Notes on Teaching with Technology

The Humanities faculty here at Widener is having a lunchtime chat today on teaching with technology.  I put together a few notes and thought I’d share them in this space (nothing earth-shattering).

Two signature projects—our ENGL 301 WordPress site on the Great War and a student video essay on American cinema of the 70s—can be found here (along with my other stuff on teaching).

A few general principles:

  • Achieving a balance in my courses between goals related to content and goals related to skill-building re: digital literacy, digital scholarship, tools useful for work in the digital humanities and beyond
  • This means treating the teaching of tools/platforms the same way you treat the teaching of content related to literary study etc. – implications for course design, “coverage,” providing models and exemplars from the field, etc. => a focus on teaching methodology as well as content
  • In other words, getting students to think of these tools, etc. from a methodological standpoint: how do they enable us to do the work of scholars, writers, critics, etc.
  • Matching the tool/platform with what we’re trying to accomplish: using WordPress for teaching and learning re: scholarly communication; using the course blog as a visual medium for the analysis of visual texts like comics; using video essays to study film
  • Taking a collaborative approach with students/students as co-creators: technology is not the only way to take a collaborative approach to teaching and coursework, but it facilitates a collaborative approach in certain ways (Google Docs, public writing, peer review)
  • A commitment emerging from my training in writing pedagogy to multimodal approaches; a willingness to take risks and fail; to serve not just as teacher but as project manager/coach; a willingness to learn with the students (decentering our own expertise); playfulness, agility, “sandbox” ethos, getting them to “make” something with what they’ve learned; try more, fail better, figure out what you’ll need to troubleshoot, where students slip, let them be part of the problem solving and help each other (I wrote about this for ProfHacker here)