What is Digital Pedagogy?

Digital pedagogy, an aspect of digital scholarship and digital humanities (DH), is the deeply considered and conscious incorporation of digital tools, concepts, and methods into teaching. Digital pedagogy ranges in scope and complexity. It can involve simple assignments, larger individual student projects, or a single project to which an entire class contributes. It can also involve the creation or redesign of a class so that it incorporates digital pedagogy methods throughout. When done in the humanities, such a class would likely be considered to be a DH class and would possibly involve critical discussions about the implications of certain methods and tools being used for humanities scholarship. 

Why Digital Pedagogy?

Digital pedagogy can be a compliment to or an alternative to traditional coursework, e.g., writing papers, as it gives students a different way into course materials, potentially sparks new interest, and gives learners with less conventional approaches another way of working that might be more conducive to their learning and communication styles. It more easily enables students to approach course content through a multitude of lenses including, but not limited to, spatial, temporal, and exhibitive. Digital pedagogy presents an opportunity for students to learn how to think more critically about digital tools and methods–the way in which algorithms reinforce bias, the way in which data visualization can be skewed to misrepresent the data–and if the work is public (e.g., a digital exhibit) it is an opportunity for students to learn about what it means to create public scholarship and how scholarship can go beyond the boundaries of academia. Lastly but equally important, digital pedagogy assignments and projects can require students to learn a multitude of literacies (e.g., information literacy, data literacy, digital literacy, and visual literacy), work collaboratively, navigate intellectual property rights, and, of course, learn technology skills. 

Where to begin?

Before embarking on any kind of digital pedagogy endeavor, it’s important for an instructor to ask oneself, “Why?” Is there a way that working digitally will elevate or increase the learning outcomes? Will digital pedagogy foster experimentation and deeper critical thinking? If the answer is yes or maybe consider the following:

  • Talk to your subject librarian or the Digital Scholarship Librarian for instruction, MelanieHubbard.
  • See the DS Handbook Digital Pedagogy section, which provides tips on curriculum design as well as addresses issues ranging from accessibility to grading.
  • Explore examples to learn more about the possibilities. (see below)

If the answer is, no, incorporating digital pedagogy into the curriculum might not be the best approach, as it could make the work more complicated than it needs to be for both the students and for the instructor. This says nothing of the assignment or project except that a digital pedagogy approach was not fitting. In the end, it’s not about digital or analog, it’s all about what advances teaching, learning, and scholarship.

Digital Pedagogy Examples

There are numerous digital pedagogy examples out there. You can find a number of them at the University of Michigan’s Digital Pedagogy Repository and the  #DLFteach Toolkit. The BC Digital History libguide can also help faculty from multiple disciplines imagine possibilities. A few examples by the author include:

Mapping Parable of the Sower (Basic mapping)

The Watts Collection (Digital collection creation)

Evolution of International Policy and Policy Areas (Timeline)

Introduction to Voyant (Text analysis)

Archives, Race, and Justice (Digital storytelling)

(See more)