Session Information

AHA Session 83
Friday, January 8, 2016
10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Regency Ballroom VI (Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Lower Level 1)

Teaching and learning in the history classroom is in the midst of a revolution. Scholars and educators are using a vast range of digital techniques and pedagogical methods in classrooms, museums, libraries, and historical sites. Often this involves rethinking the ways in which knowledge is exchanged and the role that students play in the learning process. This experimental session will feature very short presentations by historians using digital tools and methods to engage and educate students and the public at all levels. People interested in being panelists should contact the organizer to register, and audience members will be invited to join the lightning round during the session.

The AHA looks forward to including more sessions with non-traditional formats in the future, so if you have any ideas for AHA17, held in Denver, submit a proposal through the online system (the submission link will be available soon). The deadline for proposals is February 15, 2016.



At the 2016 annual meeting, we have an exciting lineup of presentations on using digital methods in the classroom. Join us on Friday, January 8, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.., in Hyatt Regency Ballroom VI.

Participants will speak for three minutes each on a digital tool or methodology they have used or are experimenting with in class. We have included their abstracts in this guide as examples of the many forms digital pedagogy can take.


Teaching Digital Literacy with Wikipedia

John Bawden (University of Montevallo)

Students who make sourced contributions to Wikipedia articles not only become contributors to the body of knowledge on the web, they also discover how Wikipedia articles are written, edited, and evolve over time. More importantly, they discover how a hierarchy of Wikipedia editors decide what stays up and what comes down from a wiki. It’s not so open as one might think!

Mobile Tools from JSTOR Labs

Alex Humphreys (JSTOR Labs) @abhumphreys

JSTOR Labs — a new team at JSTOR that partners with the community to build innovative tools for research and teaching — will demonstrate two mobile apps it is developing that could help history students and teachers. Snap lets you take a picture of any page of text and discover articles in JSTOR about the same topic. Understanding the U.S. Constitution lets you find every article in JSTOR that quotes or refers to each clause of the Constitution.

The Viking World: A History in 100 Objects

Austin Mason (Carleton College) @meDHieval

This online exhibit was a class project in which students used the Scalar platform to produce a multimedia “History of the Viking World in 100 Objects,” modeled on the Neil MacGregor’s History of the World. Each student identified objects from museum collections, wrote prose analyses contextualizing the artifacts and recorded podcast audio versions. We also collectively identified a controlled vocabulary of tags, which offer thematic paths through the collection, which is publicly available on the open web.


David Trowbridge (Marshall University)

Clio aims to connect the public with information about museums, historical markers, monuments, and historic events that occurred throughout the US. There are now 20k people using Clio each month, 8500 entries, and 120 historians and institutions creating/improving entries. Each entry can include links to books, articles, primary sources, and other websites-a wonderful way to connect the public to the work of historians at the precise moment they may be interested in a particular topic.


Shannon Bontrager (Georgia Highlands College)

Because the field of Big History studies all 13.7 billion years from the Big Bang to the present, a tool to aid the comprehension of time relationships between events, trends and themes is necessary. ChronoZoom, from the University of California, Berkeley, is an intuitive, visual approach to fulfilling this void.

LEADR: A Lab for Digital History

Brandon Locke (Michigan State University) @brandontlocke

In August of 2014, the Michigan State Department of History, in collaboration with the Department of Anthropology and MATRIX, launched LEADR, the Lab for the Education and Advancement in Digital Research. LEADR partners with faculty members to develop lessons, exercises, and projects for undergraduate and graduate courses. This lightning talk will introduce the space, ethos, and experiences of LEADR in the year and a half since its launch.

Using GIS in the Classroom

Kalani Craig (Indiana University)

When we use GIS, we often have to include caveats for our students (georectified maps, quick-pace travel directions, etc.) to keep them from reading the present into the past. Instead of working around the caveats, I put modernity to use by combining GPS tracking on student smart phones, GIS mapping overlays, and NetLogo epidemiology simulation to bring 6th century plague to life.

Teaching Data Analysis with RStudio

Lincoln Mullen (George Mason University)

Installing software can often be harder than using it, and development environments can be very difficult for students to set up for themselves. In digital history courses, this barrier comes early in the course, at the most inopportune time for good pedagogy. I will explain how I am using RStudio Server (with comparisons to Vagrant virtual machines and Jupyter notebooks) to remove this barrier from courses which teach scripting for digital history work.