DigiA&H at TechLogic Conference

As a part of the TechLogic mini-conference at UH Manoa, two members of the Initiative did short presentations based on their experiences teaching “Digital America,”(AMST 334)  in the department of American Studies.

Sean Trundle – “Gamifying Digital America”

Trundle’s presentation gave an overview of how he experimented with “gamification” (the integration of competitive and rewards-driven mechanisms into everyday tasks) in the DA course. Rather than setting up a fixed and concrete set of texts and resources for students to study, Trundle established various “missions” of increasing difficulty that required students to do their own research and subsequent presentations. In general Trundle considered the approach to be successful, primarily because students were directly engaged through media and approaches they were familiar with. However, Trundle faced various logistical challenges when it came to organizing and tracking the missions that points to one of the common needs faced by teachers that are working at the boundaries of the Digital Humanities: the necessity for a combination of prep time and customized management resources to best manage semester-long projects that are changing dynamically. Existing platforms such as Laulima are not up to the task of real-time tracking, and resources such as GitHub are beyond the scope of many students.

Sean Trundle is a recent Ph.D. graduate from the department of American Studies whose research focuses on the intersections of American cultural history, media studies, and the history of science and technology. His dissertation, ‘Hope and Anxiety on the Endless Frontier: Scientists, State Policy, and the Popular Imagination since 1945’ won the 2013 Biography prize for best dissertation in life writing, and he is also a recipient of the Frances Davis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.”

Download the Powerpoint slides here. (4.5MB)

David Goldberg – “Hashtags, Sampling, and Digital Production in the Humanities”

Goldberg, who also teaches Digital America, explored the possibilities of taking advantage of students’ fragmented approaches to thinking, by actively cultivating their familiarity with hashtags as indices, abbreviations, and mnemonics for larger knowledge structures. He began by looking at the hashtag trends that evolved in the wake of pop singer Beyoncé’s sampling of audio from Nigerian feminist author Chimananda Ngozi Adichie’s  TEDTalk for her song “***Flawless.” With the popular argument being that Béyonce is potentially exposing her audience to feminist ideas through sampling, the primary question is whether the logic of marketing that heavily influences the cognitive foundations of those aged 25 years and younger can actually be exploited to generate more academically-aligned knowledge. Goldberg explored online knowledge resources such as StackOverflow (a problem proposition and solution forum for programmers) as potential tools for classroom work.

Download the PDF of Goldberg’s slides here. (1.64MB)

David Goldberg is a trained software engineer and cultural critic who lectures in the American Studies department, and combines these two disciplines in the courses that he teaches on popular culture, digital america and hip hop in american culture. He is a curriculum developer, technologist and writer.