Thursday, January 22, 2015

Syllabus posted!

I finally got my syllabus ready for the spring semester. In case you would like to see how I structured the course, you can read it here.

I did some major restructuring since the first iteration of the class, but I did keep some of the elements that I found most successful.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Three Reflections

As I revise the syllabus, I have three major reflections on the course.

First, and pleasingly, I feel that the course is much better structured, much more organic (if you will) than the first time I taught it. Despite not having actively prepared to revise the course through structured reading, I am organizing the topics better and have much clearer ideas of what to include and include. The syllabus feels much less driven by a few main texts and more more topical.

Second, and less pleasingly, I feel myself retreating from my earlier "Ceding Control" position. As I prepare the Google Drive document where the students will sign up for presentations, I find myself filling in many of the boxes with suggestions for what someone might want to present in a given week. I have sneakily left most social media off the list of "Big Tools" for students to present, because I felt I had too many somewhat duplicative presentations on that theme last time. Those tactics are the result of knowing better what I am doing and what my goals are, but it might meant that the course caters less to the students' individual interests.

Third, I am still a Reluctant Digital Historian. I cannot get very excited about learning how to use new tools. I like to know that new tools are out there. For example, despite a failed experiment in using TimelineJS in my spring semester undergraduate capstone course, I have added it to the list of Big Tools that students might want to present on. But I do not have much enthusiasm for spending hours learning how to make a tool work for me, unless I know I am going to use it all the time (like my word processor or email). Like last year, I decided to survey my students about their DH background. Last year, I used Survey Monkey. This year, because I knew that UWM has purchased access to a more sophisticated survey tool, I tried to use it instead. But after ten minutes of noodling around, I decided that it was much more than I needed, and not quite intuitive enough. So I gave up and just duplicated my previous survey.


Want to follow this class online? The spring 2015 course hashtag is #HIS717S15.

Friday, January 9, 2015

History 717, Redux

I'm spending a very cold Milwaukee afternoon in my office, prepping a new iteration of History 717: History and the New Media. It's daunting!