Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Digital History and Undergraduates

Slippery Rock University students selecting images for HistoryPin at the Lawrence County Historical Society. Photo credit: Aaron Cowan
Digital history has transformed the way we study and record history and it has significantly shaped how we bring the past to the general public. Over at History@Work, Aaron Cowan discusses the challenges he has faced in integrating digital history into his public history course.  Read his post here.  A taste:

Digital history presents several obstacles for introductory-level students, though.  For all the claims about the millennial generation’s tech literacy, they are more adept as consumers than creators.  This is perhaps even more true at institutions like my own – a mid-size state university with a student body drawn largely from the suburban and rural counties in a 100-mile radius.  More than half of them are first-generation college students.  These supposed “digital natives” use smartphones and Twitter with relative ease but rarely have had access to the educational enrichment programs or expensive technology that might give them familiarity with computer programming.  Within the confines of a 15-week academic term, learning the intricacies of Javascript or Google Earth databases from scratch AND deploying those for a digital history project seemed unrealistic.

Thanks to Megan Piette for her contribution to this post.