Student-Driven Digital History

towards a modular framework with documentation

@fredgibbs | univ. new mexico


Local Observations

    My history classes (not just DH ones) have tended toward digital public history projects

    Building is more fun than grading (and teaches more)

    Engaging students with ongoing projects is better than fantasizing about sustainability plans

Global(?) Observations

    More instructors are helping students make websites or contribute to digital projects

    More instructors want to learn how to gain more control and aggregate work over time

    Wild WWWest with little standardization

    (re)duplicated effort

    Little reusability

Key Question

How to collectively facilitate student-driven digital history projects?

Options for DIY DH sites

Interface-driven sites

Some advantages

  • almost zero startup cost
  • easy administrative tools
  • ubiquitous

Some drawbacks

  • complex interfaces for simple tasks
  • too much document abstraction
  • reusing components is hard
  • siloing

Static sites

Some advantages

  • file based
  • preservation
  • precision/customization
  • experimentation
  • modularity

Some drawbacks

  • non-trivial start-up costs
  • troubleshooting rabbit holes
  • ongoing commitment

A history of fiddling

A beginning...

  • GitHub as repository for course work (?!)
  • It worked! [here]

Why GitHub?

  • free
  • minimum overhead
  • ubiquitious and stable
  • direct file access & editing
  • fosters collaboration
  • content + form [example]

Level up

Broader community engagement...

Local community engagement...

Variation on a theme...

Why GitHub Pages for Student Projects?

Digital Pedagogy & Digital Literacy

Digital Writing

  • avoid clunky HTML by using Markdown
  • use dillingerto learn Markdown syntax
  • extol values plain text
  • practice with a text editor like atom

Collaborative Values

  • accountability
  • peer review
  • mutual teaching & learning
  • transparency
  • community engagement

Digital Publishing

  • exploration
  • product + process
  • self-enforced peer review
  • open and public histories

Instructor payoffs

  • expansible digital projects
  • engagement with broad range of DH issues
  • critical reflexive practice
  • ongoing collaboration for digital public history

Key Question

How to collectively facilitate student-driven digital history projects?

Another beginning? jekylton


  • Non-zero tech investment is better
  • Similar frameworks are better
  • Modularity is better
  • Transparency is better
  • Process over platform

This is not for everyone!

But helps integrate DH into more courses

Future Modular Enhancments

  • typographic features
  • embedded maps
  • social media feeds
  • Zotero bibliographies

Ongoing Questions...

...please help.

  • how to get past intimidation?
  • how to not stop?
  • how much reuse is possible?
  • how much centralization is useful?
  • where & how should docs be organized?

What can we build together?

Thank you