Kenneth Myers

The first thing I would like to make note of is our experience in our DH class because my experiences have contributed to my opinion on if DH should be taught at the undergraduate level.  Walking into this class was like walking into a foreign country.  I had no idea what this class was going to be like.  Questions like what kind of terminology is critical in DH, what is DH, what are the major topics within DH, as well as many other other questions filled my mind.  I assumed that DH was simply going to mean that we read a bunch of literature online or we watched projects within the humanities via digital media.  My idea was very simple minded to say the least.  As I walked into class on the first day I realized that I had signed up for much more than I originally thought.  DH was going to require me to think in depth about a multitude of topics (should have I expected anything less from a Bloomsburg University honors class?).  We began to discuss topics that I had never heard of or at least never gave much thought to.  Topics like XML, copyright, text analysis, Google analytics, incorporation of visualizations, crowdsourcing, and much much more blew my mind.  The articles and videos that we watched and read began to make me think deeper about my part in digital humanities.  Before I knew it we were at the end of the semester making our own digital humanities project and discussing the format of our final.  I had never had this opportunity before so it was certainly an interesting experience.  For those reading this I suggest that you view the rest of the posts regarding how we arrived at the decision to do a group post on the question “should digital humanities be taught at the undergraduate level.”  So enough for the background and on to the answer of the question.

As I previously stated DH is a complicated topic.  As we learned in the beginning of the course DH has no specific definition and there is no black and white.  It takes a motivated individual to comprehend the plethora of ideas that DH incorporates.  In addition to this point we learned that a key component in the DH community is crowdsourcing.  In a sense these are two opposing points.  Crowdsourcing for those who don’t know is asking for contributions from a crowd of people (crowd being the general public or possibly a more specific group of people).  Taking this definition into account we can say that everyone in the general public is not necessarily motivated (please keep in mind that I am a Chemistry major so I work based on logical and mathematical functions).  If DH takes a motivated person to study it and not all of the general public studying DH is motivated, then not all of the general public should study it.  In other words, if DH is going to be taught at the undergraduate level there needs to be some sort or restriction on who is taking it.  I remember reading articles from Clay Shirky, Richard Dawkins, and Sherry Terkel regarding how computers are changing the way we think and within those articles I remember seeing the authors state that a large amount of rubbish is posted on the internet (the internet being an important tool for digital humanists).  If people are not motivated in this topic either they will neglect to post or the posts that they do complete will likely be “rubbish”.  Personally I do not believe that our class could have worked effectively if other classmates did not complete the assignments (by complete the assignments I mean put educated and relevant thought into their posts.  I know this may be a lot to follow because I am making assumptions and drawing inferences but this is how a scientist functions.  I agree that the field of digital humanities needs opinions from people with different backgrounds but I believe these people need to be educated and want to continue learning.  Our class is composed of honors students (students that have proven they want to learn based on their high school education), which means we may not be an example of the entire college community at Bloomsburg University.  We are considered to be students that want to do well in course because we want to learn, not just because we want a good grade.  I do not want people to think that I am egotistical but different people have different priorities and levels of maturity. Honors students are among the group that places education above all else and maintain a high maturity level.  Based on the facts and inferences previously mentioned I believe that digital humanities should be taught at the undergraduate level but there should be restrictions or guidelines about who can take the course.  In my personal opinion I believe that digital humanities should be a general education course ranked as a 300 level course and students who apply should have to meet a gpa requirement (maybe a 2.5-4.0).  I believe that this gpa is a reasonable requirement for students to have to meet.  In addition the professor must be open to changes in the syllabus.  There are a variety of different ways to approach the class and it is too early to tell what the best method may be to teach this class.  As a whole I the key point to take from this is that digital humanities is a subject that the up and coming generations have grown up with and they should be presented with alternative ways of looking at the material so that they can in every way possibly use it to their advantage.  So in conclusion, we must consider that not everyone is ready (in terms of their maturity or priorities) to take this course, but we should certainly offer this class to deserving undergraduate students.

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