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Digital Pedagogy - A Guide for Librarians, Faculty, and Students

This guide is meant to inform the user about Digital Pedagogy. It includes information on educational theory, a collection of case studies, and resources relevant to the study of digital pedagogy.

Defining the Digital Humanities

In 2012, Jeffrey Schnapp wrote "A Short Guide to Digital Humanities." In it, he defined the Digital Humanities as:

  • referring  to new modes of scholarship and institutional units for collaborative, transdisciplinary, and computationally engaged research, teaching, and publication.
  • although digital tools, techniques, and media have expanded traditional concepts of knowledge in the arts, humanities and social sciences, DH is not just “about” the digital, or "just" about the humanities 
  • instead, it is defined by the opportunities and challenges that arise from the conjunction of the term digital with the term humanities to form a new collective singular

According to Schnapp, the opportunities include:

  • redefining the boundaries among the humanities, the social sciences, the arts, and the natural sciences; expanding the audience and social impact of scholarship in the humanities and impacting interdisciplinarity
  • developing new forms of inquiry and knowledge production and reinvigorating existing ones
  • "training future generations of humanists through hands-on, project-based learning as a complement to classroom-based learning"
  • developing practices that expand the scope, enhance the quality, and increase the visibility of humanistic research

For additional information on what defines DH today, what DH is not, where is DH coming from, and what is ahead for DH, please see A Short Guide to the Digital Humanities.


Importance of Digital Humanities Education

Digital Scholarship/Digital Humanities Education

In the introductory essay to the edited volume, Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Principles, Practices, and Politics, Brett Hirsch notes an experience when he attended a plenary at DHSI, where Donald Bruce noted that very little had been written about digital humanities pedagogy. Afther hearing this talk, the academic used a very digital scholarship oriented approach: he textually analyzed two contemporary volumes on digital humanities, the Companion to the Digital Humanities and the Companion to Digital Literary Studies. The results indicated the following:

  • the term “research” was mentioned 504 times
  • “pedagogy,” a measly 8

Hirsch feels that this is generally indicative of an antagonistic positioning between research and pedagogy within the academy, with research operating as the principle vehicle for academic mobility and nobility. Hirsch argues that pedagogy should not be parenthetical to the experience of higher education, and there should be improved focus on this. Quoting Giroux, he states:

“To invoke the importance of pedagogy is to raise questions not simply about how students learn but also about how educators construct the ideological and political positions from which we speak.”

In referring to this, Hirsch is emphasizing that, over time, there is, or there should be a shift in pedagogical approaches in order to meet new challenges and expectations that are presented in the academy. Giving an overview of the evolution of discussions of pedagogy in the context of the digital humanities, Hirsch demonstrates that in the late 80s to the mid 90s, pedagogy held pride of place within the literature, with a later lull, and later, a re-emergence in the early 2010s. He refers specifically to the following instances when it became clear that the issue was becoming an important one:

  • TILTS (Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies symposium), a full panel discussion was held on the topic of digital humanities pedagogy

  • Two roundtable discussions at the MLA conference in 2012

  • An increasing number of chapters in books speaking about pedagogy in a broader sense began to be published (which may have anecdotally coincided with the rise of centres for digital scholarship/humanities)

Additionally, there was an inauguration of organizations and advocacy groups looking at issues of pedagogy, including the:

  • Association of Computers and the Humanities

  • Association for Literary and Linguistics Computing

  • Society for Digital Humanities

  • Alliance of Digital Humanities Association, and,

  • Numerous annual fixtures in the digital humanities calendar, including symposia, conferences, workshops, training, all indicative of substantial institutional support

Granting agencies also began taking an interest in the area of digital humanities pedagogy as well. This included the :

  • Office of Digital Humanities

  • National Endowment of the Humanities and the Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities

  • JISC – eLearning and eContent programs

More importantly, Hirsch argues that it is prudent to think about what and how faculty members teach under the flag of digital humanities, and the broader institutional implications that that has, as this has implications for the role of the professor. The professor, instead of being the traditional sage on the stage, can turn into a:

  • facilitator of student projects

  • a co-inquirer

  • a learner (giving up on the idea that our authority stems from our certainty, and from the knowledge areas where we have demonstrated achievement)

  • A collaborator

Although scholarship in the area of Digital Humanities Pedagogy is just starting to reach a critical mass in terms of volume, some key scholars have written about possible models that can be used in order to teach digital humanities skills to undergraduates. Here are some models offered by scholars, followed by several case studies currently used. This section of the libguide will showcase case studies that model some of these approaches.

Please note that currently there are numerous approaches to Digital Humanities education, and which will be discussed here. These include:

  • Certificate programs

  • Courses embedded within undergraduate and graduate programs

  • Day long courses

  • Week long, project based courses

  • Undergraduate, Masters, and PhD degrees

There is currently very little standardization in terms of what is taught within each program.

Additional Resources - Brett Hirsch

Brett Hirsch is a ARC Discovery Early Career Research Fellow and Assistant Research Professor of English and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia. His research interests lie in the areas of Shakespeare, the history of publishing, digital humanities and computational methods in literary studies, authorship and stylistics. 

Brett Hirsch - Not Without Mustard - Personal Blog