Not that doing DH is all that new; think of your friends who use Zotero for their own research. I've introduced Z to my students, and they are using it as they work on their lit reviews etc.. And they love it. But I want to use digital projects as means of assessment. So I am exploring what others have done, and what might be usable for me.
There's lots of cool stuff being done. Richmond has some very cool examples, and there are lots of tutorials on using the freeware and web-based stuff. Far too many to link, but you can just search digital storytelling examples or digital storytelling apps or whatever. And encounter a whole $hitload of examples and help and tutorials and horror stories. I've not looked at the horror stories, as I have a very good imagination... (did you know that there's a search engine just for apps?!)
Yesterday, I spent the day at the Big State R1 down the road. They were having a digital learning mini-conference, showcasing their faculty's use of the digital in tehir classrooms. R1 should be ashamed of itself. First, the attendance was abysmal. Even with our group? Maybe 50 people total - that on a campus that has 1500+ faculty. And the poor quality of the teaching was very much showcased. My own pet peeve is bad power point: text-filled slides that are then read to the audience, complex tables that cannot be read from the first row, distracting transitions. And for a conference on technology? Really poor technology. Apparently there is ONE really tech-friendly classroom on their (enormous) campus, but what they had in the lovely conference center was barely adequate. Presenters that used up time by not knowing how to use their own tech or having it set up before the session began. I demand more of my freshmen that what these 'pros' did: preparation, planning, clarity, organization. As a friend from RNU noted - you could really see the difference between a faculty that focuses on teaching, and one that regards teaching as secondary or tertiary to their mission. The best thing about the conference was the weather (glorious), the company (our RNU group rare see each other on our own campus, and we hung around together) and the discovery that we're not far behind the biggest, baddest university in the state. So hah!
Now, from what I've learned thus far, digital projects have some very cool aspects that make them a bit different from the standard history paper. The most intriguing on this list is that students revise more - they have to use the same skills as writing a paper (research, citations, organization, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, creating an interpretation) but we all know that frequently they do those things badly. And the result, for me, has usually been that when it comes to getting started, they start late, and hate to draft, redraft, review, revise, tinker. What had not occurred to me is that they were writing basically to me; nobody read it beyond me. I'd read, groan, grade, return, and it would end there. Even requiring drafts rarely got the desired re-works. However - and I think this is fascinating - the students who've done digital projects recognize a broader audience. They recount that a huge difference is that they a) see what others are doing; b) know that others (friends, family, classmates) will see what they've done and c) thus review, revise and tinker like mad. And by being able to draw on existing resources of links, videos, images, etc. - the end products are far more interesting to all involved.
I've discovered that I don't really mind reading advanced papers, and might someday again even enjoy working with students to improve their writing. Gave up requiring papers in my survey classes years ago - and exams - but this! This accomplishes my goals (critical thinking, finding reliable sources, creating a well organized study that presents an argument/analysis in a coherent communication) without me having to wade through pages of drivel. Students actually hear themselves making the grammatical and syntactical mistakes and go in and fix them! They write, revise, research, revise, synthesize across a variety of sources, write, write, write. Wheee. So I'm gonna try it. I just have to figure out how to scaffold it all.