My time in the education department at CHNM has passed quickly, but it has also been deeply enriching. I’ve learned a lot about the challenges of creating historical scholarship geared toward K-12 students and have come to appreciate the importance of integrating digital media in the classroom. As one can imagine, coming into the Center with limited technical skills can be intimidating, but in these seven weeks the combination of course content and fellowship activities has greatly reduced my concerns.
Upon reflection, I have to say that education was a great area of the center to start this DH journey. The projects in this area are geared toward the development of historical thinking skills for teachers and students, but realistically the sites created and maintained at CHNM serve anyone with an interest in history. In fact, they have been crafted intentionally to attract and serve a wide population. Not only has this been motivational to me, it has convinced me of the value of digital history and helped me to see that the act of engaging students can (and should) be performed in a myriad of ways.
Given my background and research interests, I’ve been thinking, particularly, about issues of access and underserved populations as we move our work online. In evaluating websites that provide historical content, like Prohibition and Cape Cosmos I’ve begun to seriously contemplate the ways in which historical interpretations can be presented digitally. Further, the process of testing (and in some cases, breaking) some of the sites that are in-development now at the Center helped me to consider layout, design and functionality from a new perspective. As a former instructor, the discussions we’ve had about using digital tools for student engagement were especially meaningful for me and as a result I have begun to share tools and websites with nearly every educator I know.
Overall, though, I must say that working in a team has been the most meaningful aspect of the experience thus far. Not only has the education department been forthcoming with delicious treats each week, members are consistently welcoming and eager to discuss projects and ideas with us. Given my lack of expertise on these areas, working on a small part of the large-scale projects produced at the CHNM has given me greater insight into their creation and maintenance.