Digital Project: Refining the Idea

In my previous blog post regarding the project I am developing for this course, I have had some time to reflect on its scope and details, along with having consulted with my Professor about it. In this post, I will answer some key questions necessary for the creation of the project and provide some brief updates about what the final version might look like.

My main idea started out big. It essentially involved the creation of a teaching resource that would utilize some previous work of mine and build it out from there to include activities, assignments, and further analysis of the topics. However, this idea is rather ambitious in terms of the limits of this course. My professor encouraged me to begin narrowing it down to something more manageable (interesting how that seems to always be a key issue with any project, haha). So now my idea will primarily focus on a particular piece of mine that I did for AskHistorians, “Monday Methods | Indigenous Sources: Reconciling apparent contradictions.” The goal is to take this piece and craft it into a module of work that can then have an activities or assignments created around it for students at the college level.

The questions

How will digital media and/or digital tools be important to teaching your target audience about history and historical thinking?

Today students have access to vast amounts of information and resources. This includes the target data for this project: Indigenous(-related) primary sources. The information will likely be in a digital medium to begin with, allowing it to be studied in various ways. For example, the activities could involve annotation of images or textual comparisons of documents, two things that can be conducted with digital tools. However, digital tools become even more important if the activities/assignments can be hosted in such a way as to allow students to engage with the material for novel interpretation of their own. Giving students the ability to work with primary source material in a structured way that still allows for their own interpretation captures the essence of historical thinking while also providing guidance for developing good practices when studying history.

What, specifically, about the digital environment will influence what you do and why?

It will be important that the digital presentation of this material does not create a distanced feeling between the audience and the material and contextualization will help mitigate this. An example of the kind of material that can be utilized in this project are Indigenous Creation Stories. Though these are often passed on through the Oral Tradition, many have been recorded as oral histories and/or saved as digital text and are available online. Without the context that would naturally be present if these stories were told orally or be applied by the listener through their lived experience, the digital environment will require contextualization of the sources for the benefit of the audience so they can also properly contextualize it for their activity involving the material.

How does this change or shape your final project pitch?

The factors involved with the answers to the previous questions will likely keep the final version of the project in a dynamic state as I move on to select the source material to be considered, how best to present it in a digital format, and what tools/resources will be available to my audience to accomplish the goals of the module in the first place. In other words, the project should not be a simple comparison of sources hosted on a website. By determining what exactly I want my audience to do with these documents, I can start building the idea of what digital platform/tools will be needed to accomplish the activity/assignment. The previous answers demonstrate the variety of paths this project can take, so the final project pitch will need to center on explicit ways that these sources can be engaged with and how this will encourage historical thinking through the conducting of the activity.

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