Skip to main content

Introduction: Open/Social/Digital Humanities Pedagogy, Training, and Mentorship

Published onJun 06, 2023
Introduction: Open/Social/Digital Humanities Pedagogy, Training, and Mentorship

The articles that appear in this special issue were first presented at the online conference Open/Social/Digital Humanities Pedagogy, Training, and Mentorship in June 2021, an event aligned with the Digital Humanities Summer Institute.1 This event was a collaboration between the Implementing New Knowledge Environments Pedagogy Cluster, co-led by Constance Crompton and Laura Estill, and the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations Pedagogy Special Interest Group, represented by Ray Siemens.2 Thanks to our session chairs—Leigh Bonds, Theresa N. Kenney, Harvey Quamen, Hannah L. Jacobs, Lydia Zvyagintseva, Mary Elizabeth Leighton, Amanda Licastro, and David Ogborn—for facilitating wide-ranging and energetic discussions.

The 2021 Open/Social/Digital Humanities Pedagogy, Training, and Mentorship event occurred online because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which meant that we were able to host over one thousand registered participants from around the world, many of whom were able to attend the synchronous and fruitful discussion. The Twitter hashtags for the event were #OSDHumanitiesPTM and #DHSI22. The articles that were selected for publication here capture the breadth of our interventions and discussions at this event, while also opening the door for further innovations in open, social, digital humanities pedagogy, training, and mentorship.

The title of this event and special issue—Open/Social/Digital Humanities Pedagogy, Training, and Mentorship—yokes together multiple ideas with its slashes and commas: indeed, each of the terms themselves contain different meanings. Below, we have chosen just a single theme from the many that each of these ideas bring together, in order to showcase one way it explores the topics of this special issue.

Kate Thornhill and Michelle Scalise Sugiyama’s “Ancient Teachings, Modern Methods: Using Open Pedagogy to Raise Awareness of Traditional Ecological Knowledge” explores the notion of open in multiple ways: first, with an explicit focus on open pedagogy; second, by describing the co-creation of an open educational resource; and third, by exemplifying an openness to collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and different forms of knowledge. The importance of openness when it comes to mentorship and collaboration is also emphasized by Laura Wildemann Kane, Amanda Licastro, and Danica Savonick in “Who Guards the Gates? Feminist Methods of Scholarly Publishing.” The team at the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy shares how they value and practise open peer review and open access, while also modelling an open process that seeks to demystify publishing and create a welcoming community to support digital pedagogy.

The opening two articles demonstrate that a key part of open is social; these themes also appear throughout this issue. In “Network + Publication + Ecosystem: Curating Digital Pedagogy, Fostering Community,” which was the keynote from our 2021 event, Rebecca Frost Davis, Matthew K. Gold, and Katherine D. Harris reflect on the importance of building community and open processes in the creation of Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities, an online resource designed to facilitate digital pedagogy by showcasing a set of curated keywords that will be of interest to instructors. Beth Fischer and Hannah L. Jacobs’ “A Repository of Shared Pedagogical Practices: Assignments in Visualizing Objects, Places, and Spaces: A Digital Project Handbook” likewise demonstrates the importance of open and social to digital pedagogy and how shared pedagogical artifacts such as assignment guidelines can lead to better teaching and learning experiences.

Many articles in this special issue focus on how different digital components can improve teaching and learning, particularly when it comes to humanities. In “Art History and Augmented Reality: Designing Art Exhibitions in the Classroom,” Karen R. Mathews demonstrates how bringing augmented reality into an art history class helps students encounter cultural objects in personalized and immersive ways that use experiential learning to deepen understanding. C. R. Grimmer’s “The Poetry Vlog: YouTubing, Interviewing, & Going ‘Live’ in the Classroom” explores and exemplifies how vlog technology can help students learn about contemporary poetry and offers lesson plans. In “Thinking with bell hooks and Paulo Freire: A Syllabus for the Digital Middle East,” Melinda Cohoon offers a syllabus for a course on the “Digital Middle East: Social Media and Gaming in Iran, Turkey, and Arab Countries,” which, as her prefatory material explains, emphasizes how “transgressive critical digital pedagogy” enables bidirectional and ongoing learning. Claus-Michael Schlesinger, Malte Gäckle-Heckelen, and Fabienne Burkard focus on the challenges that can face digital humanities students as they turn to online platforms; their article, “Onboarding Digital Humanities Students with a Shared Working Environment for Introductory Courses: Concept, Implementation, and Lessons Learned,” offers DH2go as one solution to lessen the challenges that can be associated with teaching digital skills to humanities students.

Lydia Zvyagintseva, Kate Cawthorn, and Harvey Quamen consider the role of libraries and digital scholarship centres in teaching technological skills and the unspoken assumptions that can come with one-shot workshop models. Building on critical pedagogy, in “Digital Literacy as a Theory of Power: Critical Pedagogy in a Library Digital Scholarship Centre,” Zvyagintseva, Cawthorn, and Quamen advocate for digital literacy to be taught and valued not as an afterthought or secondary learning outcome, but rather as a key to education and knowledge that needs to be incorporated foundationally into teaching and research. Helen Hewertson and Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel’s article “Discovering the Digital: Reimagining a Module and Co-creating Assessment at Foundation Level” draws on critical pedagogy, hidden curriculum theory, and constructive alignment to describe how they redesigned an introductory humanities module to include more digital methods and student and instructor reflection on those methods.

E. Leigh Bonds’s “Facilitating Course [Re]Design: A Programmatic Approach to DH Integration” describes how a library-based workshop series helped participants incorporate digital humanities pedagogy into their courses in order to support student learning outcomes. Indeed, this workshop series shows how training can help equip instructors with better pedagogical (and digital!) tools. Lydia Vermeyden and Grace Fishbein offer suggestions on how to effectively teach digital skills in “Teaching Technical Topics Effectively: How Teaching Humanists Has Changed How We Teach Everyone.” They focus on how to create a welcoming and supportive environment built on interdisciplinary dialogue, scaffolding, and collaboration.

While many of the articles in this special issue deal explicitly and implicitly with mentorship, the final two offer collaborative reflections on the importance of mentorship and the role of personal and relational experiences in learning, teaching, and research. “Constellations of Community, Care, and Knowledge: A Collection of Vignettes from Pandemic Times” showcases voices from a graduate residency at McMaster University. Theresa N. Kenney, Emily Goodwin, Alexis-Carlota Cochrane, Linzey Corridon, Maddie Brockbank, and Sarah Paust challenge us to rethink graduate training and mentorship in the digital humanities by encouraging “pleasure, learning together, collaboration, and slow scholarship.” In “Making Things Together: Collaborating and Mentoring on an OER Project,” a group from Crafting Communities: A Series of Victorian Object Lessons & Scholarly Exchanges in COVID Times highlights how making together (both physically and digitally) can build community through “multi-directional mentoring.” The Crafting Communities authors—here, Denae Dyck, Andrea Korda, Mary Elizabeth Leighton, and Vanessa Warne, with Katherine DeCoste, Madison George-Berlet, Maryssa Grayer, Anne Hung, Jessie Krahn, Natalie LoVetri, Anne Mirejovsky, Ruth Ormiston, Allegra Stevenson-Kaplan, and Jamie Zabel—offer recommendations for mentoring and collaboration that include building in professionalization opportunities, meaningful reflection, shared acknowledgements, and celebration.

We have highlighted how this special issue brings together work on the themes of open, social, digital and pedagogy, training, and mentorship and highlighted how these themes are imbricated and implicated with one another: these are not neat categories and each article in this special issue speaks to many—if not all—of these ideas. And yet, it is the central word in our title, humanities, that also brings this work together. These articles all, in different ways, showcase how the use of digital resources as well as critical reflection about technology and media is important to humanities teaching and research. Indeed, it is this capacious and evolving field that is digital humanities pedagogy.

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?