Samples of Digital Media Application

As a history professor at the University of Mary Washington, my main learning objective is to engage in a conversation with history. In other words, how does our understanding of the past influence society today? Another aspect of my teaching to (primarily) digital natives is having them work with a variety of new media tools throughout the semester –inside and out of the classroom. For example, in my History 390 class (Digital History & the Supernatural) we live tweeted Pan’s Labyrinth. Depending on the class, the students create detailed online exhibits, timelines, or story maps; using open source software such as Omeka, Scalar, KnightLab’s TimelineJS, and Storymap. I find that my students learn the best when they have interactive tools to present their work. While there is nothing wrong with a traditional narrative, non-linear thinking, I argue, creates deeper connections with the material.

In addition to teaching, I have been fortunate to work on digital projects, both research and communications-based at George Mason’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM). During my time at RRCHNM I developed a website for the Toynbee Prize Foundation based on the PressForward platform, which aggregates stories from different sources. The Toynbee Prize Foundation was established at MIT in 1987 at a means to bring together scholars who practiced global history. Traditional white papers were created and distributed at annual meetings, which also presented the Toynbee Prize to an outstanding member of the global history community. Dr. Raymond Grew approached RRCHNM to see if we could assist in taking a static webpage with information about the Toynbee Foundation to an interactive, multi-platform community for scholars and those interested in Global History. When I was assigned the task, I had so much material to work with and was given carte blanche. As a world historian, I was familiar with the community of scholars and, therefore could spend more time implementing a redesign of the website than learning who I was making the website for. The first item was to create a brand. Sure, academics knew what the Toynbee Prize Foundation was, but there was nothing to connect the various aspects of the foundation together: the prize, scholarship, news, events, and institutions. I achieved this with a basic logo redesign and adding the abbreviation of TPF to publications. After a year of restructuring the website into compartments (see the website for the sections), I had to come up with a way to engage the scholars’ network. There is a tremendous amount of scholarship published in global history and this is where I took my chance in bringing TPF into the 21stcentury. Rather than keep a list of publications on Global History (which did exist in the original website), I thought I would adopt the PressForward initiative of scholars serving as editors to seek out recent publications (links to PDFs or blog posts, for example) and shift the traditional narratives to a shared Zotero library. These changes in separating publication submission went from passive to active participation. The members of the Global History community now had a say in what materials were published on their community website. In taking ownership (with me serving as editor in chief until they were able to nominate their own leaders) the community would be able to actively engage with each other and their work. In this small switch from passive to active, we were growing the network of scholars who could add “editor at large” to their C.V. The next step was to seek contributions in the form of a blog or forum, so that TPF could take ownership of unique scholarship produced under the umbrella of the Foundation. Once the skeleton was created, we sought out contributors at first through invitations. As the community grew we added a Twitter and Facebook account (I noticed that these accounts are not as active as they used to be). Twitter could disseminate the news and Facebook would look to locate editors-at-large. After this phase of the redesign, there was new life in TPF, which enabled the board to re-establish its journal, New Global Studies as a leader in Global History scholarship. Not only was I able to create a new platform to circulate scholarly communication on the open web, it was my responsibility to educate the TPF community how to source, evaluate, and publish/post scholarly content. In addition to my work on the Toynbee Prize Foundation website, I served as co-editor for Global Perspectives on Digital History (GPDH). Much in the same vein as the Toynbee Prize Foundation’s mission to provide scholarly content across the open web, so to, is the mission of GPDH.