Starting today, I have to begin focusing on a new class I am teaching this semester: The Digital Historian. This is a 1 hour class for history majors that I was able to get through the approval process about a year and a half ago. I wanted to make it a standard 3 hour class, but for various curricular reasons, it wound up being a 1 hour class. What drove me to think about creating this class were 2 things: 1) as technology (both hardware and software) advances, academics are finding new and innovative ways to "borrow" or adopt these new advances to their disciplines; and 2) my students (and my colleagues for that matter) have an unbelievable range of computer abilities from students who want to turn in handwritten research papers to students building and scripting in SL. So, in a quixotic quest to try to drag some of our students into the digital age I decided to create an introductory course to what has been loosely called "Digital History."
As part of IUP’s curricular approval process, I had to find similar classes at other universities and colleges. My starting point was the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. I was always impressed by Dr. Roy Rosenzweig’s work and the energy he brought to his work. Because of this research, I even used one of his books for my Introduction to History class. I was saddened this fall to learn of Dr. Rosenzweig’s passing. Using the information available from the Center for History and New Media, I quickly created a course that would require about 4 semesters and need to meet 15-20 hours a week. I then had to remove things and bring it back to an introductory class that met 3 times a week and then had to cut it back even further. The result is a kitchen sink course that will focus on exposure – breadth not depth. I don’t think this is a bad thing, in fact it might work out quite well – or crash spectacularly.