Cultivating Digital Skills and New Learning Spaces

May 17th, 2010 |

UPDATE: Rough notes from this session (co-led by Tanya Clement, Ethan Watrall, Brian Croxall, Jeff McClurken and many others) can be found at

My proposal seems to mesh well with some of the other teaching-related proposals already seen (Bill Ferster’s on visualization, Dave Parry’s on teaching collaborative learning, and the extra question Rob Nelson asks at the end of his post about what we should be teaching students in undergraduate DH classes).  I want to talk more broadly about what are the (digital) skills that we think people need to have today, as well as 5-10 years from now.   To some extent, we might build on Howard Rheingold and Cathy Davidson’s discussions of 21st-century literacies, but I think THATCampers can come up with more than just a list but also some ideas about how we might cultivate these skills among not just students, but faculty, cultural history institutions, and archivists.  DH seems like a natural fit, but are there things DHers miss or overemphasize about what will matter in the years to come?

A second major issue, perhaps worthy of a separate session if there’s interest, regards classroom design for the future:  What should the physical space for learning include looking forward?  What are our minimum expectations?  Does the physical classroom matter any more?  For how long and in what ways will/should it change?  I’m still mulling (see my post here for one exploration of these ideas), but this could well be something that goes beyond classrooms to something like “learning spaces of the future” that would combine the physical and intellectual space that classrooms, libraries, and museums occupy now and in the years to come.

Finally, I’d like to propose an ongoing conversation, if not a session.  [In fact I could see this being a theme of the discussions over coffee in the hallways between sessions, over lunch, or over stronger beverages later.]  I propose that we devote at least some of our time at THATCamp to the question of how to address a constant refrain for those of us trying to encourage our colleagues to embrace at least some of the technology that we use: “I’m not doing anything new until all technology works.”  In other words, this would be a discussion of how to innovate when the infrastructure isn’t working, OR how do we avoid changing printer cartridges when we want to be changing the academy/institution/museum/archive/library?

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3 Responses to “Cultivating Digital Skills and New Learning Spaces”

  1. THATCamp 2010 » Blog Archive Says:

    […] may also join in the conversations proposed by Jeffrey McClurken and Chad Black, to raise the questions of where and how libraries and museums fit in to classrooms […]

  2. Derek Bruff Says:

    “Does the physical classroom matter any more?” This is a question worth asking, but I’m convinced the answer is “yes.” The 150 minutes or so of class time we have with our students each week is precious time. It’s the only time when everyone in the learning community (students and instructor) are together in the same place. As much as I’m a fan of meaningful out-of-class learning experiences, I think it’s important to make the most of that precious time in class together. And that requires a usable design for the physical classroom.

    Have fun at THATCamp! I’ll be following along on Twitter.

  3. briancroxall Says:

    I feel badly that I didn’t have time to read Jeff’s or Rob’s posts before I wrote my own (very late) post about wanting to talk about how we teach our students transferable skills. But I’m glad to discover so many of us are barking up the same tree.

    Classroom design seems like a potentially interesting conversation, and I’d love to see what gets brought up beyond the predictable: reconfigurable/movable furniture, wi-fi access, white boards, projectors, and the like. Moreover, how can we best encourage people–ourselves included–to not simply reproduce old patterns of pedagogy within the re-oriented spaces (since, after all, movable chairs can be placed in rows as easily as anything else).


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