September 22, 2014

Humanities and IT – Tips for Successful Integration

This year Profweb will publish a series of discipline-specific articles on the tools and ICT strategies that you can easily incorporate into YOUR teaching. Not only will each article provide an overview of inspiring material available in Profweb, but these summaries will help you have a clear and accurate picture of available resources elsewhere in the network and beyond.

This series begins with Humanities in our English service.

Profweb and Humanities

Since 2009, Profweb has published many real-life stories in either Humanities or Philosophy. They have dealt with the pedagogical advantages of the use of clickers, the practical knowledge that students can discover in serious video games, a resource developed by the CCDMD to make the history of 20th Century music come alive, a daring experiment in hybrid teaching to communicate different world views and a website to promote the exchange of views among students in different classes on issues of morality and community service and an interface that allows students to virtually interact with their peers in remote locations. These stories are full of original and challenging IT ideas that you can easily take ownership of and integrate into your courses no matter which Humanities course you are teaching.

  • Veronica Ponce, who teaches Humanities at Marianopolis College, shares her experiences and advice on possible uses of clickers in the classroom. You will be surprised to learn the versatility and usefulness of this tool in a Humanities course. Even more than making surveys, including clickers allows you to assess students and measure their changing perspectives on various topics throughout a session. Furthermore, when anonymity is desired, clickers allow students to express opinions that they wouldn’t feel free to make in public.
  • Also in order to boost student achievement, Jonathan Mina, teacher at LaSalle College, included the video game Portal within his Humanities 101 course. This adventure game echoed many of the concepts taught in the course, particularly with respect to issues of reasoning and argumentation. It is an ICT experience that has paid off extraordinarily. Jonathan’s students, especially boys, are much more motivated in class.
  • People play and listen to music without really knowing what and how they are learning. Roger Haughey applied for a grant to turn the multimedia material in the course Sonic Truths: Popular Music and Knowledge into a course pack. The idea of the project was to give teachers and students the tools to move beyond the charms of music and submit it, and our relationship with it, to analysis with the help of Information Technology. Before the project, students were forced to listen to music in class and remember it. Now, class time can be better spent discussing the course readings about music that students listen to elsewhere. Furthermore, this music can be accessed simultaneously with texts enriching the appreciation of both.
  • Gabriel Flacks at the Saint-Lambert Campus of Champlain College discussed his desire to create a media source that fostered an active response to news. As a student of philosophy examining the media and the way it is changing with the Internet, he considered the possibilities the web offers for presenting news that encourages readers to become more engaged. His Newsactivist site provides online interaction with news-coverage that could lead to offline activism.
  • In Eileen Kerwin-Jones’ Humanities classes, the idea of e-learning was explored in a discipline that championed face-to-face interactions and critical dialogue. Active learning online in this Humanities course using blended learning required a level of autonomy and commitment on the part of students, as well as a willingness to work collaboratively. There was little chance to simply receive information passively in class!
  • As a new participant in the fifth year of the J@nus Project, a hybrid joint course in World Views between Vanier College and Cégep de Sept-Îles, Nathan Loewen was aware that technology is a central theme but history is a factor. The project’s founders, Sophie Jacmin and Sharon Coyle, were a wealth of wisdom about how virtual team teaching works. Furthermore, Sharon, Sophie, Nathan and his partner at Cégep de Sept Îles, André Alizzi worked well as a pedagogical team, consulting in September for a course beginning in Januar. They realized that this kind of backend work is what’s necessary to make virtual team teaching happen in a coherent fashion.

But wait! That’s not all. Searching on our site using the key word Humanities provides links to a number of other valuable resources in Profweb.

  • The reader is directed to Nicole Haché’s excellent account of her development of the resource Unlocking Research which has been incorporated into Humanities courses at Champlain College to help students develop their research and citation skills.
  • How does one determine a minimum IT competency to be reached by college students in a particular program of study? This report gives a glimpse into the process of producing an exit standard for computer competence in the Humanities Programme and the Business Administration Accounting and Management Technologies Programme.
  • As well valuable reading and resources are proposed such as the papers presented at the AQPC Symposiums.
  • Not included in our resources yet, but in our sights, is Dawson College’s Chantale Giguère’s amazing resource on eLearning

Several web resources can help you move from the traditional teaching of Humanities to the technopedagogical. In the Quebec college system, the Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development (CCDMD) produces print and digital resources for the Quebec college network. It has an impressive catalogue of academic material and participates in a number of interesting projects for college teachers, including the World of Images collection as well as symposiums produced in tandem with the AQPC to improve teaching skills. Besides the Sonic Truths resource for the history of music, there are a host of other Humanities oriented resources such as Chronos for creating timelines that reach out to your students. The CDC (Centre de documentation collégiale) is also an excellent resource. Its online thematic research area for ICT, Learning and Collaboration is a gold mine of information for the teacher.

Other web sites may also be helpful. For example, the website of Douglas Kellner, who holds the Philosophy of Education Chair at the University of California at Los Angeles, offers several free items on philosophy, culture and the challenges of education in the 21st Century. More conceptual, these articles are excellent sources of inspiration for teachers who want to incorporate a critical component on media and technology into their use of ICT in the classroom.

Use Profweb as a Springboard to Technopedagogical Success

Hundreds of resources are available on Profweb – articles, real-life stories from teachers, presentations of digital tools and folders that can help the Humanities teacher bring the world and its views into the classroom. And yes, the website is free. Profweb also hosts teachers’ academic websites within the Quebec College Network at no charge. In this space, you can edit your website using easy-to-install blog, and wiki applications. Your teaching materials, whether or not created with these applications, can be hosted here as well.

The Profweb team is there to facilitate your exploration of new technologies and inspiring educational opportunities. They can also organize an activity addressing the issue of the integration of ICT into Humanities in your department. If you are interested, please contact us.

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