I would like to start off by saying that this was possibly my favorite class thus far at Mary Washington. Considering that I am only here for one more semester, I can’t imagine that I will find another that I enjoy so thoroughly.
1) Top three things you liked about the class structure.
(In no particular order)
Ienjoyed the autonomy that this class afforded me. Though we had deadlines that we set for ourselves in our contracts, I didn’t feel coddled like I do in other courses.
I really like the fact that our final project was not a stagnant paper, but an actually working website. I feel that this fits more into my view of the future of education and I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of that evolution.
I also appreciated the amount of time we had for group meeting and planning. It was important for the success of our projects. Many of us have busy schedules and it is difficult to meet outside of class on a regular basis, so this planning time was fantastic.
2) Top three things you would change about the class structure.
(In no particular order)
I think that it would have been beneficial to either have more meetings with DTLT (in class) or have the meetings that we did have spread out through the semester. In our group we had Megan hunt them down and I am extremely grateful for her persistence, but I think that we all would have benefited from further instruction on technology and tools.
I understand why we were required to present so often and it really helped for the presentations at Creativity Day and the History Symposium, but I did feel that we all got a little redundant when we presented every week. I felt it was helpful, but maybe next time you can stretch it out to every other week for 7-10 mins per group.
I have to be honest, I am really having trouble coming up with a third…
3) One or two projects/topics that you think might be good for future iterations of this class to do.
I have always been interested in the inventories from 18th century homes in Virginia. They really tell a lot about the families life, socio-economic status, and, in my opinion, makes this time in history tangible. Its like peering into a regular citizens life through primary court documents and estates. I am sure that a group could do something interesting with that topic in a digital format.
I think that the Fredericksburg, City Hall has a pretty interesting story. Aside from the beautiful structure, I believe that it was used as a Post Office before it was the City Hall. I gather that there are some pretty interesting primary sources from town hall meetings and what not that talk about it.
4) What advice would you give to future students who take this class?
First of all, I think that it is important to have a laptop, that has really made my life easier! I also think that once you and your group get together you should utilize google docs. It is a great way to communicate with your group. Other than that, have an open mind and think outside of the specifications of your other courses. Digital history is changing, you are making it with every status post (literally, the National Archives are actually…archiving twitter posts). You are using it every time you google a source, look at an online database, etc. This is the evolution of education and the new frontier of the historian so bask in it, because many students do not get the opportunity to be a part of it at the Undergraduate level. This was a fantastic class, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!