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Launching the Digital Humanities Movement at W&L

 – by Meredith McAllister

Washington and Lee faculty members Sara Sprenkle, Paul Youngman, Jeff Barry and Julie Knudson have published a case study on blended learning in the liberal arts. The case study was in response to requests for information about digital collaboration and blended and hybrid learning by Associated Colleges of the South and the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education.

The four colleagues — two professors, the associate librarian and the director of academic technologies —outlined the history of the establishment of digital humanities at W&L, with an eye on “best practices” that liberal arts colleges can use when developing such programs.

Suzanne Keen, dean of the college, envisions digital humanities helping students become more information-savvy and better able to work with digital artifacts and large data sets, because such skills will soon be the new standard in the humanities.

The primary focus and challenge of the digital humanities movement at W&L is adapting research-oriented digital practices as teaching strategies that enhance critical thinking and learning. To take on that challenge, faculty, Information Technology Services and the Library work closely to create courses that logically incorporate digital humanities components.

The digital humanities project is ongoing as the University continues to keep up with, and even pilot, new technologies and digital teaching methods. The case study will present models for future work, as well as spark important discussions about the role of digital technology in the liberal arts curriculum in the future.