[Humanist] 24.523 a step change?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Nov 26 10:46:36 CET 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 523.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2010 14:11:03 -0000
        From: "Stephen Woodruff" <s.woodruff at arts.gla.ac.uk>
        Subject: step change?
        In-Reply-To: <20101122063828.B3F6AAEBD3 at woodward.joyent.us>

Has any other teacher of "digital humanities" noticed a step-change in
their students' facility with machines?

We have been glibly referring to digital natives for years, and its true
that now students have grown up alongside the digital world. Maybe they
haven't, until now, been IN it? 

As in past several years the second year undergrads had a class
exercise: sketch a simple expert system which directs the user how to
get from here to a place in Edinburgh then implement it as a set of web
pages. Start with "do you have a car?" and if the answer is no ask "do
you prefer bus or train?" and take it from there. 

They've been taught to write HTML in Notepad, and for the last 5 years
they've each dutifully produced web pages each with a question and a
pair of yes and no links to the appropriate pages. 

Now. After 10 minutes a few had pencil and paper but one was using
Google Docs diagram editor, one another few drawanywhere.com to make
their sketches. I asked why. -no pen, they said.

Arts & Social Sciences students. No pen... But no problem, to them. One
was using Dreamweaver, which they hadn't been shown. I asked if she knew
the program. - no, but it seemed a good place to start learning. Another
was linking Google Maps to pages and copying its walking times for the
'how to get to the bus stop' section. A row of students discussed who
would go out and photograph the bus stop "with Hatii in the background".
This is a change. Is it just this cohort? My excellent teaching? Any
experience of this elsewhere in digital humanities or other fields? 

Stephen Woodruff
Humanities Advanced Technology & Information Institute 
11 University Gardens
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ

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