In the fall, I am teaching two courses. One, a public history practicum course, will include significant play with digital tools. I have a clear vision of what I want the class to accomplish, which digital tools might be helpful, and how I can integrate both teaching and experimentation into the course.
I have found it much more difficult, in my nine years as a professor, to integrate digital methods and projects into my more traditional courses. I’ve spent some time these past two weeks thinking about just that. I think the key issues are class size (45 students), class composition (this is a mid-level course that fulfills general education requirements, so not all students are history majors), and learning objectives.
For my first foray into this realm, I am going make two changes to existing class assignments, currently listed on the syllabus as “in-class group work” and “final presentation.”
In the past, I have developed a series of in-class group assignments designed to teach students to read secondary sources more critically and to use scholarship to interpret primary sources. Despite the fact that students know exactly what I will ask them to do in class, they are rarely prepared. I am going to adapt this assignment as a way to help students read together and begin to address core questions BEFORE class.
In addition, I always assign a final presentation so that students have an opportunity to draw some conclusions about what the class was “about” in a big picture way. While I have always encouraged students to think creatively about this, I am going to devote some class time to introducing simple technologies they can use to design more interactive and interesting presentations.
I still feel a bit tentative about this, which is why I am reluctant to post an actual syllabus.
Both of these ideas are still information for me.