Welcome to the Digital Past!
What does it look like when we apply digital technology to the study and writing of the past? How must we adapt how we study the past when we’re faced with millions of digitized primary and secondary sources—texts, newspapers, photographs, artifacts, maps, and more? What tools can help us make sense of this abundance?
As we attempt to answer these questions, this course will prepare you to use and understand a variety of current and emerging digital technologies, including maps, data sets, and visualizations. We’ll explore these technologies in the context of an upper-division history class. We’ll discuss how to find and use digital information for research, including how to write and publish effectively online. We’ll explore issues of ethics, copyright and information security, and experiment with various online tools and technologies. Additionally, we’ll cover advanced search methods and online publishing platforms. Over the course of the semester, students will use these technologies to create and publish one group narrative project and one individual research project (of their choosing) about crime in American history. To get at these skills, we’ll be focusing our historical study on the era known as the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (roughly 1870 to 1930) and will spend most of our time on the history of law and crime in Chicago during this time.
This course site is the only authoritative resource for the class. It houses all the information contained in this syllabus plus any additional class resources, links, slides, tools and reading & assignment updates. **You are responsible for checking the course site to stay ahead of the assignments.
We have two main learning goals. First, you will master the skills that make up the Mason Core Information Technology requirements. In this vein, you will:
- Use technology to locate, access, evaluate, and use information, and appropriately cite resources from digital/electronic media;
- Understand the core IT concepts in a range of current and emerging technologies and learn to apply them to a range of tasks;
- Understand many of the key ethical, legal, and social issues related to information technology, and how to interpret and comply with ethical principles, laws, regulations, and institutional policies;
- Demonstrate that you can communicate, create, collaborate effectively using state-of-the-art information technologies; and
- Understand the essential issues related to information security, how to take precautions and use techniques and tools to defend against computer crimes.
Second, you will learn to think differently about both “history” and the information you find online. You will learn to approach “history” as a historian would, by actively interrogating the information that is presented to you and finding meaning in that information. To accomplish this, we’ll be working primarily with online history sources and digital tools in an effort to publish original, analytical research projects. Your projects will answer a variety of “historical” questions about crime or crime patterns in American history and will be presented digitally.
Persistence and a willingness to try many approaches will be key to doing well in this course. For many, this work with digital tools will be a new experience and it is important to remember that a crucial part of learning is failing. Not every exercise may go successfully, and we may make mistakes. If you are willing to keep at it and try again, you will learn from the failures. I am always available to help should you find yourself stuck or falling behind.
Last updated: April 2, 2018 at 12:29 pm