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Tutorial: Integrating Digital Humanities Projects into the Undergraduate Curriculum

Tomasek, Kathryn, Wheaton College,

Davis, Rebecca Frost, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education,

Digital methods of analysis exert growing influence on the practice of many disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, yet students majoring in non-science disciplines often have little exposure to computational thinking. Although digital scholarship has become more pervasive among humanists, we have yet to recognize fully the value that collaboration with undergraduates can bring to projects in this field.

The aim of this workshop is to invite digital humanists to work together in considering how to integrate digital scholarship into undergraduate or general introductory level graduate courses.  Potential motivations include:

  • advancing digital humanities within the academy, especially at the undergraduate level,
  • linking scholarship and teaching to move forward a faculty member’s own project,
  • engaging students in humanities research through technology,
  • developing digital literacy to help students function well as citizens in the twenty-first century.
  • This workshop will present strategies for effectively integrating digital projects into undergraduate courses. By examining cases of assignments linked to digital projects, participants will consider how to make room for such assignments in a syllabus, how to tie digital projects to a course’s learning outcomes, and how to scaffold both technological and content learning to allow students to make positive contributions to a project external to the course. Participants will leave with a set of pedagogical strategies for thinking about digital projects, preliminary plans for assignments for their own courses, and suggestions for how to find collaborative partners in library and technology services for such projects on their home campuses.

    Part One: Rebecca Frost Davis will present an overview of ways that digital humanities projects have been integrated into the curriculum, contextualized through the pedagogical approach of problem-based learning and the principles of liberal education.  Participants will look at a variety of examples, including the Homer Multitext Project, SmartChoices, and the NINES Collex.

    Part Two: Kathryn Tomasek will present a case study from the Wheaton College Digital History Project.  A transcription and encoding assignment, this module can be dropped into multiple courses.  It includes scaffolded assignments; a teaching collaboration that involves a faculty member, a technologist, and an archivist; and multiple opportunities for students to create and use new historical data whilst contributing to larger digital history projects.

    Part Three:  Participants will brainstorm and workshop assignments for their own courses in breakout groups.  Discussion will center on three areas, practical questions about how to integrate assignments into a course, how to pace and scaffold work on digital projects, and questions about collaborative pedagogy.  The workshop will conclude with discussion of individual assignment ideas from the small groups.


    The organizers bring to the workshop fifteen years’ combined experience in integrating technology projects into the undergraduate curriculum.   Rebecca Frost Davis, Program Officer for the Humanities at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), has been teaching faculty development workshops on the effective pedagogical application of technology since 2002.  Currently, she heads NITLE’s initiative in digital humanities and researches the growth of the field at small liberal arts colleges.  Kathryn Tomasek, Associate Professor of History at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, has been using the Text Encoding Initiative in her courses since fall 2004.  She is Co-Director of the Wheaton College Digital History Project, a long-term digitization project that has employed students as summer research assistants and now includes a transcription and markup module that Tomasek uses in multiple courses for advanced-level History majors.  Davis and Tomasek will offer the workshop described here as a Bootcamp at THATCamp LAC, June 4-5, 2011, at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.


    Blackwell, C. Martin, T. R. 2009 “Technology, collaboration, and undergraduate research, ” Digital Humanities Quarterly, 3(1) 14 March 2011 (link)

    Cavanagh, S. 2010 “Bringing our brains to the humanities: increasing the value of our classes while supporting our futures, ” Pedagogy, 10(1) 131-142 (link) 14 March 14, 2011