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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.

A Certificate Model Approach to Digital Humanities Education - Lisa Spiro

Digital Humanities Pedagogy Models - A Certificate Program in the Digital Humanities

In her work, “Opening Up Digital Humanities Education,” Lisa Spiro, director of Digital Scholarship Services at Rice University, presents various scenarios of how adequate training for scholars trying to expand into digital humanities is lacking. She argues that there is a lack of flexible opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills required for DH researchers and professionals. Additionally, she argues that at the same time, aspiring digital humanists need a flexible, inexpensive way to develop key skills within this constantly changing field.

Spiro presents a solution to this, one that she calls “lightweight.”  Her solution is a Certificate Program in the digital humanities. In its current state, she points out that most certificate programs that exist now are for existing undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in other programs of study, with the certificate typically functioning as a complement to the primary area of study.

As envisioned by Spiro, a networked, open digital humanities certificate program would “engage the digital humanities community in larger efforts to build participatory, non-proprietary, educational platforms to explore the implication of digital technology. Spiro hopes that it would have the following features. It would be:

  1. Networked - it would have technological and cultural resonance, and would be connected through online networks.

  2. Open - course content would be re-mixable and reusable so that instructors don’t have to duplicate effort, and could adjust content to suit their requirements

  3. Focused on the nature of Digital Humanities - the certificate program would be it would have a strong grounding in humanities problems and methods

  4. Certificated with more focused than a Masters of a PhD program

Spiro feels that several goals would be forwarded if such a certificate was put into place. These include:

  • More paths of entry and foster greater inclusiveness bringing new members and ideas into the community, allowing established practitioners to take work into new directions as well.

  • More formal opportunities for training and encouragement

  • More systematic intensive training would enable participants to do more systematic work

  • Unleash pedagogical innovation as course leaders and students experiment with new approaches

  • Help to transmit the core values of collaboration, experimentation, and openness through its structure

In order to reap the most benefits, Spiro feels that the certificate program should have the following six characteristics:

  1. Open: there is a growing consensus to promote open source software and open access to scholarly information. Open education promotes opportunity, training, builds larger appreciation of the subject area.

  2. Global: It should bring together learners from around the world, with the common goal of improving education in this field, and to share diverse knowledge. This means that linguistic and cultural differences would have to be considered in the design of the certificate.

  3. Modular: student could design their own program that would suit their own needs: self-directed/small group learning.

  4. Community Driven: demand pull approach to education.

  5. Technological: the certificate program could be an example of how technologies can be harnessed to enhance learning. Social technologies could be included in order to support interactive, dynamic learning communities and use gaming to motivate and structure learning.

  6. Experimental: using varied approaches. One of the missions could be to study open learning.

Spiro states that there are several benefits to using the approach are as follows:

  • Location: the certificate program would be available anywhere

  • Administration - the certificate would have the potential to engage multiple institutions and organizations

  • Curriculum: it would be hoped that the Digital Humanities community would define the content of the program

  • Access: because it is hoped that the certificate program is open, the content of its curriculum and the student work produced would be highly accessible and visible

  • Organization: the certificate program would have the option of being organized around competencies

  • Certification: certified by professional organization or communities would give the certificate weight and clout

  • Development: Content of the certificate program is not designed by a single administrative body, but would be developed by the larger DH community

  • Focus: collaborative rather than individual work


For an elaboration on Sprio's vision for the program, including a discussion of curriculum, content, funding, management, community, and student contribution, please see her chapter, "Opening Up Digital Humanities Education," in Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Principles, Practices, and Politics. ed. Brett Hirsch, Cambridge : Open Book Publishers, 2012.

Spiro concludes her chapter by stating that the internet has unlocked numerous possibilities by connecting educational content and learning materials, A certificate program as described above  would allow participants to gain more flexible yet rigorous opportunities to develop key skills and knowledge in the field, develop embedded knowledge of digital pedagogy, and develop a stronger sense of identity and purpose in their work.

Lisa Spiro - Additional Resources

Biography (from Blog):

"Currently, Lisa Spiro is  the executive director of Digital Scholarship Services at Rice University’s Fondren Library. She published or presented on a range of topics related to technology and higher education, including a study for the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) investigating “Can a New Research Library be All-Digital?” (with Geneva Henry), and a CLIR report examining archival management systems. She has also contributed essays to Debates in the Digital Humanities#alt-academy: Alternate Academic Careers for Humanities Scholarsand The American Literature Scholar in the Digital Age. She serve as Communications Officer for the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) and is a member of the Executive Council of the Association for Computers and the Humanities. She was the founding editor of the DiRT wiki (now Bamboo DiRT) and currently serve on its advisory board. Formerly, she was director of NITLE Labs, Program Manager of Anvil Academic, and Director of the Digital Media Center at Rice University. "

Lisa Spiro's Blog: Digital Scholarship in the Humanities - Exploring the Digital Humanities

Lisa Spiro, "This is Why We Fight: Defining the Values of Digital Humanities," Debates in the Digital Humanities. ed. Matt Gold

Lisa Spiro's publications on Educause

Lisa Spiro, "Getting Started in the Digital Humanities," Journal of Digital Humanities, 1.1 (2011).