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What is DH23?
23Things for Digital Humanities (DH23) is an online, self-directed, peer mentored reflective programme to help researchers in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Cambridge University to explore digital technologies and the ways in which they impact on various aspects of their working lives, and thereby to develop their own strategic approach to engagement with digital technologies. It is a way to discover and explore digital tools which might be useful to you but also a framework for evaluation, reflection and wider integration of digital technologies to enhance your work, to the level which is appropriate for you.
Who is DH23 aimed at?
DH23 is aimed at early career researchers who are interested in exploring digital tools to enhance their work, but who may have varying degrees of familiarity with them. You might have heard of some of the tools, but aren’t sure how to use them, in which case the programme will talk you through how they work in easy steps, to get you up and running. You might be using some of the tools already, in which case the programme will encourage you to think more deeply about how and why you’re using them, and how to get the most out of them. Whatever your current level of confidence, the programme aims to help you develop a strategic approach to integrating digital skills into your work as an early career researcher.
How much will it cost?
It’s free! The digital Things which the programme explores are all either free to use or download, or they have a reasonably lengthy trial period to explore it before you decide whether you want to invest (certainly enough to complete the programme). Some tools (e.g. the audio-visual media) may require some basic kit such as a microphone or webcam, but these are things you may already own, or if not, we have a small pool of equipment which we can lend out to you so you can explore making and editing simple digital media. The DH23Things programme is built using free online tools, modelling the kinds of technology it aims to get you exploring, so there’s no charge for participating either!
Where did DH23 come from?
The original 23things programme was set up by the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, USA, and it was also run at Oxford University. The first Cam23 things programme was set up for librarians at Cambridge, and there have since been further iterations for librarians at Cambridge University and beyond. The significance of the number 23 is a little obscure!
Who is running the programme?
The DH23 programme is an initiative by the Digital Humanities Network, and draws on the expertise of colleagues across the university including librarians, computer officers, communications experts, careers advisers and transferable skills developers, to create an interprofessional programme of transferable skills for early career researchers in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Click here for more information about us.
How does the programme work?
The DH23things programme based at this blog will introduce you to a new tool each week, with support in how to begin using it. We will also set you a small task to complete, through which to explore the week’s tool, and some questions based on the reflective framework, to help you consider the possibilities and issues raised by the tool. You then write up a weekly blog post on your own blog, possibly using these questions as a structure, reflecting on your experience and sharing it with others. You can also take part in the network of other participants, to learn from each other using the very tools you will be learning about.
Do I have to set up a blog to participate?
Reflective, open blogging is a core part of the programme. It is the medium for reflection and for creating the community of participants which enhances the information provided on the central programme blog. It is also used for accreditation purposes to demonstrate that you have completed the course, for transferable skills training or staff development purposes.
You might be worried about privacy of your personal data, or of your online professional persona. You can use a pseudonym for your blog and many other tools you register for if you wish to remain publicly anonymous (those running the course may still wish to verify who you are, but this need not appear in any online public capacity). The pros and cons of using your real name and data online are addressed in Thing One: setting up a blog.
You might already have a blog; you can use this for participating in DH23, tagging your entries with this name. You could also set up a separate blog specially for the programme.
What happens to my blog after the programme?
You might choose to keep up blogging using your new blog, to keep it as a source of useful material for yourself or others, or to deactivate it. We’d very much like to showcase some of the best entries on the Cambridge Digital Humanities Network website, but we will seek your permission before doing so.
What’s in it for me?
You can explore some useful web 2.0 tools and stay up to date with the latest technologies that could enhance your work, participate in a network of other researchers doing the same to share tips. It’s also a chance to think about the emerging field of Digital Humanities and the ways in which technology is impacting on the methodology of Humanities as well as the practice. if you’re a funded PhD student, then participating in the programme counts towards your RCUK transferable skills training requirement.
I’ve already used some of these tools – do I still have to blog about it?
DH23 is partly about learning how to use new tools, but its real value lies in reflecting on how they impact on your work, your research, and the wider discipline of Humanities. You might consider exploring an alternative tool to the one you are using for a particular purpose, to compare and contrast them, or you might try using the tool in a new context, or in a new or more advanced way, and blog about your experience. You might also simply take the opportunity to reflect on your use of the tool and assess how effectively you use it and how it impacts on your work as a researcher. You could also experiment with a new tool on a similar theme, which you could find through the DiRT wiki.
I’m pretty sure I won’t get on with some of these tools or find a use for them – do I still have to explore them?
The purpose of the programme is not to encourage you to use all the tools, but to develop a reflective, critical framework for exploring them and any new tools you encounter in future. It is worth exploring tools you don’t initially think will be useful to you – you may find that you like them, you may find that your initial views are confirmed but for good reasons, or you may simply increase your awareness of technologies which will impact indirectly on your work, if others around you use them.
Can someone help me get started with these tools?
DH23 is a self-directed course. Basic instructions for the tools are provided, and many of them are intuitive to pick up. The DH23 team can’t help you download, set up or register for the tools individually, but aim, through the tools we explore, to create a networked community of participants who can swap tips or offer advice. Try reading or commenting on other participants’ blogs, post a question on the email list, or use some of the other tools you’ve learned about to ask for tips from the other participants – twitter, skype or screenleap/joinme might be very helpful, for example.
How much time is this likely to take?
We anticipate that you might spend an hour a week investigating the Things, completing the short tasks and blogging about the experience. You are welcome to spend more time if you wish! The tasks we set will be based around the kinds of things that you are doing anyway as part of your work.
I’m not a researcher in the Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences – can I still take part?
Of course – although the programme is designed for the sort of activities that AHSS researchers typically undertake, and considers the impact of digital technologies on the Humanities.