Our final week of readings focused on teaching digital methods to students of all ages. Arguably, two of this week’s readings could have been assigned in previous weeks. The article on video games could be used in the week on video games and history, and Dan Cohen’s piece on the structure of digital history education at Mason could be one of the pieces read in week one. Honestly I would have preferred to read the latter piece at the beginning of the course, since, as a historian, I like to understand the history behind things and the reasons for studying a certain topic.
The most entertaining article this week was Mills Kelly’s chapter “Making DIY History?” While reading the article I couldn’t help but wish that the course was still offered at Mason, although I understand that offering that class semester after semester would ultimately be the equivalent of flogging a dead horse. The students learned valuable lessons about the methodology behind digital historical production, including how to create academically based sources in Youtube and blog platforms. The grey area of ethics also interests me. To what extent was this endeavor ethical? Is the creation of fictional historical narratives produced with the intent of comprehending the process of utilizing digital methods in history unethical? While I want to say that it isn’t unethical, I also can’t fully say that it is ethical, and herein lies the conundrum.
Wikipedia should be embraced as a resource by k-12 teachers, especially since Wikipedia is now as accurate as authoritative encyclopedias, such as Encarta. Rather than telling their students that Wikipedia should never be used, teachers should explain to their students the faults of Wikipedia and mention crowdsourcing in as elementary a fashion as possible. Students should be taught how to differentiate between what makes a source reliable and what doesn’t, rather than simply knowing that certain sources are not “accredited,” as one boy Boyd interviewed said. While it can be used in classrooms in resources, I am not yet ready to assert that Wikipedia should be used as sources for research papers and projects.
The article on using Omeka in the classroom made me think about what other technology CHNM created that can be used in the same setting. PressForward immediately popped into my mind, and I think it could be used in a Clio 1 class or an undergraduate class on introduction to digital methods. In Clio 1, or in the undergrad class if it utilizes blogging, PressForward could be used to curate, collect, and preserve the best blog posts each week into a larger course blog. Students would have to read each other’s blogs each week, perhaps comment on one or two, and then go through and nominate a few that they think best analyzes or critiques the topic of discussion. At the end of the semester the course blog would be a compilation of the most informed posts from the students. During the process, students would learn about digital scholarship, including the blogging as a form of academic communication, and have a grasp on how the plugin can be used in a larger context.