New DH Faculty at LAC – session/discussion idea

As a future LAC faculty member leaving behind my doctoral work at an R1 institution where the numbers of resources and colleagues working with digital media tend to be more plentiful, I am interested in discussing what to expect in terms of differences between large research universities and small LAC campuses as they relate to digital/new media practices.  Specifically I am concerned with the following:

  • How does one create careful, thoughtful, and effective relationships with the college’s IT (instructional technology) or ET (educational technology) department staff?
  • How does one balance being one of (possibly) only a few faculty who implement digital media practices into the classroom?  That is, how do we act as resource for other faculty who are interested in doing this kind of work without becoming overwhelmed as the “go to” person (or one of a few) for tech advice?
  • How does one help administration to better understand the range of necessary resources and ever-evolving platforms, applications, software packages that comprise “new” media?

At my current (research) institution we have an Institute for Teaching and Learning (<a href=””>ITLAL</a>) that handles a lot of the faculty training in working with the digital.  I am curious to learn about smaller/LAC models of this and/or how to create these kinds of resources on LAC campuses.

Categories: Panels |

10 Responses to New DH Faculty at LAC – session/discussion idea

  1. jacque wernimont says:

    I’d second this great idea. I’m in a very similar situation, although we don’t have an equivalent to ITLAL. There is a lot of conceptual enthusiasm here for projects, but not very many people with experience in the field or in dealing with the infrastructure issues.

  2. bboessen says:

    I think this could even be something everyone participates in–sortof a Sound Off–as I’m guessing from anecdotal experience that even among LACs, availability for these kinds of resources varies.

    One thing I’d add in passing is that what I find to be the differences between my LAC and my grad institution is at least partially similar to the differences to be found between Hollywood and indie film production (which I did in the 90s): with the former, there’s usually money to hire a specialist to do the thing you need to do, so no one really does anything new; with the latter, there’re just not enough resources to do that, so you end up doing a lot of new things you’ve never tried before.

    While this means you can’t hit the ground running with a complex idea, you get to become generally proficient in more skills/practices, and that has its own rewards that I personally love.

    But yes, I’d like to hear what everyone has to say about what’s available at their institutions. Perhaps we could even post such info to the blog? (Though I don’t know if there are any non-tenured folks coming who might be shy about such recording.)

  3. B”H

    Wow. May I say a prayer, right now, that your worry about “doing this kind of work without becoming overwhelmed as the ‘go to’ person (or one of a few) for tech advice” is a worry with merit.

    In my college, if you dare to do something with a computer in the humanities, everyone seems to regard you as some sort of freak and looks upon your work as commuters might look upon an avante guard sculpture erected over the middle traffic lanes of the freeway, (i.e. “What the hell? It just better not get in my way!”)

    I’m usually mid-sentence about what I do when I see their eyes glaze over.

    Has anyone found a way to get those who fear DH to start grasping it? What is your strategy?

  4. Dick Brown says:

    A “sound off” session could be very helpful for identifying and validating common experiences, in addition to sharing strategies for making progress.

    I urge another element in this discussion, especially in the context of young faculty: academic recognition. Learning new technologies and finding effective ways to integrate them in scholarship and teaching will likely involve large investments of time and energy, leaving less of each for traditional (and well-understood) disciplinary work. All young digital humanists, including those who can build on prior investment in these technologies (perhaps made during graduate school), will stand for evaluation by tenure and promotion panels that include persons without personal exposure to these new methods. Even those senior faculty who support the digital humanities movement (which might not be everyone) need a well-founded context for making those evaluations. We need to insure that quality work in digital humanities receives appropriate recognition, and that young faculty members who pursue these new approaches receive the thoughtful advice they need as they make progress in their academic careers at their institutions.

    I want to raise awareness, not an alarm. These issues can be addressed by pro-active action, such as updating disciplinary statements of criteria for tenure and promotion, and through effective faculty mentoring. But I think a discussion by our group would be timely.

  5. audreybilger says:

    I like the idea of a “sound off” session, where we could check in on what things look like at our home institutions and on the challenges and opportunities we have encountered. As someone who’s new to DH at a place that hasn’t really engaged much with DH, I’m looking for advice on how to make things happen without getting in over my head.

  6. This idea is so timely for me — my institution is going through some big changes in terms of how technology is approached and incorporated. The biggest evidence of this change for the faculty will be the “fall institute” at the end of the summer. In the past, this has been a day-long event before the beginning of the school year with a few talking heads and introductions to new hires. This year we’re reinventing the fall institute as a professional development event, with a handful of faculty demonstrating how they use a variety of tools in their research and teaching. One of the driving motivations for this change is the introduction of iPads to campus. Freshmen will be given iPads this fall, and faculty will be getting theirs over the summer. We’ve been building up to this over the past year, so it won’t be a surprise but it will be completely different for the majority of our instructors. I’m definitely looking forward to a “sound off” session to hear how others are handling such changes. Thank you!

  7. Ryan Cordell says:

    I love this idea of a “sound off” session, too. In fact, the title of this proposed session nearly encapsulates the reason I wanted to organize a THATCamp for Liberal Arts Colleges. As a new prof at a small college coming from a major DH center, I knew I would face many new challenges in continuing my work. Let’s make this sound off session happen!

  8. Pingback: DH scholarship at a liberal arts college | THATCamp Liberal Arts Colleges 2011

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