6.0539 Rs: Humanities Teaching Lab (3/109)

Fri, 19 Feb 1993 12:29:40 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0539. Friday, 19 Feb 1993.

(1) Date: 18 Feb 93 22:04:28 GMT (12 lines)
From: johnstonj@attmail.com
Subject: Re: 6.0527 Query: Humanities Teaching

(2) Date: Thu, 18 Feb 93 20:50:46 -0500 (16 lines)
From: jdg@oz.plymouth.edu (Dr. Joel Goldfield)
Subject: Re: 6.0531 Rs: Humanities teaching lab

(3) Date: Fri, 19 Feb 93 12:11:01 GMT (81 lines)
From: Donald A Spaeth <GKHA13@CMS.GLASGOW.AC.UK>
Subject: 6.0531 Humanities teaching lab

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 18 Feb 93 22:04:28 GMT
From: johnstonj@attmail.com
Subject: Re: 6.0527 Query: Humanities Teaching (1/26)

Dr. Frank Colson, author of the University of Southampton's HiDES Project
has developed a compelling an important method of delivering historical data
has developed a platform, HiDES, the Historical Document Expert System,
that bears evaluation. It has been well-received throughout the UK's h
Humanities community and we are doing as much as we can to promote it in
the US as well.

Additional information can be obtained through this e-mail address.
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------25----
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 93 20:50:46 -0500
From: jdg@oz.plymouth.edu (Dr. Joel Goldfield)
Subject: Re: 6.0531 Rs: Humanities teaching lab; Student Computers (4/89)

In response to V.M. Littlefield's query and to the replies by a number
of colleagues I ask what this membership thinks of the work on the
History Workstation described & demonstrated in depth by Manfred Thaller
at the ALLC-ACH '90 conference (Siegen, Germany). An article by him
on this subject appeared shortly thereafter in a special
German-project-oriented issue of _Computers and the Humanities_ (Kluwer
Academic Publishers).

Joel D. Goldfield
Plymouth State College (NH)
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------90----
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 93 12:11:01 GMT
From: Donald A Spaeth <GKHA13@CMS.GLASGOW.AC.UK>
Subject: 6.0531 Humanities teaching lab

Professor Littlefield asks how computers might be used to enhance learning
in the humanities by enabling students to "do" their subject. This
issue is very topical in Britain now. Broadly speaking, there are
two answers in play. First, the British government is spending
7.5 million pounds this year on its Teaching and Learning Technology
Programme, in which consortia of institutions are developing teaching
materials for various subjects. Most of the consortia are attempting
to produce open-learning materials in which multimedia authoring
software is used to provide students with a wealth of information
on a topic, including text, extracts from books, photos, drawings,
animations, and moving video. The idea is that students explore
these at their own speed, pursuing issues that interest them.
The humanities have done relatively badly out of this, but consortia
have been funded in the Modern Languages, Music and Archaeology.

This is not a new idea, by any means. A well-known early example
is Intermedia, the Brown University research project. A UK software
research project working in the field is Microcosm (University of
Southampton). We historians wouldn't mind getting a slice of
the TLTP pie! To complete the picture, TLTP is likely to be funded
for another two years at the same or higher basis.

Moving away from multimedia, IT applications themselves provide a
means of helping students to "do" a humanities subject. The science
analogy isn't a bad one; we used it in an article on "the laboratory
approach" to teaching history a year ago. One frustrating aspect
of history teaching is that undergraduates usually read their
history through secondary rather than primary sources. In doing
so, they learn important critical skills, but they're not really
doing history as a professional would; that involves reading
documentary sources. At Glasgow and many other institutions
in the UK, we've taught students to use computers to analyse
historical sources, in the form of databases and texts. Source
analysis and data modelling are important components of such
courses, and the database makes accessible data that would
be difficult for the student to understand in any other way,
either because the source is too massive (e.g. the census),
is in manuscript (and therefore difficult for the untrained
eye to read), or is in a foreign language. One database
used here, for example, is in danish; a relational database
provided an easy means of translating occupations.
I should stress that these courses are not in quantitative methods;
they are in source analysis, data management, and simple analysis.

What goes in a "typical" lab will depend upon the approach one
takes. A multimedia lab might require networked 486s, a CD-ROM
player, stations with 8Mb plus of RAM, and multimedia software,
e.g. Toolbook, Authorware Professional, Coursebuilder, Microcosm
-- there are plenty to choose from! Or similar with Macs; I know less
about these, but gather that a Quadra is needed if you want to show
moving video (the lesser machines will show it but it will look jerky).
For development work you'll need a method of grabbing the images.
This isn't my field, so I'll leave it to others to provide details.

For the source-based approach I described: 486s or Mac IIs,
scanner and OCR software, database management software (Paradox
or an equivalent), text-based flat database (ideaList or Notebook),
text retrieval/analysis software (TACT, WordCruncher, OCP)
would make a good start. A spreadsheet provides a useful way
of doing simple statistics and graphics, and will take input from
a database management system.

I must confess to having some concerns about the multimedia route;
this is due to the dislike of many British history lecturers
of any attempt to package learning, even by assigning specific
books to read. Skip Knox has a point here. The cost of
replicating the library in a multimedia system to give
the student true open/discovery learning would be

Donald Spaeth
Computers in Teaching Initiative Centre for History
with Archaeology and Art History
University of Glasgow
1 University Gardens
Glasgow G12 8QQ
United Kingdom