August 26, 2016

digital history / teaching

Reading time:
2 min. | 341 words

This fall quarter I am teaching my digital history course. You can find the draft of the syllabus here. While the title of the course hasn’t changed since the last time I taught it, I’ve made two substantial changes to the overall structure of the course. First, the course focuses more heavily on public history instead of a range of digital methodologies. Part of this is self-serving—I’ve always wanted to teach a public history course, and the opportunity to combine public and digital was a welcome opportunity.

The course remains motivated by my belief that it’s easier to teach digital humanities when it’s motivated by a scholarly question—in other words, teaching digital humanities in the abstract can be difficult to grasp, but seeing methods and frameworks applied in practice helps make things more concrete. The class, like last time, remains centered around the history of Silicon Valley in order to promote this way of learning by doing.

Second, I’m attempting to push the technology to the background a bit—to get students focused more on the content of their digital projects rather than its form. The form, in this case, is a new project I’m launching called Silicon Valley Historical, a Cureatescape project for narrating spatial exhibits. Rather than doing shallow one-week dives into text analysis, mapping, or other analytical or visual tools, we’ll spend the quarter mastering a tool and approach, which comes with all sorts of skills attached to it: digitization, metadata, project management, public history, spatial history. My hope is a greater focus on the historical content of the course and getting students into the Stanford University Archives.

It’s still in draft stage, so excuse any missing links or drafty language. I’m still working on the graduate student supplementary syllabus, which should be up in the next week. A big shoutout to Sharon Leon, Trevor Owens, and Jim McGrath for sharing their syllabi with me as I designed this course. And a note of thanks for Caleb McDaniel’s approach to a rubric-centered syllabus, which I’m incorporating into this course.

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About

Greetings! My name is Jason Heppler. I am a Digital Engagement Librarian and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a scholar of the twentieth-century United States. I often write here about the history of the North American West, technology, the environment, politics, culture, and coffee. You can follow me on Twitter, or learn more about me.

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