TYdays at UCC – #dhty

Welcoming TY Students
Welcoming TY Students

Over four days in April, we hosted almost 200 Transition Year students for four days of workshops in Digital Humanities at UCC.  Each day we introduced a fresh batch of young learners to aspects of our DH practice here in UCC in a brisk run through digital learning, text markup and making with Arduinos

Digital tools can reshape learning. Much of my teaching in Digital Humanities at UCC explores how digital tools change pPersonal learning environment and networks, extending and altering traditional methods of research based learning.

Education..not filing a pail but lighting a fire
Education..not filling a pail but lighting a fire

I chose to focus on how digital tools can reshape learning. For the first day I stuck to presenting this via PowerPoint but on the later days I moved to using the tools on the iPad. I argue that the speed at which our world is changing demands that students master the skills necessary for self-directed learning, and in the presentation is stepped through the phases of research, analysis and writing, showing some of the digital tools I use and how they fit into the traditional workflow of researching and making sense of a complex problem. I demonstrated tools like Google Scholar for literature search and Zotero for gathering materials but emphasised digital annotation for active

Active reading by annotation and mindmapping on iPad
Active reading by annotation and mindmapping on iPad

reading on the iPad, mindmapping for capturing and reshaping information into new analyses and arguments.

Paul O’Shea working through markup languages. Very few of the students admitted to knowing basic HTML (that was not entirely true, as we found out!) so Paul stepped through several tools to explain markup. He used
W3Schools HTML Tutorial to teach HTML, emphasising that it was only for visual presentation of the material

W3Schools XML tutorials to demonstrate and teach markup that carries meaning, and we introduced the. To the concept of semantic markup.

TEI by Example to show more complex text markup

Codepen to show HTML, CSS and JavaScript working together.

In the hour and a quarter, even with groups who had no previous experience, we always got through HTML and XML, and made good inroads into TEI and Codepen, and showed Letters of 1916 as an example of a public digital history project.

Sara Wentworth is our Arduino wizard. Thanks to the CS folks, we have plenty of Arduino kits to share out so the students could work in groups of 3-5 on creating a simple traffic light using the Arduinos. None of the students had ever working with electronic components

Arduino Traffic Light - Example shared by Twitter
Arduino Traffic Light – Example shared by Twitter

previously so this was new territory for everyone but we usually got about half he room through to having a working traffic light, and we managed not to lose loads of small parts ! After the first day, we worked out that sharing the circuit diagrams through Twitter meant that everyone could see them more clearly that on the projector; a real practical and unplanned demonstration of how to use digital tools for knowledge sharing.

I hope the transition years learned something from the days; I know we did. We now have a much better appreciation of how quickly the up and coming generation can grasp and apply techniques which are at the heart of digital humanities and which will become important as the ‘Internet of Things’ emerges. No dry literature on ‘Digital natives’ is as useful as seeing them in action; this sort of event is crucial for us in understanding how we can prepare to provide stimulating intellectual challenges to help shape the skills of the new generation.

We will certainly do this again, but probably spread out over the year because four days in a row was hard work. Next year we should have our new teaching space in which we can do 6 or 8 days like this spread over the course of the year.

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