Developing faculty knowledge of digital humanities methodologies and tools

Across multiple workshops, participants concluded that training would play an important role in the widespread adoption of digital humanities tools and methodologies. There was some discussion about whether "training" were the best word-- some felt it was reductive, and didn't capture the fact that, beyond teaching which button to click in a given piece of software, successful digital humanities "training" involves a fundamental change in the scholar's methodologies. Drawing the distinction between technical knowledge and mentality is motivated on other grounds as well; graduate students and junior faculty are quick to accept digital methodologies until they are told that such methodologies may jeopardize their chances of being hired or tenured, but they often need as much software training as older scholars.

Increasing scholars' comfort with digital humanities methodologies should be addressed differently than teaching scholars technical skills. Targeting the former towards the widest possible range of scholars-- regardless of whether they are likely to personally engage in digital humanities work-- could have a number of positive effects, including an increased willingness to consider digital work as part of a tenure dossier. Technical training in a variety of areas-- from video editing to data mining-- should be available to scholars who are interested in applying digital humanities methodologies to their own work. However, some care must be taken when selecting topics for technical training: one repeated complaint from scholars was that they had invested time in technical training in the past, only to have that technique or software become obsolete. While obsolescence is inevitable, focusing classes whenever possible on proven, well-established tools may help minimize the issue. Some participants expressed a desire for an independent organization to create and update a list of recommended tools and techniques for different levels (undergraduate, graduate, faculty), as well as pedagogical materials that can be used in "bootcamp" style courses. Faculty wanted to ensure that they were well-represented in any such organization.

Workshop participants saw successful examples of digital humanities projects, use cases, and statements from faculty members about the benefit of digital humanities methodologies as essential to increasing the prevalence of digital humanities practice. It was suggested that a "faculty-to-faculty" approach to digital humanities evangelism may be more effective for making a case about the intellectual payoff of digital humanities within a given discipline than attempts by IT professionals or library staff. Participants did see ways for technologists to advocate for digital humanities by raising awareness about the tools that are available, with the goal of capturing the imagination of faculty who are receptive to the idea of digital humanities, but don't realize what opportunities and resources are at their disposal.

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