Proposal for HASTAC 2013 – Reading, writing, and digital humanities? Involving Korean ESL students in digital humanities
HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, Technology, Advanced Collaboratory) is a great organization. It exists as a collaborative think-tank for anyone interested in the creative use of technology.
HASTAC (pronounced ‘haystack’) is celebrating its decennial by holding a conference at York University (not to be confused with my alma mater the University of York) April 25-28th. The theme of the conference is “The Storms of Progress: New Horizons, New Narratives, New Codes.” They describe their theme as follows:
“What’s next? 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of HASTAC’s founding. In that spirit we invite work that is either reflective or prescient, that evaluates our history and seeks to construct our future(s). We invite you to take this opportunity to look back, theorize and archive. We invite you to engage in the creative, if impossible, attempt to glimpse the digital future. We challenge you to shape it. We invite you to share how you, your team, your research lab, your classroom, or your students are building the technologies and subjects of the future right now or imagining new horizons of possibility for the ways in which we will make, teach, learn and find community in the coming decade(s).“
I’d link to the conference web site, but as of this moment, the page seems to be down. If you’d like to read the call for submissions, or to learn more about the conference, you can find more information on HASTAC.
Since Toronto is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from London, I look forward to attending the conference in person. I’ll also be submitting a proposal for a talk. My talk will be about my time in Korea working with elementary school ESL students and my attempts to engage them in digital humanities projects. What follows are the extremely rough ideas that will eventually form my proposal. I’d love to hear any thoughts or feedback you may have.
Reading, writing, and digital humanities? Involving Korean ESL students in digital humanities
In her plenary address at the Japanese Association for Digital Humanities (JADH) 2012 Conference, entitled “Teaching DH: an absurdity or a necessity?” Elena Pierazzo stressed that if undergraduate digital humanities courses are going to high enough student enrolment numbers to succeed, then exposure to DH is going to have to start at the high school level.
In recent years digital humanities has made strong in-roads in high schools with the creation of projects like Making Invisible Histories Visible, 4E Gymnasium Amsterdam’s Timeline History Lesson, the Digital Youth Network, and many others. If the digital humanities are going to continue as a growing presence in universities around the world, engaging younger students is essential for sustained growth.
After finishing my MA at the University of York I decided to take a year away from academia to work as an elementary school English teacher in the Republic of Korea as I transitioned from a very traditional background in Medieval Studies into an academic focus examining public engagement and the digital humanities.
Throughout the past year I have attempted to involve my students (ages 7-13) in various digital humanities projects. The theme of this year’s conference invites us to imagine the digital future. Working with students who are quite literally the future has caused me to reevaluate assumptions I had made about the future of digital technologies.
My paper will examine the challenges, successes, and failures I’ve encountered while attempting to engage young, non-native English speakers in digital humanities projects. In addition to the obvious language barrier, an experiential barrier exists between my students and myself influencing how we perceive of and interact with technology. Because my students have never existed in a world without the modern web, they experience it differently than I do – this experience gap alters how my students and I use it and will influence the future development of the web.
My students have shown me a slightly different future than I had initially imagined, one where technology is viewed not with awe, but with practicality. For my students, technology serves a mundane, yet vital role in their daily lives. Those wishing to engage future generations in digital humanities must understand that technology and the web is not inherently captivating. So-called ‘digital natives’ do not necessarily share our same technological interests.
More than anything my time working with elementary school students has shown me that engagement, more than anything, requires an understanding of one’s audience.