Reaching Out: How do we bring the rest of our worlds in to DH?

Based on a suggestion by Jay Cook, we propose a session focused on the question of connecting with the greater worlds/universes we all move in.

  • For technology staffers: how do we reach faculty who are reluctant to engage digital strategies?  If we build it, will they come?
  • For faculty: how do we spin a successful narrative (thanks Fred Johnson) which both justifies our existence but more importantly convinces the larger faculty and the larger research/collaboration sphere that this direction is not only useful but vital.
  • For students: how do we use the ubiquitous tools of technology in harmony with the academic environment which at times is intimidating and difficult to engage.  How do we honor the backgrounds of other students who are less digitally fluent than us, for whatever reason?
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Joint Session: THATCamps LAC and Prime

Recent notices from funding agencies have been clear – they want to fund digital humanities work and they want to fund collaborations between R1 and Liberal Arts Colleges. Given this, we’d like to devote this session to talking about how we can best foster, propose, and run such collaboration.
This might include topics such as identifying collaborators, expertise (pedagogical, technical, disciplinary) sharing, ways to source “cycles” and to establish test beds, infrastructure, data set sharing, maximizing the opportunities of undergraduate research and pedagogy, and more!
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I have already learned a lot from several people. I think this will be a great conference.

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Session 1: Making Our Schedule

Your THATCampLAC organizers spent some time turning all your blog posts into a series of session choices.  Below is the list we’ve come up with.  Tomorrow morning we’ll pick our favorites and add anything’s that missing.  Under each topic, we’ve listed links to the relevant posts.

The Social Classroom

Ontological Crises

Is There a Tech in this Classroom?

Engaging, Collaborating, and Sharing with Colleagues

Digital Storytelling in the Classroom


Multimedia Projects and Lib Ed competencies

Digital Archives

Finding One’s Way in DH at Liberal Arts Colleges

Collaboration and Connection at LACs with DHCommons

“Iron Chef” DH Challenge

Ask the Undergrads: DH Edition

Once we’ve got the choices set, we’ll all vote on panels:

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Links and materials for Grant Writing Bootcamp

Jen Serventi sent us a few materials for her grant writing bootcamp. First is a sample narrative from a successful grant application submitted to the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities. Participants will also review materials from the NEH website and review the guidelines for Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants.

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Digital scholarship developers

All of the great posts so far are making me quite excited for the weekend’s sessions. I am really looking forward to conversations about multimodal scholarship and adding lab sections to non-science courses, but I hope we will also have time to talk about the role of programmers and developers in digital scholarship projects. I am all for a pedagogy of critical making and am always working to burnish my own skills at building scholarly projects, but I also recognize the value of partnering with others who might have far more advanced skills when it comes to actually coding and designing projects.

That said, I think a number if the threads so far have reminded us that LACs (and others, to be sure), have significant constraints that often make it difficult to have a seasoned digital scholarship developer available on campus. So how cam we address thus? Working with sympathetic and capable IT pros is a start. Continual learning on our own will help a bit. We could always look for grants that would fund small amounts of support. But is there anything more systematic we can do? Can we share developers across institutions? What might that look like? Would the hassle of networked development be worth the benefit of working with ever-more experienced developers?

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Related to the broader question…

One of the issues SNC’s President, Tom Kunkel, has raised is what will happen to current institutions of higher education if we do not embrace the possibilities of new technologies in the way we deliver education?  Tom came from journalism and the news paper business which has been negatively impacted by a lack of foresight in regard to how technology would transform their industry (see November 17, 2009- Too ‘Old School’ for Our Own Good? By Thomas Kunkel

I was struck this week by two popular media stories that seem to support Tom’s assertions.  First, a piece in Time (Survey: College Is Unaffordable, and a Poor Value.  But It’s Still a Good Investment? citing a recent Pew Social and Demographic Trends survey (Is College Worth it? College Presidents, Public Access, Value, Quality, and Mission of Higher Education that questions the value and role of a traditional college education.

The second was a piece on CNN regarding the Kahn Academy, which Bill Gates has praised and Google has awarded millions of dollars, that delivers some of the same content you would find on college campuses for free via videos on the web.  See and

As we navigate the challenges of facilitating change in higher education we should be aware that the perception of the public about college may be shifting and other options may seem more viable.   To reiterate Tom Kunkel’s points:

“We must do a far more imaginative job of integrating the current student generation’s two educational worlds—the digital and the traditional—and utilizing the respective strengths of each….In a world with so many higher-ed options, colleges had better have a persuasive answer when a prospective student asks, “Why come here?””




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“Ask the Undergrads”, DH Edition

EDIT: The session is over, and was a great conversation.  Some sketchy notes on the proceedings are found here:


It seems at least three campers are currently students at a SLAC, though I’ll be the first to admit I fit this definition somewhat marginally.

At any rate, I propose a simple Q&A panel with the current students up front and the rest (almost all SLAC educators) peppering us for frank feedback on what has worked and not worked in our experiences with classroom/course technology.  Maybe we’ll find some really obvious no-brainers that no one ever seems to talk about (e.g. the ubiquity of SMS texting as a communication method for the 17-22 set).

I’m hoping the spirit of the weekend (and the fact that no one is assigning grades) will encourage some tough but fair pragmatic conversation.

Possible starter questions:

  • When do course / facilitation software (Moodle et al) packages become cumbersome rather than enabling?
  • Digital syllabi: if we had to define a college-wide policy on delivery format, what would it be?
  • Students often think of multi-modal / multi-media projects as somehow easier than a traditional paper.  Why is that?  What are the consequences?
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Effectiveness of teaching and learning in DH

Reviewing this site’s content contributed through yesterday morning, I see many postings and comments related to teaching strategies and pedagogical techniques. I would be interested in a session on how the findings of research in education and the assessment of learning gains can inform teaching initiatives in DH.

Of course, I am largely seconding Reid’s motion in his post A broader question. However, I also see many relevant opportunities for applying education research methods and/or results in other posts and comments: Sara’s Deliberation and Technology (and comments by Barbara, Amy, and Sara); Molly’s and Barbara’s observations about working with primary sources in Librarian-Faculty Collaboration; Ryan’s and Michelle’s grading strategies in Managing Multimedia Assignments; Sally’s Class and Professional Websites, and comments on blogs (Michelle and Barbara), proactive engagement (Dave and Sally), and that interesting topic of “software fatigue” (Dave and Michelle); Kim’s Multimedia Projects and Liberal Education Competencies; Barbara’s Is There a Tech In This Class? and comments on incentives such as GE attributes and on blogging by Michelle and Barbara; and Sara’s intriguing Social Reading idea.

I would like to hear a discussion of how we might understand the effectiveness of these and other good teaching ideas on student learning.


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Training vs. education in computing

One of the reasons I’m coming to THATCamp as a computer scientist is to plan for an introductory course in computer science (CS) we will be offering in the Fall, with applications in Digital Humanities. As a liberal arts college, students in all majors have taken our first course (often to satisfy a general education requirement), including humanities students. How might studying CS help prepare students for DH?

I must clarify that my field is more about designing computations than in learning to use standard software or media tools. Many of the postings and comments I’ve seen on this site have expressed interest in training for using those tools, as opposed to the education in design of computations that we care the most about in CS. The principles of CS are the elements of computation that remain relevant as new technologies come and go, and although those principles provide valuable perspective and insight, relatively few people take the time to invest in learning CS as they approach new applications of computation. How many of us professors can put a priority on studying yet another field in support of our scholarly and educational work?

But perhaps we can ask our students to become knowledgeable in those other fields. They can help us to form interdisciplinary collaborations, and they will benefit from the long-term perspectives they gain. I’ve flown these and some related ideas in comments to posts, such as Molly’s Librarian-Faculty Collaboration, John’s Digital Archives, and especially Amy’s Finding One’s Way.

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