art historian, environmentalist, educator

Experiential Learning through DH

This weeks study focus was on the pedagogy of DH, and we read several resources about how to utilize DH tools in the classroom in order to create in-depth learning activities.

Kalani Craig and others illustrated this specifically in an analytical study of learning outcomes in an epidemiology class. In order to better appreciate and understand the vector theory of epidemiology, they employed a complex DH activity that used student’s cell phones to track their movements. Through these movement simulations, they were able to model how plague would spread through similar movements in other cities. Some of the student comments emphasized the reality they were able to more readily grasp through having modeled these simulations visually. Through these readings and my own experiences, I find that DH gives the power to learn about history (the past) in a more experiential (and present) way, which was also the conclusion of Craig.

I learned this week, as I have been learning throughout the semester, about how many learning and research tools are available online for free. This week, I fooled around with Google Maps and Voyant. I had previously been aware of some of the practibility of Google Maps, having used them in mapping out travel plans in other countries to make my own maps. I had never been exposed to Voyant, an online platform that lets you complete distant readings or word analyses of texts. I had fun plugging in my recent research papers to see the different word frequencies and other measurements. The header image is a word cloud image of the paper I wrote for my Gender & the Renaissance class. As you can see from the giant blue text, the most frequent word was the artist I selected to write about – Sofonisba Anguissola.

One of the things Claire Battershill’s book noted was that DH activities in the classroom need to prioritize balance. Looking at both my exercise in Voyant, as well as the detailed exercise by Craig, it is important to evaluate learning outcomes to ensure that the increase in time resources required to do a DH project are contributing significantly to direct learning outcomes.


Claire Battershill and Shawna Ross, Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom: A Practical Introduction for Teachers, Lecturers, and Students (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017)

Kalani Craig, et al., “Correcting for Presentism in Student Reading of Historical Accounts Through Digital-History Methodologies,” (2017).

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