HUM2DH3: Introduction to Digital Humanities

Winter 2022 | Dr. Amanda Montague

In Dr. Amanda Montague‘s third session of HUM2DH3: Creative, Collaborative, Critical: Approaches to Digital Humanities, McMaster University undergraduates developed their skills as digital storytellers.

After introducing students to digital storytelling through class discussions, foundational digital humanities scholarship, and practical workshops, the class put their new skills to the test by creating two digital stories.

Screenshot of a podcast embedded on a webpage. Black and white photo shows a university student. Text above the media player bar reads My Return to McMaster by Mehak Tariq.
One of the podcasts created by Amanda’s undergraduate students. Listen here.

First, students used Audacity software to create podcasts about life during COVID-19. In the process, they gained valuable skills including audio recording and audio editing. As the final assignment, the class authored a digital story on a topic of their choice.

As Amanda notes, it was important that “students have the freedom to create digital storytelling projects on topics that are relevant to them, their life experience, or their communities. This approach helps students make meaningful connections between lived experience, the theoretical concerns of the class, and practical applications of digital tools.”

Omeka logo
Students had the option to work with Omeka, a digital exhibit platform that Dr. Montague helped bring to the McMaster campus.

With this foundation in place, students built digital exhibits with Omeka, created interactive maps with ArcGIS Story Maps, assembled virtual tours with ThingLink, and more. Across these projects, students returned to the course’s central theme of place in a remote learning environment.

Amanda urged students to consider their personal ties to local and global communities, as well as the differences between their connections and the connections of their classmates. In Amanda’s words, “rather than having students engage with one community together, they [were] able to share and learn from the diverse communities where they are each located.”

In line with these principles, 2DH3 also saw Amanda centre rubric design and course expectations on the student experience. Instead of a top-down model, Amanda worked in collaboration with her students to collectively define authentic learning during COVID-19 and give students the opportunity to help determine the course’s grading criteria.

An image of Dr. Amanda Montague. She is wearing a white shirt and standing in front of a beige brick wall.
Dr. Montague, the instructor of 2DH3.

By centring concepts including collaboration, inclusion, and accessibility, Amanda’s course empowered students to consider themselves as researchers in their own right. As she writes, “Asking students to think creatively about digital tools, methods, and contexts prepares them for diverse digital work environments and empowers them as critical content producers, recognizing the complex relationship between technology and power.”