacy; Liberal arts pedagogy

Executive Summary

Our case study discusses an assignment that asks students to translate a specialist scientific article into a short broadcast segment: in our case, a podcast in the style of National Public Radio’s A Moment of Science (http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/). The small environment of a liberal arts college facilitates this project through encouraging collaborations between classroom instruction, technology workshops, and information literacy sessions.

The assignment challenges students to not only communicate specialist information at an appropriately broad level but also to do so in an audio-only format. Also, the students work with the familiar, popular, and public outlet of radio or podcast, but in an unfamiliar way: as an academic endeavor. So, while students translate specialist texts to non-expert audiences, they also begin to consider the possibilities and limitations of digital broadcast content.

The case study provides further context for the assignment, giving learning outcomes and sharing the specific challenges and solutions the authors encountered while planning and implementing the assignment. It builds a theoretical framework around the nature of expertise in science writing. In doing so, it proposes a blended plan for teaching scientific and digital literacies in a liberal arts setting.

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Combining a High-Touch Vision with High-Tech Practices in Teacher Education

Authors

Nakia_BioDr. Nakia S. Pope is the director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Pope has been the director of the CETL since 2012. Prior to moving to Texas, he was an assistant dean and associate professor at Winthrop University in South Carolina. He’s interested in educational technology, philosophy of education, and popular culture in the curriculum. He also hikes and collects comic books.

Martinez_BioDr. Carlos A. Martinez is the dean of the School of Education at Texas Wesleyan University. He began his teaching career at Palacios Independent School District, teaching English as a Second Language to Mexican and Vietnamese immigrants in the mid-1980s. He has been training teachers at the university since 1991.

Hammonds_BioMrs. Lisa Hammonds works as an instructional designer in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Texas Wesleyan University. Mrs. Hammonds assists faculty with effective pedagogical applications that promote active learning innovation. She began her professional career in computer science. Her areas of expertise include information technology, course design, distance education, and faculty development. Mrs. Hammonds holds a Master of Science in education with a specialization in professional studies in adult education.

 

Executive Summary

This case study examines a partnership between the School of Education and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Texas Wesleyan University in developing a technologically mediated course in a teacher preparation program. A course was developed and is currently being taught using teleconferencing technology to reach multiple sites. The course also employs a learning management system for assessment and distribution of materials, as well as using Google+ Hangouts for virtual office hours. One of the objectives of the course development and implementation was to develop a model for other education courses to follow. Just as importantly, the course development process informed the philosophy of hybrid and online course development within the School of Education as the school reconsiders delivery formats in order to better meet student need.

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How to Flip and Land on Your Feet: Strategies for Empowering Faculty to Use Flipped Classrooms

Decker_Bioby, Emy Nelson Decker, Unit Head, E-Learning Technologies Unit; Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library

Emy Nelson Decker holds an MLIS from Valdosta State University and an MA in art history from the University of Chicago. She is an active member of the American Library Association and a frequent presenter at both national and international library conferences. She has previously published work in library journals such as Library Hi Tech and Collaborative Librarianship. Her current interests are centered on emerging technologies as well as new uses of existing technologies in the modern academic library setting.

Executive summary (Abstract)

While the “flipped classroom” model is often appealing to faculty who would like to create a more hands-on experience for their classrooms, gain more “class time” for projects, or simply integrate more technology into their teaching, many faculty are unsure how to get started with flipping their classrooms. During the 2012-13 academic year, the E-Learning Technologies Unit of the Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library offered workshops about flipping the classroom. These workshops centered on technology training and were attended by faculty from each of the four campuses the library supports. However, faculty indicated that this technological training alone was insufficient in enabling them to teach in this format and that they needed help charting more personalized plans for flipping their classrooms. This case study discusses the ways in which initial flipped classroom workshops fell short of empowering faculty to teach in this engaging style and how library staff subsequently developed targeted methods for “teaching the teachers” how to do a flipped classroom. Readers will glean insight into faculty hesitations in trying this new teaching style and will acquire a model for teaching faculty members in any discipline the information and techniques they need to be successful in this teaching style.

Keywords/Tags

customizable plans, faculty-to-faculty discussions, flipped classroom, technology training, workshops

Case presentation

The flipped classroom model, as described in this case study, is a teaching method wherein video-recorded lectures are reviewed as homework outside of class so that class time, in turn, can be used for engaging directly with the materials, classmates, and the instructor.[1] As observers have noted, “the flipped learning instructional model is growing in popularity throughout the world.”[2] Faculty are adopting the flipped classroom model of teaching because it opens up classroom time that would have previously been taken up with a lecture. The flipped classroom model allows students to do activities with each other and with the instructor that they would not have been able to do under a more traditional lecture-and-homework model.[3] The pedagogical reasons for flipping a classroom address several contemporary challenges. These challenges relate to the need to engage students with new technologies, provide students with opportunities to apply what they learn during lectures, and to allow the instructor to gauge learning outcomes more effectively.[4]

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Blended Learning: The “Hazards & Risks”

 

GawronskiVincent T. Gawronski is associate professor of political science at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama. He received his B.A. in history and Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin (1987) and his M.A. (1993) and Ph.D. (1998) in political science from Arizona State University. He is currently the coordinator of the Latin American Studies program at Birmingham-Southern and chair of the Teaching Committee of the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs. Dr. Gawronski’s area of expertise is Mexico and Central America, where he has maintained primarily four research tracks: 1) political and socioeconomic development, 2) disaster risk reduction, 3) “politics of disaster,” and 4) push-pull migration factors. Dr. Gawronski has contributed to several sponsored projects focusing on disasters and political change in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Dr. Gawronski has authored or co-authored publications in International Studies Perspectives, Peace Review, Hemisphere, International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, Cambridge Journal of International Affairs, and Latin American Politics and Society. vgawrons@bsc.edu

HoltWilliam G. Holt, Ph.D./J.D., is coordinator of the Urban Environmental Studies Program at Birmingham-Southern College. Holt received his B.A. in geography from the University of Georgia where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Holt has a Master’s in city planning from Georgia Tech where he worked on the 1996 Summer Olympics planning efforts. Holt was a community planner with the National Capital Planning Commission in Washington, D.C., working on the 2050 Monumental Core Plan update of the 1791 L’Enfant Plan. Holt received his Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University and his J.D. from Vermont Law School specializing in energy law. He edited two books: Urban Areas and Global Climate Change (Emerald 2012) and From Sustainable to Resilient Cities: Urban Efforts/Global Solutions (Emerald, forthcoming 2014).

Executive Summary

Birmingham-Southern College (BSC)’s Exploration Term in January affords instructors and students opportunities to create innovative projects that might be developed into semester-long courses. Drawing on BSC’s Urban Environmental Studies Program (UES), we planned this course to cross our traditional subject boundaries in political science and sociology with the natural sciences. The course focused on environmental hazards (tectonic-earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes, weather extremes, hydrological flood and droughts as well as disease epidemics) and urban social risks (poverty, war, starvation, and crime). We employed blended and flipped learning strategies as well as games and simulations. We conducted several field activities in the Birmingham metropolitan area as well as a three-night trip to New Orleans to examine post-Katrina redevelopment. The project drew upon academic publications, resources from local, national, and international governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and guest experts; we also relied heavily on Internet resources. The compressed January Exploration Term created some scheduling and pedagogical challenges. For example, it was not always possible to schedule remote class visits. Students had shorter times for class preparation and reflections, and we had little time to overcome technological problems. We realized our goals were too ambitious for a four-week session. We plan to offer the course again as full-summer term course to address time constraints and make use of better weather for field excursions. Indeed, there was a learning curve for both the professors and the students, but we are confident we successfully introduced and reinforced the course learning outcomes.

I would definitely take a blended learning course again. I learn best by watching, listening, and interacting. Blended learning almost seemed to cater to my ability to focus and learn.
–Student Comment

This course was different from many other classes that I have taken so far since our learning came from many different sources, trips, guest speakers, simulations, and lectures.
–Student Comment

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Blended Learning at Small Liberal Arts Colleges

This report was submitted by NITLE to the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) on December 5, 2011. The ACS now makes it available as context for its January 2014 call for proposals for case studies in blended/hybrid learning (deadline for submissions: February 21, 2014). This report was developed by Rebecca Frost Davis, then program officer for the humanities at NITLE. Dr. Davis is currently the director for instructional and emerging technology at St. Edward’s University.

Historically one of the strengths of liberal arts colleges—their small size—has also been one of their weaknesses: They are limited in the number of classes they can offer, and courses with small numbers may not have the critical mass to justify the expense of offering them. Despite these challenges, however, small colleges can expand their course offerings while retaining their “high-touch,” personal approach to education through shared academics, which are academic experiences that transcend the borders of a single campus by connecting students, faculty, and staff in pursuit of common academic goals.  By partnering with other institutions and leveraging technologies such as high definition video conferencing and collaborative software, colleges can connect students to learning experiences beyond their local contexts and faculty to larger educational communities. Furthermore, by strategically pooling resources, small colleges can collectively develop a shared academic program with the depth and breadth needed to meet the needs of today’s students.

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Launching the Digital Humanities Movement at Washington and Lee University: A Case Study

Barry, Knudson, Youngman, SprenkleBy Jeff Barry, Associate Professor and Associate University Librarian, Julie Knudson, Director of Academic Technologies, Sara Sprenkle, Associate Professor of Computer Science, Paul Youngman, Associate Professor of German

 

 

Abstract: This paper offers a case history of the development of digital humanities (DH) at Washington and Lee University. We will focus on how we informally and then formally implemented DH, especially the meshing of the various partner constituencies, the design of our program as it has evolved over time, and the technological environment within which we are supporting DH. We will conclude with an analysis and evaluation of our work in progress and detail our short term and long term future.

Keywords: digital humanities, collaboration, information technologies, library

Introduction

We faced a challenge at Washington and Lee University (W&L) in the summer of 2012: how does one start a movement – in this case, amovement in the digital humanities (DH). The state of DH on campus at that time is best expressed by Suzanne Keen (then interim dean of the college, now dean):

Everybody was working independently, and didn’t really even know about one another’s projects. I felt that if you said “Digital Humanities,” that relatively few W&L faculty would have any idea what that even meant (Suzanne Keen, e-mail message to author, March 11, 2014).

Her vision for the end state of a DH program on campus is compelling. She foresees DH permeating the curriculum widely and gaining broad acceptance among faculty, staff, and students. Moreover, she foresees liberal arts graduates who are information fluent, able to work with digital artifacts, and for whom working with large data sets is a matter of course. The difficulty we face is building a bridge from the current state of DH as Dean Keen describes it to her exciting vision.

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