Session Idea: Literacy – True, Functional & Tech

The Techmobile and Free Library Hot Spots are part of the effort to spread digital literacy, but we often encounter those with multiple literacy issues.

According to the Center for Literacy, an estimated 550,000 individuals in Philadelphia are considered low literate. And if you’ve been paying attention to the big digital literacy push here in Philly, you’ve probably heard something like 41%-55% of Philadelphians lack access to broadband internet.

With all of these disheartening statistics, how do we keep working to help people make the leap from low literate to functionally literate and help them adopt technology at the same time? How do we look at literacy as a whole? How do we encourage students of all ages to improve?

I’d love to talk about literacy and digital literacy and what I’ve encountered working for the Hot Spots and Techmobile. If you have encountered literacy issues at your institution or workplace, how do you approach it?

Session idea: Improving a Digital Teaching Portfolio

Teaching portfolios can serve myriad purposes in academia:  support for tenure cases, supplementary materials for job applications, inspiration for peers, making sense for ourselves of the big picture that we’d like to emerge out of our day-to-day just keeping up with classroom management, (lecture and other) prep, and grading. 

Putting a teaching portfolio online provides flexibility to demonstrate teaching strengths through multi-media platforms and to constantly update our materials as we change our approaches, refine our skills, teach new classes, engage new generations of students, etc.  The more our classes become dependent and connected to and through internet technologies, the more reason our portfolios should reflect that.

In this working session, we would walk through the teaching portfolio that I created in the fall of 2011 (and since have minimally updated) at gasperhulvat.com , and discuss how to improve it (and hopefully come up with some ideas for your own portfolios or web-based projects in the process!)

It’s a simple site and built on wordpress.  I’m an art historian, and a complete rookie when it comes to software, coding, graphic design, you name it!  I put this site together myself, hacked away (probably for way too long) at the problems I encountered building it, and I’m looking for any and all advice about what would make it work better.

Some of the questions I’m hoping to answer:

How can I make the homepage more engaging, more of an advertisement of my teaching skills and less of an outline? (I’m on the job market presently, so if I manage to get a search committee member on the site, I want it to hook them in, not overwhelm them!)

What is useful to the various constituencies who might visit my site, and what is junky useless filler?  I.e. How can I streamline it?

Do I need to worry about (anonymously) publishing student work on the site if I haven’t received explicit permission to post it (either verbally or in writing–and does that matter)?  Does having a password to protect the site help with this — is a password necessary, and/or does it place an unnecessary barrier to access which might prevent someone who could use the information from getting to it?  What if the work is already available online (say on Youtube) but only to people who have the http?

How much is too much?  (Right now, the site is too much!)  What can I do to more effectively make the site a “teaser” to my teaching rather than a full-out (confusing) demonstration of it?

People who might want to attend this working session include: 

  • teachers looking to develop online portfolios,
  • experienced builders of offline career portfolios (for tenure or other situations),
  • present/former academic search committees,
  • web designers and programmers (especially with wordpress experience) looking to help a rookie out,
  • folks with graphic design / web design aesthetics training
  • … and anyone else who might contribute to or learn something from this conversation!

Session idea: Encouraging the use of DH in K-12 classrooms and beyond

One issue we’ve encountered in developing our digital history project relates to our target audience of grade 6-12 teachers, but it probably applies to college professors as well. We’ve found this audience has varying comfort levels with both primary source documents and technology, meaning that while some teachers certainly seek out these kinds of digital projects for their classrooms, MANY others would not.

What else could/should we be doing as a DH community to encourage teachers to use these primary-source digital resources in the classroom? This may be a simple brainstorm of existing resources that we could collect into one place, or we could begin a larger discussion about how we could cooperate regionally on trainings, print how-to manuals, or other support resources specifically focused on DH in the classroom.

Idea for a Session: Digital Archives and How to Use Them in Research, Writing, and Teaching

The creation of digital online archives has been a vital part of digital humanities work, transforming everything from practical access to the kinds of questions we can ask of our subject.  Now that we’ve got them…what do we do with them?  The idea for this session comes from a literature person who isn’t a “maker”–I don’t make digital archives, I’m not an archivist–but I do want to use them in my research and writing.  Specifically, I’m interested in the position of the reader/user of digital archives of intimate life writing, like letters (for instance, the online Carlyle and Browning archives); perhaps digital archivists (those who do the making) and those who benefit from their work could come together to explore broader questions like:

+ How do theories of the archive accommodate digital archives?  Do they?  Does the idea/work of the digital archive subvert/interrogate archive theory?

+ Does the position of the reader/user change in the digital/online space?  Are ways of reading transformed?

+ How does access change our experience of the archive: the actual physical experience of the two spaces and how we navigate them and how it impacts our work?

+ Future possibilities for researchers/writers/teachers to take advantage of the work done by digital archivists?  Journals like Archive, etc.