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DH Project Review

MLA Commons’ Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments

Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments hosted by the MLA Commons is a collection of curated and peer-reviewed resources for teachers, specifically higher education instructors, to find material for and examples of digital pedagogy. The site is a product of advisory board members, who come from a range of North American colleges and universities (as noted in a comment), editors, and contributors from the digital pedagogy and digital humanities fields who conceptualize and curate specific keywords. The site is designed to direct users easily to resources by categorizing the material under a list of 61 keywords, with keywords ranging from “Access” to “Visualization”. The site clearly states its purpose in its “Description” page as a space “to reach a broad audience in higher education, with particular appeal to experienced and novice teachers in the humanities, including those in digital humanities, writing, and rhetoric.”

Each paragraph on the site is numbered on the left of the text and has a comment bubble on the right of the text to allow for comments from readers. The comments option has only four fields of entry which make the comment feature efficient and manageable. Fortunately, the comments are not instantly posted but must be approved by moderator. Surprisingly, there seems to have been a specific time frame for commenting on the keywords because all the 61 keywords content pages display this statement: “The official reviewing period for this keyword has ended, and commenting is closed. You may also wish to read the description of the anthology, guidelines on how to comment, and the list of keywords.” Commenting is only open on the “Welcome”, “Description”,” How to Comment”, and “Keywords” pages, but not on each specific keyword content. This seems contradictory with the purpose of the site for peer-reviewed content. If the option to comment is closed, how can newer readers contribute and add to the archived features? There was also concern from previous readers about the “fossilization” of these materials and the need to find ways to continue contributing or at least updating the samples initially curated. The “commenting is closed” statement is a major concern for this site and threatens the equity of the information by creating a false impression of an open and current resource. Browsing through several keywords, I found some keywords such as “Hashtag” received no comment, or the keyword “Fiction” only received one comment, hence closing the comment option for each keyword limits the collaboration aspect of the site and creates a canonized-like archive.

Despite the concern of the “fossilization” the site provides multiple resources and projects in each keyword to help any teacher and even undergraduate learner to understand the rationale and connections of certain keywords in Humanities to the digital age. For example, in the keyword “Rhetoric” The Forest of Rhetoric at http://rhetoric.byu.edu/ is presented as one of the projects. This site is both beneficial to undergraduate students, teachers, as well as high school student. I have used this site previously to provide examples for students when introducing them to rhetorical concepts and have given them the site for reference. To see The Forest of Rhetoric archived in Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments reassures me of the usefulness of this digital pedagogy resource for multiple audiences, yet reminds me of the need for the more keywords and reopening the comments option.

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