Parting Thoughts – Clio I

 What have I learned this semester? 

–       That getting things to look the way I want them to on WordPress is a lot harder than you might think.

–       That perseverance really does pay off (and moving very close to the computer screen and squinting).

–       Never to put off Practicum until Sunday evening.

–       Because it will always take longer than I think.

–       That there are a lot of people like me out there in the world – technologically unsavvy and dangerous

  • And that the programmers have created many buttons that can safely be pressed without “breaking” anything.  Go Google and Apple!

–       That if I press enough buttons and click enough times, I will eventually find “it” or make “it work”.

–       That there is something unique about digital scholarship that can enhance learning, if done thoughtfully, thoroughly and creatively.

–       That there is an entire world out there of digital tools still to discover.

–       That the Internet might actually be a place for me to operate.

–       That there is value in having an (active!) Twitter account and blog!

 This has been a fantastic semester, more than I could have hoped for.  I looked forward to readings and practicum each week, if nothing else just to see what new tools we would get to use.  I will be keeping the shortcut to “Clio I” on my Bookmarks Bar, because so many of the things we learned during this semester will come in handy in future semesters.  I want to be able to return to the tools and understand why and how they are used, so I can better understand how to use them myself.

 My favorite weeks were those that connected public history and application to historical scholarship.  I admit it; I am a practical person.  I also admit that I very much want to share our history with the world.  I want young students as excited about American history as I was (am).  I want graduating high school seniors to understand their military history.  Whether or not they choose the military, I would like them to understand why and what the military really is and what it has done. 

So if digital tools can make some of that come to life for people, then I am very interested.  Visualization tools were my favorite.  They can convey a lot of information in one picture, if done well.  The challenge with any visualization, I think, is to put the time and effort into it necessary to make a really good tool.

One final “thank you” to Professor Leon – for encouraging and enabling us to take baby steps; for letting us know it was OK to fail (because even if we “failed”, we still learned); and for encouraging us to think about using these tools outside the semester.  My absolutely favorite thing about this class is that I see it as merely a starting point.  This is not a class that I will forget two weeks after the semester is over.  This is a class I envision using again and again, as I build my knowledge of digital tools and as I work on my long term research projects.

And a final final (yes, really this time) thank you to my fellow students and the other PhD students reading our weekly blogs and tweets.  Thanks for helping me to learn, for your patience and your willingness to discuss ideas and challenges.  You have made this a great semester, and a great first semester of my PhD program!





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