Academic Technology teams up with History Department, Bok Center, and Harvard Library to offer first Digital Teaching Seminar

September 3, 2016
Academic Technology teams up with History Department, Bok Center, and Harvard Library to offer first Digital Teaching Seminar

On August 29 and 30, HUIT Academic Technology offered its inaugural Digital Teaching Seminar, a two-day interactive event dedicated to providing a hands-on introduction to technologies and technological approaches that are becoming more commonly used in both teaching and research. Attendees in this first iteration included faculty and 2016-17 Digital Teaching Fellows (DiTFs), participants in a program dedicated to the thoughtful integration of technology into teaching and learning that was launched by the History Department and supported by HUIT Academic Technology.

Planning for the seminar was led by Academic Technology senior instructional technologist Brandon Bentley, with support from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. The event, which was held in Harvard Hall 202, one of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences' newly-renovated active learning rooms, introduced faculty and graduate student participants to several technological tools and approaches, with an emphasis on effectively integrating them into teaching and assignments. The team-taught seminar was led by experts from Academic Technology for FAS, Arts and Humanities Research Computing, the Harvard Map Collection, the History department, and the Bok Center.

The seminar began with an introduction to the technological landscape and the importance of the thoughtful integration of technology, led by associate director of academic technology Jeff Emanuel, with an emphasis on avoiding the "shoehorning" of technology into a course syllabus by maintaining a focus on intentionality and learning goals. From there, attendees participated in a "syllabus workshop," led by Bok Center associate director Pamela Pollock and Academic Technology instructional technologist Rebecca Miller, in which they discussed their courses' structure and assignments with an eye toward identifying sections and assignments that could benefit from the integration of technological tools or approaches. This session concluded with an interactive "gallery walk" in which each participant explained the mechanics of their course.

Following this, five sessions thematic sessions were held, with each focusing on a toolset or approach. These included sessions on:

  • Annotation Tools, led by Shannon Rice, Academic Technology senior product owner, and Rebecca Miller, instructional technologist with Academic Technology for FAS
  • Omeka, led by Christopher Morse, senior humanities research computing specialist, and Jeremy Guillette, digital scholarship facilitator in the History Department
  • Timeline Tools and Approaches, led by Brandon Bentley
  • Mapping with CartoDB, led by Bonnie Burns, head of geospatial resources at the Harvard Map Collection
  • Working with Regular Expressions, led by Jeremy Guillette and Christopher Morse

The two-day event concluded with a wrap-up roundtable dedicated to reinforcing the principles covered in the introductory session, re-walking the gallery of course structure, and allowing participants time to complete a survey about their experience. Attendee feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with 100% of attendees saying that the seminar met their expectations, that they would welcome more advanced follow-on training with the presented technologies, and that they would recommend this seminar to a colleague.

One respondent said that the seminar gave them "a greater awareness of tools and resources that exist so that I a) will know where to go to make an assignment possible, and will be more conscious of what is available when I am thinking about designing an assignment." Another said, "I will certainly be referring to the tools and resources I learned about these past two days going forward in any future DiTF role I may have here at Harvard, but also any other teaching I may do," while a third described the seminar as "a really helpful introduction to a number of digital tools" whose "biggest benefits have been (1) feeling more oriented as to what tools are out there and (2) knowing that there are people that I can reach out to for more help."

HUIT Academic Technology plans to offer a second iteration of the Digital Teaching Seminar in late Fall 2016.