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Playing With History

At the end of April two dozen historians gathered at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario for a conference called Playing With Technology in History. The organizing idea of the two-day meeting was that if we take a more playful approach to the teaching, learning, and the production of historical knowledge, new ways of thinking about the past may emerge. The three most prominent themes evident during the conference were historical gaming (so-called „serious games„), mobile history, and physical computing in the humanities (see an earlier post in this blog on that topic). As a participant in the conference, I spent a fair amount of time wondering how all the “play” we talked about can be connected to the serious purposes of teaching and learning about the past. I’m a believer that there are direct connections, but I also am hard-headed enough to insist that those connections be made explicit through data (qualitative or quantitative) that demonstrate how certain kinds of learning takes place during or as a result of play. It also remains to be seen whether a more playful approach to the construction of historical knowledge will have tangible results. At a minimum, however, it seems to me that if historians are willing to be a little more playful, we are more likely to engage a wider audience for our work.
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Collecting History Online as Web 1.5

One of the ways that digital technology is supposed to change the practice of history is through the collecting and preserving of historical content online. To be sure, millions upon millions of historical texts, images, and digitally reproduced artifacts have already been made available (and presumably preserved) on websites around the world.

But what about the collecting of historical content through open interface archives–archives that invite the public to deposit materials in their collections, either historical artifacts that individuals own and are willing to share, or „history as it happens?“ The open nature of the collecting process–one where anyone can deposit virtually anything into the archive–raises many questions for historians and archivists about the nature of archives themselves. But these sorts of projects can also raise difficult questions for the creators and managers of the projects. In a recent essay, my colleague Sheila Brennan and I try to make sense of at least a few of the lessons we learned in our work on one such project. (mehr …)

Digital Media and Student Learning

The January issue of Academic Commons highlights the results of several years of research on the intersections between digital media and student learning in the humanities and social sciences. The various essays presented in this issue — and a second issue due out in February — are drawn from the work of participants in the Visible Knowledge Project based at Georgetown University. Focusing on a variety of issues related to the ways that digital media are transforming student learning and the relationship between teaching and learning, the strength of the work presented here is that it is (mostly) drawn from evidence, rather than anecdote. Too often claims about teaching or gains in student learning are made entirely from a complete or almost complete lack of evidence. The essays in these two issues offer a pleasant corrective to this tendency.

Mechanismen medialer Aufmerksamkeit

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Nach diversen Medienberichten im April und dann im Herbst über den Kurs «Schreiben für Wikipedia» hat sich kürzlich auch die Redaktion von intern, der Mitarbeiter/innenzeitung der Uni Basel für die Veranstaltung interessiert – was mich sehr gefreut hat. Den kurzen Bericht gibt es hier, ein längere Version folgt demnächst.