Why I never set essays anymore

Burning plagiarising students at the stake seems to be a major focus of the academic world these days, and I written about that elsewhere previously on this blog. In passing, I said I would discuss how I create assessments which are mostly proof against plagiarism.

Creating assessments based on learning outcomes is a mugs game – all you are assessing is the outcome, but not the process, and students will find a way to shortcut to the outcome. Academics assume that  an essay or paper of a specific length, with proper references based on assigned readings is a good measure of student learning. Continue reading

Culture, identity, ethics and knowledge creation in Social Media

Identity is a major research issue in the humanities – one might say that the nature of who we are, what it means to be human, is a fundamental question for the humanities. Increasing, social media has come to play an important part how we shape our identity and how we interact with other people’s identities in our daily lives. With the growing awareness of the importance of social learning, knowledge construction in social media is also an interesting research area. There are several problems for the humanities scholar venturing into research using social media – speed and ethics – which interact. Continue reading

More plagiarism BS

Academic Plagiarism, and specifically the success of Turnitin, is once more in the news – and ‘Frankly, my dear, I couldn’t give a damn.’  I don’t care much about plagiarism, most of my assessments are designed in a way that makes them very difficult to plagiarise, and I mainly use Turnitin to manage digital submissions and grading (although I’ve moved to using pdfs on my iPad for grading and feedback). I design assignments  and grade for ‘evidence of a mind at work’ Continue reading

Mobile writing

Moving to working on mobile devices, and for serious work this means a full sized tablet, is not something you can do overnight, and if you try you will be disappointed. Since I got an iPad, I considered and resisted the idea of buying a Bluetooth keyboard. I convinced myself that the logic of the mobile working was to learn to use the iOS keyboard, even if it was not as good as the alternatives which I installed on my various Android devices.
Continue reading

What is Digital Humanities, Part II (of many?)

The experience of teaching Digital Humanities beyond the ‘core cadres’ of the tech loving geeks has brought home to me how our definitions of the field are inadequate. I suggested previously that the lack of definition is not confined to the ‘digital’ – many academics in the humanities and social sciences define their field by subject matter and methods, but take the deeper location of the humanities in the current western intellectual paradigm so much for granted that it is never explicitly engaged with. I feel that as a definition of Digital Humanities, “Um … anything in the humanities that has a digital aspect”  may be an accurate representation of the state of our discourse, but it isn’t adequate. Continue reading

Tinder is the night?

Tinder, the social media app du jour, which recently featured in both the Guardian and the Telegraph, seems to me to be a very old new new thing. I have envied academics who were able to grab headlines for research on cutting edge social media trends, and this month , Tinder represents a class of app which is cutting edge. It seemed worth a look, so I looked, and what I found was slightly worrying, and slightly ‘so what’ Continue reading

What is Digital Humanities?

Eight weeks into teaching Intro DH courses at masters and undergrad level, I should probably have an answer to that question, especially since we’ve teaching a Phd programme here at UCC for three years now.The problem of defining a discipline is one which many colleagues, and many many students, simply don’t consider explicitly. Apart from the odd compulsory, and universally hated, course in historiography, most undergraduates in history can get through a degree in the subject without having to think about ‘What is history’. Students doing English are not usually confronted by parents who want to know “what good is it?” because everyone has a handy preconception that it is about Shakespeare and Jane Austen so you can get a nice job as a teacher.
Continue reading

Smart Cities

Smart Cities are conceptually interesting for Digital Humanists because most of the universities we infest are in cities, so the first thing we meet when we walk past the gates of the ‘Ivory Tower’ is the bazaar of the modern city. Since sometime on 2009, according UN figures cited in Anthony Townsends new book, “Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the quest for a new utopia”, the majority of the world’s population live in cities.

Hunting Frank O’Connor

The Digital Humanities team at UCC are hosting a tools and methods workshop for the phd class this weekend, and we are using data about Frank O’Connor, the Cork writer, as the thematic glue to link the various sections on TEI/XML, Databases, visualisation and social networking. Preparing for it I’ve sent some time hunting for data on his early years in the 1901 Census, and the BMH witness statements. Continue reading