Teaching Regional History Digitally

January 15, 2010 by

We (in Cleveland State University’s History Department and the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities) have developed Teaching & Learning Cleveland as a way to transform the region into a learning laboratory for upper-level university courses, as well as regional K-12 classrooms. We use Omeka as the basis for our collecting, archiving, research, and storytelling process.  Among our teaching partnerships are two Teaching American History Grants: a) Sounds of American History and b) Constructing, Consuming, and Conserving American History; we’ve also partnered with the Ohio Historical Society on the Ohio Civil War 150 project.

Also, we developed Cleveland History Blogs as a way for faculty and community partners to blog about and document their work, from building course syllabi to developing project-based blogs. I use the blogs for my lower-level and upper-level teaching, for example my United States History Survey, History 111.

My questions, relative to these projects run the gamut, from the following: How do we build collaboration with students and communities, especially at the upper level? How do we develop spontaneous classrooms, that are not linear, at the lower level? How much is too much–meaning how do we direct an appropriate amount of resources to facilitate best practices teaching?

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About mtebeau: In 2008, THATCamp helped me remake and reimagine my scholarship as a digital humanist; have been involved) and have been involved ever since (helping host/organize THATCamp Columbus). I am back for more reinvention. <br. I've already invented a bio on the web (www.marktebeau.com) and am engaged in multiple research, teaching, and learning projects. At the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities (www.csudigitalhumanities.org) we've built Cleveland Historical (clevelandhistorical.org), a mobile app for curating cities (or museums or ...) through interpretive humanities narratives, which is an instance of our larger Mobile Historical project, an open-source tool for simultaneous mobile/web curation and digital storytelling. The cool thing about it is that Omeka functions as the underlying CMS, deployed into mobile environments and tricked out with new plug-ins, themes, and such. As well as all the issues related to curating cities, I am increasingly curious about the process of reinventing practice, theory, and the humanities for the digital age. More specifically, in the context of my research into cities, landscape, and place, I have become deeply curious and strangely inarticulate about how our digital work has shaped and reinvented the physical landscapes around us. Does the digital alter the experience of the landscape? As I curate a city am I contributing to its decline as an experience, a lived human place? In some sense, am I not doing something like Czech nationalists of the 19th century, inventing heroes, such as Zaboj and Slavoj, and memorializing them in stone in an attempt to recreate the social and political world? Am I not engaged in this same sort of endeavor when I talk of curating the city digitally--using the virtual to make the loss of the loss and degradation of the physical landscape seem somehow natural and tolerable? Reinvention is the work of the digital humanities in so many domains, and I want to continue that journey in the lovely informality of an unconference.

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