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This past weekend I attended the annual conference of the American Historical Association. With sometimes as many as 50 simultaneous sessions (I kid you not!), one can imagine it was very stimulating and exhausting. (The online program is at: https://aha.confex.com/aha/2015/webprogram/start.html)
Though the conference was about history, it easily could have been about musicology or music theory. In my summary below I'm sure one can see the application of many of these ideas to music theory, both inside the classroom and beyond it.
I gravitated to many of the sessions dealing with digital tools and technologies both in the aid of research and teaching. I was already familiar with many of the tools used in research, so I was focusing more on the new kinds of questions and research methods that arise out of having such tools.
Less known to me were how digital techniques being used in the classroom to foster a deeper understanding of the material. A particularly memorable session had lightning talks by professors (and some students). Each person had 2 minutes to share what they are doing or planning with digital techniques in the classroom.
All teachers were very stimulated by the results they were seeing in their students, chief among them deeper student engagement. There's no question that initial adoption of digital techniques usually involves more planning on the part of the teacher (sometimes more staff is needed to execute incorporation in the classroom). But the effect expended appeared to be rewarded by the results.
I was very impressed by ideas expressed by Kathryn Tomasek, professor at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. On her blog "Doing History Digitally" she summarized the resources involving both digital humanities and pedagogy mentioned in one of the workshops, Getting Started with Digital History in the Classroom.
I was also very impressed by Jeffrey W. McClurken, professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. He has his own list of resources for those wanting to learn more about digital humanities and pedagogy.
A simple way to get started is to use a simple tool. A number of people extolled use of Omeka for use in class (http://www.omeka.net/). Originally conceived as a tool for creating online exhibits, many people have transformed Omeka into a more interactive tool, one that allows people to move away from thinking in a purely linear fashion. This being a conference for history teachers, such teachers mentioned how they put up texts from primary sources from which students add related passages from their own learning adding their own glosses. Since the Omeka installation is visible to the entire class, each student learns from each other's work and continue examination of each other's glosses.
Many of the techniques used visualizations based on data, and techniques for dealing with text, such as text-mining and topic modeling. One of the talks involved a new tool being tested at Ithaca College in New York. Originally called "Untangling the Web," the project is now called LINK: Learning in Networks of Knowledge (the website has not been updated to reflect the latest findings or the new name: http://www.ithaca.edu/hs/untanglingtheweb/) The professor's project was to give the class a text, have them tag it according to the topics their perceived. Tthen as they continue their research and encounter other texts, to tag those connections, resulting in a network of relations between the original text and multiple other sources. All this work was visible to the entire class so connections and links were made not only from student to text, but between students as well. The teacher who used this technique excitedly spoke of the deeper reading the students gave all texts. It was a classroom activity that no longer was about memorizing to spit back on the test, but to learn a text thoroughly enough that it can be seen in different ways.
Not all talks were about tools. Occasionally discussion arouse about the place of digital humanities among teachers, researchers, students, and the general population. Even though there is still some disdain for the field among strict traditionalists, such attitudes do not disturb practitioners. Already digital humanities are frequently discussed in the general press (usually without calling it digital humanities). What happens when non-academia becomes familiar with the techniques and questions endemic to digital humanities? That knowledge will certainly influence academia (those who refuse to learn--beware!)
There must be many hundreds of websites showing digital humanities in action or in the classroom. I strongly urge those with even a casual interest to investigate the resources mentioned above and become familiar with these techniques whose influence is going to increase.