BUDSC15-InSearchOfSymmetryDale Askey, Jason Brodeur, Paige Morgan (McMaster University)
In Winter 2015, McMaster University’s Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship offered an inaugural introduction to digital humanities course for undergraduates. Based entirely within the University Library, the course used library resources and was led by an instructional team of six library staff members with varying areas of expertise. The purpose of the course was to introduce students to important topics and methods in DH through individual and group work that built around the central theme of the First World War. An explicit goal of this course was to give students experience developing narratives from disparate information and data sources from both the Library’s special collections and external sources. In addition, course content and activities emphasized the importance of logistics, communication, and collaboration as professional skills that are useful to larger DH projects and their involvement beyond the university.
Many facets of the course worked well, but we encountered some noteworthy challenges. These included:
– Coordinating course topics, content, tool selection, development activities, and six instructors with various expertise.
– Selecting appropriate tools that accommodate student capabilities; contribute to achievement of learning objectives; and, complement and integrate with the desired resources.
– Harmonizing class time to suit two seemingly opposing instructional needs: Developing critical analysis and building narratives vs. developing technical aptitude with tools and resources.
As a ‘work-in-progress’ presentation, we will discuss these challenges–which all reflect our core desire to achieve symmetry between integrating library resources, subject specific information, and specific tool-based competencies–and invite participants to help us identify ways to achieve better balance.