Humanities + Social Sciences + Technology = Exciting Course for Students

Faculty and staff across disciplines collaborated this spring on a cutting-edge course, Thinking Digitally, which applies digital tools and research methods to the humanities and social sciences. Student group final projects included creating a sound archive of music emanating from the Whitman music building practice rooms and compiling a collection of margin doodles made by Whitman students into an open-source web-publishing platform. Instructors and students offer their perspective on this latest example of innovative teaching and learning at Whitman. -Staff report

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"Thinking Digitally charts new territory at Whitman, inviting faculty and staff teaching the course into exciting lines of inquiry. What kinds of questions can technology help us ask in the humanities that we can’t ask in the traditional/conventional ways? What does it mean to engage students with technology in a humanities course in deep and pedagogically effective ways? The students loved the course, and we’re excited to keep exploring these concepts!

David Sprunger ’96,
director of instructional and learning technology

"We emphasize using technology to do things that aren’t originally statistical or quantitative in nature—for example, rather than thinking about visualizing quantitative data on maps, we discuss ways of using maps in a creative way—to tell a story or organize archival information. Another facet has been the concept of ‘distan reading’ or using computers to analyze vast corpora of text to inspire literary or language-based analysis."

Emily Jones,
assistant professor of German and environmental humanities

“As a junior art major with a focus in new genres, I’m fascinated by the use of technology for creative applications. Having instructors join in on small group discussions in any given class session means that we get more contact with staff and professors whose perspectives come from a wide variety of departments and areas of expertise.”

Mercer Hanau ’18,
art major

phone“There is value in learning to communicate through a myriad of forms and mediums that accommodate various types of learners. We live in a world that is becoming increasingly digitally savvy and technologically dependent, and this course is providing me with tools to communicate and engage with a broad audience, while simultaneously being critical of the downfalls of those very tools.”

Claire Revere ’17,
film and media studies/environmental humanities double major

"It begins to open up digital literacy to Whitman students as a key element of the liberal arts. It works to help students interpret their digitally saturated world and to creatively and analytically interact with it."

Sharon Alker,
associate professor of English and general studies

"I’ve been exposed to many interesting technologies and resources that can be
used to tell stories in engaging, new ways. I’ve also gained a more robust interpretational framework for approaching digital media critically, an important skill as many of our interactions are increasingly mediated digitally."

North Bennett ’18,
environmental humanities major