Tag Archives: Introduction

New Class, New Me: A Re-Introduction

Hello!

I am just starting my new course for George Mason’s Graduate Certificate in Digital Public Humanities– “Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age.” Although I’m the same person that’s been posting in this blog for the last two semesters, I think that certain key characteristics change when a student starts a new class.

As much as I’m coming to the course as a student, I’m also coming as an educator. Not only have I been a TA, but also a substitue teacher in every grade from Pre-K to seniors in high school. I’ve seen first hand how history can be taught, and how the students seem to respond. I’ve subbed for two history clases, and they were far different than the history classes I took in high school- and one class was taught by my former history teacher! History in public schools, at least where I live in CT, seems to be dominated by interactivity, problem solving, and technology. I’m looking forward to learning about the trends I’ve observed.

I’m still a Cultural Resource Management Archaeologist. For this course about teaching and learning, already my part in the construction, and dissemination of, history is at the forefront of my mind. CRM exists because in the 1970’s legislation was passed to protect archaeological resources for the public good. So, from that time forward, the public has had a stake in archaeology. But does the average person know that? Or care? A resounding “no.” When most people still ask if I’m looking for dinosaurs, there is an astronomical disconnect between CRM and the intention of the laws. In this class, I’m really excited to explore this problem further, and consider solutions.

Lastly, I’m coming to this class as a professional in what some see as a dying field. Most American archaeology is CRM. The pipelines are laid, and cell towers erected. Jobs are dwindling. The ivory tower is no safe place either. Anthropology departments are shrinking and projects defunded. These are all symptoms of the first problem I discussed- the vast disconnect between the public and archaeologists. Future archaeologists must convince not just the government, but the public, that what we do is important. We’re really bad at that. If archaeologists are unable to demonstrate that we do more than stock museums and play around in sand for the History Channel, the profession will die. By taking this class, I hope to learn how to more effectively teach students and the public about what I do.

Hannah, the student of “Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age,” is a public school educator, CRM archaeologists, and defender of the profession in training. What I most desire from this class are the tools to be a better educator.

Introducing Me, the Digital Public Historian

This semester I am enrolled, as part of George Mason’s Digital Public Humanities Certificate, in a course titled “Digital Public History”, which I am very excited about. If you’ve read the preceding entries, you already know that I am a professional cultural resource management archaeologist, traveling throughout the eastern seaboard leaving a trail of test pits behind me. To achieve this illustrious career, I received a BA in Anthropology (focus on Archaeology) from Temple University in ’13, followed by an MA at Brandeis University in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies in ’16 and finally a stream of rejection letters for PhD programs. Left wondering what I was supposed to do with my life without school, I joined the private sector and immediately found a way to stay in school by joining this program.

In truth, I enrolled in George Mason’s Graduate Certificate in Digital Public Humanities for more than the comfort of scheduled classes and term paper deadlines. My last year in graduate school I had discovered the digital humanities and sought to learn more about the field. I attended a THATCamp to this end and was inspired. I wanted my research to have the ability to reach thousands of people and engage them the way the projects at the “unconfrence” did. Before my course work for George Mason began, I taught myself to 3D model and print, code and web design- with varying degrees of proficiency.  I became more comfortable with the skills during the Introduction to Digital Humanities class and picked up GIS as well.

So, after the ground work, I am very, very excited to get into the public aspect of this certificate program. In academia in general, but in archaeology in particular, scholars tend to hoard their data, publish rarely and distribute to a select, elite, few. What is the point of doing humanities research if most of humanity never hears about your project! I think digital public history is a wonderful answer to this problem. Unlike many public archaeology programs that require the public to physically go to an excavation, just to watch the experts from behind glass, digital public archaeology would allow for a deep, richer, more personally enriching experience.

My greatest hope for this semester is to learn how to better communicate with people who are not archaeologists or academics. I want to learn how to make my research appeal to a larger audience than  the fifty other people in the world who study it. A specific skill I wish to learn to how to better utilize social media as a tool for digital public humanities. I scarcely use Facebook now, let alone Twitter, Pintrest, or Flikr. I do realize, however, that they are powerful communication tools.