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Digital Skills

In addition to the more theoretical work of the class, you’ll be expected to learn and demonstrate facility with a number of digital tools and techniques. As students come to this class with varied skills and interests, the guidelines are deliberately loose; you can use whatever software tools and/or equipment you can get your hands on to do the work, and you’re welcome to ask others for advice (so long as you perform the actual tasks yourself). The goal is less to make you jump through hoops than to ensure that you at least get your hands a little dirty by trying out some of these tools.

For each of the projects listed below that you complete, you’ll receive 3 points; if you go above and beyond the basic requirements and do something impressively creative, you’ll get a bonus two points, for a potential total of 5 points per project. The Digital Skills part of the class will comprise 25% of your grade, with each Digital Skills point corresponding to a percentage point of your final grade. In other words, to get full credit you’ll need to either perform nine of the below tasks solidly, or work really hard on five.

If you’re wondering how to get started, a few brief suggestions: The Student Technology Assistance & Resource Center offers a great range of services, workshops and help. Take advantage of them. I’m available via e-mail or IM virtually anytime; while I won’t hold your hand all the way through, I’m happy to offer advice or pointers to resources. Finally, Google is the best friend of anyone trying to do anything with technology; if you’re stuck or want to learn how to do something, odds are that you’re not the first (or even hundredth) person to be in that position, and a description of their solution is probably findable with the right search query.


  • Choose a topic from your own research and create a series of web pages about it. The resulting site must include a home page that links to at least two deeper pages, along with some form of navigation (either a header/sidebar/footer or in-text links). Put the site on a publicly-available webserver, and post a link to it on your blog.
  • Resources: Webmonkey: HTML Teaching Tool

    Cascading Style Sheets

  • Copy one of the layouts linked here to your own webspace, and restyle the page using CSS and your own design sense (you’ll likely need to rename index.php to index.html). Come up with a story for the kind of site you’re building and think about what kind of impression you want to convey, then design accordingly. Upload the result to your own web space, and post a link to it from your blog (explaining the sort of style you were aiming for).
  • Resources: Mulder’s Stylesheets Tutorial


  • Select an historic image (ideally from your own research), and create a digital version. Create a copy of the image and clean it up in Photoshop, then upload both the raw and cleaned versions and link to them from your blog.


  • Select an historic recording of your choice (or record something contemporary), and create a digital version using whatever equipment necessary. Use audio software to clean up the sound as best as you can, and upload the result.


  • Create a digital video about a topic from your research; videos should be at least two minutes in length, and include narration of some kind (either spoken or on-screen text).


  • Create a webpage with dynamic content of some kind (rollover buttons, text-replacement, current date/time, or anything else you can think of).


  • Create a Flash movie that combines at least two of the following: text, images, sound, video. The movie should be at least 5 frames long, and involve motion of some sort. Upload the movie (or, for bonus points, embed it in a web page), and link to it from your blog.

    Domain Registration and Hosting

  • Register a domain of your own choosing, and link it to a hosting account. Create a basic home page, and upload it to your new webserver. Link to your new web presence from yout blog.


  • Create a blog. Tailor its appearance and features to your own desires, and create an “About” page explaining why made the choices that you did. (And yes, this one’s a ‘gimme’...)
  • Resources: Typepad, Blogger, Wordpress


  • Create a history-related podcast. Post at least twice, and link to your new podcast from your blog.
  • Resources: Odeo


  • Choose a group of materials from your own research experience, and sketch out what a database of them would look like. What metadata would you need to enter? How would you search and/or order the items? What would the table structure be (i.e. a single flat table, or relational)? Create a database (or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, an XML file) with a few sample entries, and link to it from your blog.
  • Resources: Lazybase


  • Create a set of sophisticated search queries for online historical research (one which goes beyond basic keyword searching). Write a blog post explaining the topic you’re researching, and why these particular queries (and the resources they’re intended to search) are relevant.


  • Contribute to or correct a page on Wikipedia, or create a page on a topic not yet represented. Write a post on your blog about the experience, and link to the wikipedia entry in question.