Posted by: emilysuzanneclark | April 4, 2015

Adventures in #digitalhumanities, Part 3

This is a continuation of an ongoing series on #digitalhumanities. The theme of #babysteps from the American cinematic feat What About Bob? continues here.

This post might be a bit premature, considering that I haven’t created any digital humanities assignments yet (though I had a student turn an assignment into a #dh one and turned in a really creative product!). However, I’ve been thinking about it. A lot. Some of that thinking has centered on the coming together of #digitalhumanities and Ignatian pedagogy. Gonzaga University is a Jesuit school. This is the first time I’ve been affiliated with a Jesuit institution, which means the Ignatian pedagogical model was new to me this year. The Jesuit style of teaching was new but also familiar. It coincided well with how I had already approached teaching and learning. Attention to total person education and thoughtful reflection were already important to me. This provided a language to discuss teaching.

Model of Ignatian Pedagogy, from Reinert Center for Transformative Teachings & Learning, St. Louis University

Model of Ignatian Pedagogy, from Reinert Center for Transformative Teachings & Learning, St. Louis University

I’ve been thinking about how the Ignatian pedagogical model could be thought through a #dh lens. Below are the beginning results of that reflection.

  1. Context As Gonzaga University’s mission statement on Jesuit education states, teachers should “become as conversant as possible with the context or life experience of the learner.” As such, we pay attention to the political, cultural, racial, and socio-economic facets of their lives. The world our students inhabit is also one where the digital is commonplace. Since teaching and learning take place in the context of our students’ lives, our pedagogical models should strive to meet them there in both analog and digital ways. Additionally the digital world offers a more diverse context for student learning.
  2. Experience Students bring their knowledge and experiences with them to the classroom. These are classroom materials for teachers to draw upon, just as much as textbooks. Those experiences include interactions with the digital world. Though they have grown up surrounded by digital tools and digital content, this does not mean they are experts in the digital world. Rather, we can build upon those experiences of living in a digital world and further develop skills to interact with that digital world.
  3. Reflection Not only does digital humanities course content allow students to draw upon their experiences in the digital world but also encourages reflection on those experiences. Students draw upon their experiences, as well as their memories, their understanding of the world, their imagination, and their feelings to evaluate and integrate what they’ve learned into their lives. The digital world provides an active forum for this process that can be shared and crowd-sourced.
  4. Action As teachers at Gonzaga, we “provide opportunities that will challenge the imagination and exercise the will of the learners.” Curating and creating digital projects opens up the possibilities for student action. The digital world also allows our students to reach a large and diverse audience with their ideas, reflections, and conclusions. Creating digital content that can be shared with the wider world not only offers our students another opportunity to be persons for others. Additionally, skills in the digital world have become increasingly important for our students when they enter the job market.
  5. Evaluation More than simply exams, papers, and quizzes, we also evaluate our students’ social, emotional, and spiritual growth. While evaluating our students’ digital projects or engagement with the digital world might pose new challenges and the creation of new rubrics, it also offers new ways to measure our students’ intellectual and moral development.

Conclusion: I’m going to try integrating digital humanities assignments into my courses this fall. As that goes on, I will further reflect on what kind of pedagogical innovation digital humanities can offer us at teaching-focused institutions. The #dhbabysteps continue!

dh meow

Image taken from


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