Blog Post

What’s in Your Digital Toolbox?

HASTACers, I would be so grateful to hear your responses to the following post:

What digital tools have you used research and/or teaching that you really like?
What are your top three tools for either teaching or research, and why?
What skills with technology should humanities students (grad or undergrad) absolutely have by the time they graduate?

Examples of tools (for lack of a better word) might include Omeka, SIMILE timelines, Oxygen, Twitter, Anthologize, blogs, CommentPress… the list goes on and on.

In my own research and teaching, I’m still figuring out which tools to use and how to use them. Two that I’ve used include free movie-making software and the publishing platform, Scalar:

With very little instruction, my composition students have had success using iMovie and Windows MovieMaker to create slide show videos to illustrate a personal essay. I give them very little instruction about how to use the software. In addition to requiring them to use technology that might take them out of their comfort zone, this assignment helps them become active users of images rather than passive receptors of them. I do not require my students to publish their videos on YouTube, but I do create a disc that collects all the videos together, and this serves as a small record of the class.

In my own research, I’ve been fortunate enough to use Scalar, the publishing platform for humanities projects under development at USC. It is not yet available for general use. Scalar makes it easy incorporate multimedia, create tags, and create a contextual argument (visual, textual, or both) that sort of floats in the background of the main argument. Scalar also allows authors to create multiple paths through the project’s argument rather than restricting the project to a single linear trajectory, as does a book or article. Scalar also makes collaboration easy and allows for outside comments. Though creating a project in Scalar is time consuming, so are most digital projects. I’ve posted several blogs about Scalar here.

I’m planning to expand my video assignment and hope to make my current Scalar project (it’s about William Carlos Williams and Einstein) public for comment soon. I will post updates about both as they develop.

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3 comments

Indeed...we often treat the image as wallpaper, not as means to strengthen their argument.  There are times I ask students to find an image related to a concept we are teaching....leave it up on their screen and then have students walk around looking at what others are thinking....i call it a museum walk.

Next step is to have the students focus on the image at least for 15-20 seconds...really observe.

 

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Thanks for your response, Michael. It looks like you have some great resources at your disposal and enthusiastic students. The fact that your students are using Final Cut Pro is impressive. Video can be such an effective way to help students express themselves. Many of my students feel they can make their written work clearer when they use images.

My challenge is to help them find ways to choose and use images that illustrate their work in a powerful way,.  That is, they often treat an image as though it is wallpaper rather than as a means to deepen their argument or take it in a new direction.

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Hi Elizabeth,

Thanks for the questions....hope this is helpful.

What digital tools have you used research and/or teaching that you really like?

etherpads, databases, video editing tools such as FCP and iMovie, photoboth, etc.

What are your top three tools for either teaching or research, and why?

a. etherpad.  Students share their response for all to see as well as myself.  I'm able to see/undertand their thinking, help with their writing.  In addition, other students can see what their peers are thinking....this builds toward a stronger response of a question I have asked.

I have examples, if interested.

Love using video....this helps students develop their speaking and presentation skills....easy to use through literature. 


What skills with technology should humanities students (grad or undergrad) absolutely have by the time they graduate?

...know how to communicate effectively via social media tools such as Skype or various chats.

Here's our website.....

http://phoenix.ciss.com.cn/websites/michael_lambert/

 

Michael Lambert

Shanghai, China

michael.lambert@concordiashanghai.org

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