In the last month, we brought the news of Teaching Hidden History to a wider audience with presentations at two conferences: the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy at Virginia Tech and a conference entitled Crossroads: The Future of Graduate History Education at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.
At the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy in February, Kelly and I had the opportunity to present with (and finally meet in person) our collaborators from Virginia Tech, Dr. Mark Barrow and Regan Shelton as well as two Virginia Tech students, Faith and Alison, who took the course last summer. Our session provided the opportunity to talk about the collaboration across campuses and share some lessons learned. Alison and Faith also presented their excellent projects from the course. Alison’s module connected a Scottish tartan to the nineteenth-century origins of Scottish nationalism, and Faith’s explored the interactions between U.S. women missionaries and Korean women. The two students also shared what they learned from the process of creating a module — both commenting that the challenge of presenting their research in this form made them consider these topics in new ways.
On March 12, I got the chance to attend Crossroads, a conference that focused on the future of graduate history education. Part of a panel called “Delving into the Digital,” I presented an overview of the course and some lessons learned especially as they related to the theme of the conference. My presentation emphasized the skills that Teaching Hidden History taught students, skills that history graduate students will need as they look to enter the workforce. The modules that students in the course created were a manageable project for a course, and a practical way to learn these skills. By creating online history modules, students had to learn how to teach with digital tools and how to think critically about audience — skills that will only become more important for graduate history students to acquire. Finally, I discussed the central role of collaboration to entire process, and how practicing and reflecting on collaboration gives grad students yet another skill for the future. The panel was very well-attended and featured a great discussion around using technology to engage with audiences beyond the history classroom.
Both these conferences were excellent opportunities to discuss Teaching Hidden History, talk about the positive results of our collaboration and the 4-VA initiative, and compare notes with scholars and educators from across the country about innovative ways to teach digital skills, historical thinking, and pedagogy.