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Presented as part of "Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities" (#RODH2012)

Presented as part of "Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities" (#RODH2012)

Oct 23-25, 2012, Ireland.

More info: www.dri.ie/programme

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Aja Teehan Aja Teehan Presentation Transcript

  • Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities Dublin 24th October 2012“The” Digital Humanities SkillsetAja Teehan,An Foras Feasa (AFF), National University of Ireland, Maynooth
  • DHumanities Skillset • No consensus on what DH is, but it is definitely something to do with Humanities. • Humanities is composed of many different subjects, there are some transferrable skills across the many specialisms, these are usually described as “literacy”. Is this shallow? • Other skills are area specific, e.g. scholarly editing. We cannot possibly teach all of the specialist skills required for the various areas. • So, then perhaps is less a question of “the” DH skillset, and more a question of “a” DH skillset? • Q1: Is it possible to define a meaningful set? 2 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • Digital H Skillset • “Digital” ... well, computational? algorithmic? modeling? or just digitised? • These are very specific, technical knowledges that can be used to guide skills acquisition e.g. programming in COBOL and Java are two different skills, that rely on same knowledge. • Depending on your level of granularity: Skill = algorithmic thinking, or Skill = Java proficiency (more difficult to translate across languages or problem solve outside of the predefined and taught patterns) • Q2. What do we mean by skills, and where do they fit into knowledge? 3 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • AFF Skills, Knowledge, Theory, Practice • At AFF we believe that the answer to Q2 is: • skill-acquisition should only take place within a framework for knowledge; theoretical and methodological. • Conversely, knowledge can only be attained through practice, and through participation in knowledge generation. • And that the answer to Q1 is bound tightly to that: we believe it is possible to define a meaningful set of skills, if we just have one more component to help us answer the question: 4 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • Defined in Relation to What? • “The” skill-set can only be defined in relation to the objective of the researcher, or the scholarly community. One Humanist mail asked “what should you know in order to be eligible for most jobs, funding opportunities, etc?” The answer was Oxygen, XQuery and brownie points for XSLT, while XML wasn’t considered “necessary”. • These are software tools, only one of the many tool types available to DH researchers, and without methodological and theoretical frameworks, which are themselves tools, they are useless - unless you consider the objective to be “get a job”. Activity Theory can help us. • As a DH community, what is our objective? Personally, I consider the aim to be contribution to knowledge. • As AFF, a research institute, educators, what is our objective? 5 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • AFF’s Objective • For us, at AFF, we want our students to be able to participate successfully in the Discourse of Digital Humanities. • We believe this requires that students attain Digital Literacy; this is the basis for “the” DH skillset. • Digital Literacy is the deeper, cross-disciplinary representation of generalised activities. These activities allow us to define “the” rather than “a” skill-set. • The need for this is expressed, in a single instance, by Hans Gabler’s call yesterday for a mode of scholarship that allows us “to relate, or model, the relationships between the pyre of humanities objects passed down to us over millennia: literary, philosophical, scientific and law cultural heritage texts”. 6 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • Digital Literacy • “the E-Generation, possesses the digital competencies needed to effectively navigate the multi-dimensional and fast-paced digital environment of computers ... Like water, the new literacy—much more broadly defined below than simply the ability to read and write—is a necessity of life in the 21st century. ... Digital and visual literacies are the next wave of communication specialization wherein the majority of people have technologies at the tip of their fingers to not only communicate, but to create, to manipulate, to design, to self-actualize.” • “The greatest challenge now is moving beyond the glitz and pizzazz of the flashy technology and teaching true literacy in this new milieu. Using many of the same skills we have used for centuries—analysis, synthesis, and evaluation—we now must look at digital literacy as another realm within which to apply elements of critical thinking”. Jones-Kavalier, B. R., & Flannigan, S. L. (2008). Connecting the digital dots: Literacy of the 21st century. Teacher Librarian, 35(3), 13-16. 7 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • Various Definitions • Digital literacy can be viewed as traditional literacy translated to the digital environment, plus a whole host of additional literacies arising from that new environment. • These literacies include information literacy, lateral literacy, photo-visual literacy and reproduction literacy. Various definitions, and categorisations can be found in the literature e.g. “new media literacy” can be viewed as another form of “digital literacy”. • However, it is, as ever, more complicated than that. 8 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • Digital Literacy as More than Digital • Lankshear and Knobel’s paper, “Digital Literacy and Digital Literacies: Policy, Pedagogy and Research Considerations for Education” cautions against the reduction of digital literacy to information management, manipulation and production, and against the notion that digital literacy is about understanding the code (in both registers) required to encode and decode characters. All communication is socially situated, and it is the social situation that is of paramount importance for whether or not the student is successful in participating in the Discourse. • All too often, the formal methods of skill-teaching are separated from the social (in this case DH research) context. Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2006). Digital Literacy and Digital Literacies: Policy, Pedagogy and Research Considerations for Education. Digital kompetanse, 1(1), 12-24 9 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • • President Percirion (Lankshear, 2006) 10 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • Which Discourse? • Digital Literacy is not a set of skills that purely relies on encoding and decoding in digital characters. Reading and writing in the digital world are just as tied to social context, intent and Discourse, as they are in the real. Furthermore, there is a unique social context, intent and discourse within the digital world, that sits atop the real world, and it is necessary for the students to become part of that social context, and to participate in the Discourse, through praxis; being DH scholars, rather than learning about DH. This necessitates authentic learning. • As such teaching the history of DH, the standards of DH, or consideration of the implications of DH, will not, of itself, enable DH students to gain digital literacy, or to participate in the DH discourse. • Discourse is not merely what is being tweeted, or mailed - it is not “social” in the way these sites often operate. Discourse, in this context, is scholarly, reflexive communication that helps to shape Humanities praxes and DH praxis. 11 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • Be a DH Scholar • What is central to “digital literacy” is marginal in digital literacies. • If the aim is to contribute to knowledge, by joining the discourse, through attaining digital literacy (which first requires literacy, literacy in the digital medium, and then digital competency) we must teach DH students how to be DH, not about DH. At AFF we create an authentic learning environment to support this; students apply skills within real DH research projects, using DH and CS methodologies, contextualised within theoretical frameworks ... and then consider the implications. • Students require an ability to negotiate between the three different registers used in DH: standard in CS, standard in H and standard in DH are three very different things. • They must decide for themselves which identity and activities they consider to be worthwhile and valuable, and they must then have access to the tools they need in order to be able to equip themselves to join those identity-groups and activities. 12 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • Support: Pedagogic Tools • The MASUS diagnostic instrument, “assesses the students ability to write about a given body of knowledge in a reasoned and critical way, together with their ability use the language resources appropriate for the required task.” (Bonnano, H & Jones, J. (1997) Measuring the Academic Skills of University Students: The MASUS Procedure, A Diagnostic Assessment. Sydney: University of Sydney, Learning Centre Publications) Importantly, it is applicable across all disciplines. • MASUS was re-examined and adapted in light of digital literacies requirement, and we use it as a means to provide feedback to students on their digital literacy based on the ability to produce a suitably encoded piece of written text, that is appropriate to the DH genre, uses the correct language register, decides between appropriate and inappropriate sources, evaluates those sources, correctly interprets them, adheres to academic language, and is properly presented (in a digital format). 13 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • DH Digital Literacy Demands Reflexivity • Tying of literacy to the audience: contextualised discourse. “Digital literacy enables us to match the medium we use to the kind of information we are presenting and to the audience we are presenting it to.” (Lankshear, 2006) • For all disciplines moving to the digital medium, “cut and paste” is not enough; identification, assimilation, evaluation and reintegration and representation is effective digital literacy. DH demand more... • In addition, for DH students, AFF expects, and therefore supports, • an ability to participate in the highly sophisticated discourse not just through digital literacy, but about digital literacy, and • a meta-cognitive approach to reflexive thinking about the implications the new digital literacies hold for their traditional subjects. 14 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012
  • Thank You Questions? learndigitalhumanities.ie aja.teehan@nuim.ie 15 Realising the Opportunities of Digital Humanities; Dublin; 24th October 2012