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From the 128th Annual Meeting column of the November 2013 issue of Perspectives on History

New Challenges, New Opportunities: Digital History at AHA 2014

Seth Denbo, November 2013

Digital history is no longer the next big thing. From digitized primary sources in the undergraduate classroom to high-­level computational analysis of vast quantities of historical data, the use of digital tools and resources is providing a wealth of opportunities for research, teaching and scholarly communication in history. The opportunities are reflected in a growing interest in the possibilities offered by digital scholarship, and the breadth of interesting and innovative panels on digital history at the upcoming annual meeting. Sessions and digital events are aimed at providing newcomers with introductions to the use of digital tools and methods and further embedding digital methods in historical scholarship.

A major area of growing interest is the use of digital tools and methods in the classroom. The use of digital tools and resources in teaching contexts allows innovative approaches to teaching history that develop a broad range of skills and experiences. Digital history in the undergraduate classroom, project based learning, the use of digital methods to teach history outside of the classroom, and teaching critical thinking in a digital age are all topics addressed in panels and roundtables this year.

Several panels this year focus on research and postgraduate education. Historians of the recent past are faced with new types of sources, with social media playing a part in fomenting and recording historical events; a number of papers this year explore the use of online content as primary source material. There is also a two-­part session how digital innovation is transforming graduate education.

Panels also cover some of the more controversial aspects of the academy's entrée into the digital age-­including two that address the impact of MOOCs on the historical profession, and a roundtable on the opportunities and challenges posed by the growth of open access publishing in the humanities and social sciences.

In addition to the regular sessions, there will be a preconference workshop, "How to Get Started in Digital History," which will bring together newcomers to digital history with representatives of major projects and other experts in the field to explore methods in teaching, research, and communication. 

We are excited to be hosting a THATCamp again this year. News about this event, and more information about the events described above, is available on AHA Today. We are eagerly anticipating all of the digital sessions and activities at the meeting this year and look forward to seeing you there.

—Seth Denbo is the AHA's director of scholarly communications and digital initiatives.

Digital History Sessions
at the Annual Meeting

The Future of Graduate Education, Part 1, The Digitally Informed Dissertation: New Questions, New Kinds of Research
Thursday, January 2, 2014, 3:30-­5:30 p.m.
Thurgood Marshall Ballroom East (Marriott Wardman Park)

Publishing History Digitally: New Formats, New Audiences, and New Challenges
Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 8:30-­10:00 a.m.
Thurgood Marshall Ballroom North (Marriott Wardman Park)

Teaching Critical Thinking in an Increasingly Digital Age: Strategies, Struggles, and Success Stories
Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 8:30-­10:00 a.m. 
Virginia Suite A (Marriott Wardman Park)

Virtual Reality and Historical Practice
Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 10:30 a.m.-­12:00 p.m.
Thurgood Marshall Ballroom West (Marriott Wardman Park)

Digital History: Where Is It Headed? Part 1, Digital History in (and out of) the Classroom
Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 10:30 ­a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Thurgood Marshall Ballroom East (Marriott Wardman Park)

How Should Historians Respond to MOOCs?
Sponsored by the AHA Teaching Division 
Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 2:30-­4:30 p.m.
Virginia Suite B (Marriott Wardman Park)

Digital History: Where Is It Headed? Part 2, Digital History: New Research Questions/New Opportunities/New Pitfalls
Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 2:30-­4:30 p.m.
Thurgood Marshall Ballroom East (Marriott Wardman Park)

Close Encounters of the Social Media Kind: Mining Online Content for Primary Sources, Part 1: Unmediated Voices, Mediated Platforms: Seeking the "Other" through Social Media
Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, 9:00-­11:00 a.m.
Thurgood Marshall Ballroom East (Marriott Wardman Park)

The Future of Graduate Education, Part 2, Faculty Perspectives on the Dissertation Format
Saturday, January 4, 2014, 9:00-­11:00 a.m.
Thurgood Marshall Ballroom South (Marriott Wardman Park)

Close Encounters of the Social Media Kind: Mining Online Content for Primary Sources, Part 2: Navigating the Profession when Bits Rot, MOOCs attract, and Social Media Become History
Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, 11:30-­ a.m. -­1:30 p.m.
Thurgood Marshall Ballroom East (Marriott Wardman Park)

Doing Digital History with Undergraduates
Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, 2:30-­4:30 p.m.
Thurgood Marshall Ballroom East (Marriott Wardman Park)

Chronicling America: Using Historic Digital Newspapers for Teaching and Research
Sunday, January 5, 2014, 8:30-­10:30 a.m.
Washington Room 6 (Marriott Wardman Park)

Open Access and Publishing in History and the Social Sciences: Opportunities and Challenges
Sponsored by the AHA Research Division
Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 2:30-­4:30 p.m.
Washington Room 5 (Marriott Wardman Park)