Notes: Laura Klein, “Hacking the Field: Teaching Digital Humanities with Off-the-Shelf Tools”

Klein, Laura. (2011). Hacking the field: Teaching digital humanities with off-the-shelf tools. Transformations, 22(1), 37-52.

Summary:

Klein works toward an understanding of where the digital humanities lies in education and links the digital humanities with educational technology. Klein works through several “off-the-shelf” or open-access technologies utilized within a classroom and analyzes this link.

Keywords: digital humanities, digital literacy, hacking, literacy, new materialisms, pedagogy, technology

Sources:

Bianco, Jamie. (2007). Composing and compositing: Integrated digital writing and academic pedagogy. Fibreculture, 10.

Drucker, Johanna. (2009). SpecLab: Digital aesthetics and projects in speculative computing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Neary, Mike and Joss Winn. (2009). Student as producer: Reinventing the student experience in higher education. The future of higher education: Policy, pedagogy and the student experience. London: Continuum.

Quotations:

“By offering material models of openness and access, by fostering community and facilitating collaboration, and by illuminating the importance of process and method, these tools also offer an opportunity to address the increasingly hierarchical relationship between the fields of the digital humanities and educational technology” (p. 38).

“If the field of digital humanities is truly to define itself, as Drucker proposes, as “the study of ways of thinking differently about how we know what we know,” and about how the “interpretive task of the humanist is redefined” in the “changed conditions” of the present age, the field must focus on how ways of knowing are linked to the institutional structures that support scholarly work, and how those structures shape interpretive—and pedagogical—tasks. By facilitating collaboration across classrooms and disciplines, by emphasizing the contributions of free, open-source, and/or off-the-shelf tools, and by foregrounding the process of teaching—and learning—that takes place within the university, the creative application of platforms and design of projects, such as those described in this essay, are poised to challenge, to redefine, and to reintegrate ways of teaching and knowing in the digital age” (p. 48).

“Just as instructors and scholars must train themselves to harness the power of “constraints-based approaches” and off-the-shelf tools, they must also acknowledge the limits of tools, access, and knowledge itself. This way of knowing must be conveyed to students in the form of engaging classroom discussion, flexible assignments, and opportunities for personal exploration and growth. Only then can students arrive at their own understanding of their “interpretive task” as students—and as scholars— in response to the range of media forms that they encounter in the cultural fabric of their everyday lives” (p. 49).

Questions and Reflections:

In what ways can we get students to engage with open-source or off-the-shelf resources to invent stakes for student writers, to put them in a position that invites them into the inventive process through risk? In what ways can these sites become sites of hacking and disrupting of normative literacy practices?

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