Tag Archives: Lauren Wilwerding

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Final Digital Scholarship Incubator Reflections: Lauren Wilwerding

This post is part of a series of final reflections from 2017 Digital Scholarship Incubator participants.

Lauren Wilwerding: When I completed my application for the Digital Scholarship Incubator, I had a seemingly simple goal – to create a digital close reading assignment for students in my literature core. The pay-off would be designing an assignment that could be improved upon and repeated, in my own classes as well as by other teachers. I hoped the methodology would be a way for me to bridge the intimate, tactile experience of close reading so central to English literature and the linked and richly networked world of the digital humanities.

Since beginning I have learned that a platform already exists to do the sort of digital close reading I had in mind. More importantly, I have learned that the existence of this platform (hypothes.is) does not mean that the “designing” work is done for me. While previously I would have thought of designing a DH project as a technical venture, I have come to see it more holistically. In my case, in order to develop an assignment that achieves all of my classroom goals, the platform is merely a tool in for which I need to design a series of activities to make the most of it.

Prior to starting the Incubator, my understanding of digital humanities was very focused on the digital aspect – coding, programming, technical skills. Now, I have come to focus more on the humanities aspect. How can we use digital platforms and tools to serve humanities inquiries? I have been pleasantly surprised that the questions we have asked in the Incubator are familiar to me as a humanist. The Incubator has done the work of bridging my own experiences with the world of DH.

During the course of the Incubator, I have come to be more focused on my future students, as both collaborators and evaluators. By completing the assignment, my students will provide content for the project and also help me discover the ways that it can be improved. In other words, the “designing” of my DH project will be on-going each time I use it to teach. By responding to the assignment, my students will also become my audience. Is it truly interactive? Which prompts generate discussion and which don’t? How does the digital platform enhance the classroom experience?

What initially seemed like a very contained project, now seems iterative. I look forward to incorporating student feedback into successive versions.

Vincent Perrone, Robin Eggs. Used under a CC-BY-NC license.

Digital Scholarship Incubator Reflections: Lauren Wilwerding

This post is part of a series of reflections from 2017 Digital Scholarship Incubator participants.

Lauren Wilwerding: In each of the courses I have taught I have challenged myself to incorporate digital mediums and assignments, both to challenge myself and learn alongside my students. Often, even with preparation and reflection, the value of the digital aspect of the assignment is not consistently clear to me or my students. When using MediaKron in a composition class, I found that some students benefitted from rethinking their writing for a web-platform, while others thought it was busywork. Since I was learning alongside them, I struggled to recuperate the assignment for those who found it cumbersome.

When I heard about the Digital Scholarship Incubator, I was drawn in by the opportunity to dedicate time to designing a pedagogical project. I am teaching lit core in the spring, and it occurred to me that developing a method of digital close reading could provide one more access point to bring a central aspect of literary studies alive for students. I love the idea of pairing DH, often associated with “data” and distant reading, with the intimate practice of close reading a sentence of a paragraph. During the first session, it became clear to me that platforms already exist to do what I had in mind. I find this to be a huge advantage – it allows me to spend the next seven-plus weeks learning a platform and designing an assignment that will make the best use of it. It’s important to me that the digital aspect of the assignment enhances what is already happening in the classroom rather than becoming a distraction or an obstacle.

In our first session, I also realized that some practices I use in my research already draw on digital humanities tools and methods – I just don’t have the specific language to describe what I am doing to a DH audience. My secondary goal is the develop this vocabulary so that I can ask the right questions to improve my digital research techniques and find out how to bring them into the classroom.