I am serving as one of the 5 HASTAC Scholars for Vanderbilt University this academic year. Here at Vanderbilt each of the HASTAC Scholars is affiliated with a different center on campus, and I am fortunate to be affiliated with the newly established Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning (VIDL), which is tasked with research into and coordination of all manner of digital learning initiatives at Vanderbilt.
A PhD candidate in Historical Studies in the Department of Religion, my research focuses on the relationship between theological commitments and lived practices in late antique Christianity. I'm especially interested in the distinctive practice of Christianity in Roman North Africa and its influence on later western Christianity. My dissertation analyzes the varying understandings of the role of the clergy and their relationship to the church as a social body in North Africa and Rome in the fourth and fifth centuries.
I am also actively engaged in teaching. Last year I was a visiting instructor at the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, and this year I am teaching undergraduates the history and theology of Christianity as an adjunct at Trevecca Nazarene University. It was through my teaching that I backed my way into digital humanities and HASTAC. I saw the possibilities that digital tools offered for my teaching and my students' learning and I decided to implement some. I quickly realized just how cursory my own knowledge of digital pedagogy was; and as I turned to my colleagues, I realized that even my cursory knowledge was more than what any of them were doing. So, I set out on a process of learning and incorporating new (to my teaching) technologies in and out of my classroom. It was this process that led me to become a HASTAC Scholar, and it's why my interest in digital humanities remains primarily pedagogical - at least for now.
Being affiliated with VIDL has opened up a whole new set of perspectives on digital learning and the digital humanities. One of the major projects we are engaged in at VIDL right now is the coordination and production of Vanderbilt's Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) through the Coursera platform. This has got me thinking about the larger ends or telos of digital learning and its relationship to the kind of classroom work that goes on at institutions large and small. I'm learning first-hand just what goes into developing and producing a MOOC, and it looks like I'll be producing some MOOC or MOOC-style content myself this year, and blogging that process. But, more on that later. Until then....