Interested in the Digital Humanities and Social Sciences in your classroom but don’t know where to start?

With an AIF grant for the 2017-2018 academic year, the Office of the Vice Provost Academic and York University Libraries engaged in a unique collaboration managing the digitization and mobilization of four primary source collections aligned with the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC), Centre for Refugee Studies, and the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and Its Diasporas, and York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR). These digitizations resulted in four online archives, four online exhibits and six different document analysis samples that were designed as potential Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, or DHSS, assignments that a faculty member who had little to no DHSS experience could bring into their classrooms.

The digitization of the resources from the research centres has provide a rich repository of online resources devoted to the humanities and social sciences

Recognizing that DHSS can seem like a intimating field to engage in if you don’t know coding – but also recognizing that DHSS holds many experiential learning opportunities for students – the AIF grant was directed toward the development of an Instructor’s Guide to better explore the experiential meaning making potential of DHSS as a teaching and learning strategy.

In other words, no coding is needed! Instead, digital tools and technologies were presented in this guide as ways to augment and expand the ways students can make meaning, use evidence, and develop and present an argument. The meaning making potential of DHSS come in through the products students create and make in the digital sphere, but also in the process of how they create multimedia arguments supported by primary source data. It is this focus on process that leads students to learn experientially, learn from experience, by engaging in DHSS.

Doing Digital Humanities and Social Sciences in Your Classroom is a York University Pressbook, an Open Educational Resource (OER) providing pedagogical support to faculty interested in the theory and practice behind DHSS. The Guide provides nine unique “Assignment Guides” introducing faculty to specific DHSS assignments that could be used to augment, or even replace, a more traditional assignment, such as an essay. Oral history digital stories, proving or disproving an argument, or creating an online exhibit are all samples that the Guide identifies as potential assignments that could be brought into the class as a small (15%) or large (55%) assignment. These Assignment Guides were developed from work done by students who had limited experience with DHSS, as such they are grounded in the realities of what is possible for a student to engage in during a term.

Doing Digital Humanities and Social Sciences in Your Classroom will be piloted until November 1 and as such comments and recommendations are encouraged. More importantly however, consultations and workshops directly related to the Guide will be available throughout September and October. To book a consultation on bringing DHSS into your classroom or a workshop on how the different assignments could support experiential learning, contact Samantha Cutrara, curriculum specialist, Office of the Vice Provost Academic at Cutrara@yorku.ca. Note, however, that both York University Libraries and the Teaching Commons are available year round to support digital queries and experiential learning respectively.

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