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Introduction: “Collaborations and Connections in Digital Humanities Pedagogy”

Published onMar 14, 2024
Introduction: “Collaborations and Connections in Digital Humanities Pedagogy”

Teaching digital humanities always involves renewal: the renewal of course materials to reflect changing technologies, the renewal of pedagogical strategies to capture interest and answer new questions, and the renewal that comes from having new people teaching and learning.1 Indeed, as Armanda Lewis points out, “digital humanities (DH) as a field now recognizes pedagogy as a valid approach for exploring new meaning in the humanities” (71).

This special issue of IDEAH is the second to emerge from the online pedagogy conference, “Open/Social/Digital Humanities Pedagogy, Training, and Mentorship,” a Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI)-aligned virtual event.2 Earlier versions of these papers were presented at the 2022 event, co-organized by Laura Estill, Ray Siemens, and Constance Crompton.3 The event was structured around four sessions: “Innovations in DH Courses and DH in Courses,” chaired by Deanna Stover; “Platform, Process, and Pedagogy,” chaired by Marie-France Guénette; “Creating with and Mentoring Students,” chaired by Amanda Madden; and a special panel from the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organisations Pedagogy Special Interest Group (ADHO Pedagogy SIG), “Multilingual DH Pedagogy: Challenges and Promises,” organized and chaired by Diane Jakacki and Brian Croxall.

Though the papers collected in this special issue approach open, social, and digital pedagogy, training, and mentorship by exploring a range of methods and audiences, the themes of collaboration and connection run through them all. Collaboration has long been a byword in digital humanities and open scholarship research.4 When it comes to pedagogy, training, and mentorship, these chapters explore the benefits and challenges that come from collaboration at different levels: between institutions, between programs and units, and ultimately, between and with students. In their curatorial note on “Collaboration” in Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities, Danica Savonick, Amanda Licastro, and Katina Rogers write, “ideas build on countless others, weaving a complex network of influences. Collaborative work foregrounds this network, celebrating the value that many hands bring to a project.” With this special issue, we are pleased to join the existing network of voices talking about collaborations and connections and/as digital pedagogy.5

In the opening article, Geremy Carnes and Margaret K. Smith demonstrate the importance of cooperation and building relationships when it comes to teaching digital humanities, with a focus on both secondary and post-secondary education. Carnes and Smith describe how the St Louis Digital Humanities (STL DH) Network and its workshop brings together participants from multiple institutions and offer their findings. Likewise, Olivia M. Wikle and Evan Peter Williamson point to the fruitfulness of collaboration, in this case, focusing on how librarians can work with instructors to effectively bring digital methods into their classrooms. Wikle and Williamson offer the example of the Learn-Static initiative and discuss how they work to communicate their “project code and contexts” in order to “inspire others to begin learning and teaching static web for DH projects, one step at a time.” The two opening articles use workshop frameworks to support ongoing learning by instructors and students.

Two articles in this issue focus on building and publishing collaborative digital projects with students, in a literature class and sociology class respectively. Deanna Stover explains how she created a digital edition of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” with her students. This collaborative text encoding project helped them think through ideas of authorial intent, textual studies, and how the meaning of a text “can change depending on how and where and in what format you read it.” Rosario Rogel-Salazar, Alan Colín-Arce, and Brian Rosenblum “link the teaching of sociological theory with the creation of a digital project,” called WeberWeb, focused on the work of Marianne and Max Weber. Rogel-Salazar, Colín-Arce, and Rosenblum describe how—in order to create a Spanish-language open educational resource (OER)—their students developed digital skills and undertook primary research, learning not only about sociology but also about how texts and ideas have been historically shared and continue to be disseminated. Both of these classroom projects are predicated on collaboration as a key part of digital pedagogy and knowledge circulation.

Moving beyond the focus of a single course, Cindy Conaway and Nicola Allain take a community of inquiry approach to curricular design, considering the connections between courses, programs, and learning outcomes. Conaway and Allain discuss the design and decisions behind launching an online Bachelor of Science in Digital Communication at SUNY Empire State University. In this issue’s final article, Megan Perram considers networks that graduate learners employ as they undertake literature reviews, offering Twine as an organizational framework for thinking with hypertext and database structures. Perram describes how many graduate students “navigate through, and pull threads from, an array of theories housed in multiple disciplines” as they embark on dissertations. While operating on different scales (from an entire program for many students to a single student project), these final articles point to the importance of understanding connections in order to achieve learning outcomes.

When it comes to digital teaching and learning, building collaborations and finding connections is not always easy, as the articles in this special attest. It is, however, in undertaking the work of forging and renewing these connections that we can “help to shape this emerging educational paradigm in a way consistent with its practices and values, emphasizing participation, sharing, inquiry, learning by doing, play, and collaboration,” as Lisa Spiro envisioned (351). And, as these articles explore, the collaborations we undertake in our digital pedagogy and learning require thoughtful planning, care in execution, and intentional revisiting if they are to continue. It is our hope that this issue not only documents collaborations and connections, but also offers ideas, templates, and fodder for future teaching and learning that is open, social, and digital. Indeed, the capacious and evolving field that is digital humanities pedagogy shows us how the open, social, and digital can be (and already is) enmeshed in our training and mentorship.

Works Cited

Arbuckle, Alyssa. “Opportunities for Social Knowledge Creation in the Digital Humanities.” Doing More Digital Humanities, edited by Constance Crompton, Richard J. Lane, and Ray Siemens. Routledge, 2019.

Brown, Susan. “Tensions and Tenets of Socialized Scholarship.” Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, vol. 31, no. 2, June 2016, pp. 283–300,

Chan, Anela, Richard Chenhall, Tamara Kohn, and Carolyn Stevens. “Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Brokerage in the Digital Humanities.” Digital Humanities Quarterly, vol. 11, no. 3, 2017.

Gianetti, Franscesca. “Against the Grain: Reading for the Challenges of Collaborative Digital Humanities Pedagogy.” College & Undergraduate Libraries, vol. 24, no. 2–4, 2017, 257–269. Reprinted in The Digital Humanities: Implications for Librarians, Libraries, and Librarianship, edited by Christopher Millson-Martula and Kevin B. Gunn, Routledge, 2019.

Griffin, Gabriele, and Matt Steven Hayler. “Collaboration in Digital Humanities Research—Persisting Silences.” Digital Humanities Quarterly, vol. 12, no. 1, 2018.

Ketchley, Sarah. “The Value of Cross-Disciplinary Partnerships in the Digital Humanities Classroom.” Notes from our DH Correspondent (blog), 23 August 2022. Gale,

Kill, Melanie. “Teaching Digital Rhetoric: Wikipedia, Collaboration, and the Politics of Free Knowledge.” Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles and Politics, edited by Brett D. Hirsch, Open Book Publishers, 2012, pp. 389–406.

Lewis, Armanda. “Capacity Building for DH Pedagogy Supports: An Ecological Approach.” Quick Hits for Teaching with Digital Humanities: Successful Strategies from Award-Winning Teachers, edited by Christopher J. Young, Michael C. Morrone, Thomas C. Wilson, and Emma Annette Wilson, Indiana University Press, 2020, 71–77.

Ross, Shawna, and Claire Battershill. “Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom Digital Classroom Companion.” Companion website for Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom: A Practical Introduction for Teachers, Lecturers, and Students, 2nd edition, Bloomsbury, 2022.

Rowell, Chelcie Juliet, and Alix Keener. “Sharing Authority in a Collaborative Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Library Workers’ Perspectives.” Debates in Digital Humanities Pedagogy, edited by Brian Croxall and Diane Jakacki. Forthcoming, University of Minnesota Press. Preprint:

Savonick, Danica. “Teaching DH on a Shoestring: Minimalist Digital Humanities Pedagogy.” Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (JITP), no. 21, 2022.

Savonick, Danica, Amanda Licastro, and Katina Rogers, curators. “Collaboration.” Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities, edited by Rebecca Frost Davis, Matthew K. Gold, Katherine D. Harris, and Jentery Sayers. Modern Language Association, 2020.

Spiro, Lisa. “Opening up Digital Humanities Education.” Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles and Politics, edited by Brett D. Hirsch, Open Book Publishers, 2012, pp. 331–364.

Taylor, Laurie N., Poushali Bhadury, Elizabeth Dale, Randi K. Gill-Sadler, Leah Rosenberg, Brian W. Keith, Prea Persaud. “Digital Humanities as Public Humanities: Transformative Collaboration in Graduate Education.” Digital Humanities, Libraries, and Partnerships, edited by Robin Kear and Kate Joranson, Chandos Publishing, 2018, pp. 31–44.

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