Digital Pedagogy Roundtable, Part 4: Funeral Trains and Social Media

This week, The Junto features a roundtable on digital pedagogy, in which we discuss our different approaches to using digital sources in the classroom. Today, Ken Owen shares his experience of an MA class’s project using social media for public history uses. You can also read Part 1 by Rachel Herrmann on source accesibility, Part 2 by Jessica Parr on teaching digital history to non-majors, and Part 3 by Joseph Adelman about working with students on technical knowledge.

Back in April, I had a rather surreal teaching experience. A class project, focusing on tweeting the assassination and funeral train of Abraham Lincoln, attracted a good deal of media attention in central Illinois. My class ended up appearancing in local newspapers, radio, and even with a featured spot on the local news channel. I even had a waiter in a local restaurant recognize me as the ‘Lincoln and twitter professor’. Continue reading

The Early American Digital World

This post builds on the conversation begun by Joseph Adelman’s post on early American history blogging the other day, and a panel on the topic at the OIEAHC/SEA conference yesterday. A version of these remarks were delivered at a panel entitled, “Early American Worlds: A State-of-the-Field Conversation” at the 2015 Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting on April 17, 2015 in St. Louis, MO.

For longer than I’ve been alive, our field in a structural sense has been organized through the efforts of the main institutions in the field, i.e., the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and, later, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. From fellowships to seminars to conferences, these institutions gave to the field the significant sense of community it had. And I would argue that the new early American “digital world” is not changing that but expanding upon (or around) it. Social media and blogs are adding an additional layer of social infrastructure within the field itself, creating spaces that foster an even broader and more inclusive sense of community in the field, largely through the ability to include people who for whatever reason don’t have access to or are outside the immediate orbit of those institutions and the field’s traditional channels of community-building. Continue reading

On Social Media Feeds for Historical Organizations and History Departments

TwitterFBTurns out that after several stints running social media accounts for different institutions, I have feelings about what works and what doesn’t. What follows is a prescriptive ramble of things that historical organizations and history departments should be doing on Twitter and Facebook, with the understanding that there is a lot that I’m not covering, such as general Twitter etiquette, blogs, Tumblr, podcasts, or other social media topics we’ve already covered here. I’ll leave it to you in the comments to discuss these issues further—and to point out which additional accounts strike you as models to follow. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHIt’s hard to believe that the end of June is already upon us. This week features one of the biggest events of the Civil War sesquicentennial with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Look for more on that event (both 150 years ago and today) in next week’s edition. Meanwhile, on to this week’s links!

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Twitter as an Agent of Change

The Junto (thejuntoblog) on Twitter“It’s only about what people eat for breakfast.”

“It caused the Arab Spring, you know.”

“It’s nothing but Justin Bieber fans writing gobbledygook.”

“I saw someone do a wonderful live-tweet of a conference last week.”

“I hate when people livetweet conferences.”

What good is Twitter, anyway? And why should you use it? Inspired by the defense of academic blogging offered in this space last month by Ken Owen, I want to offer a few thoughts on using Twitter as a professional historian. Over the past few months, I’ve had several discussions, both in-person and online, in which I’ve been called on to defend Twitter (it seems that others see me as either an effective or at least irrepressible user). After over three years on the service (@jmadelman, if you’re curious), I’ve certainly developed a theory of Twitter for myself. I would not offer it as universal, but I do think it’s important to highlight what’s good about it, and perhaps one or two things that I don’t like.

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With Malice Toward None: An Academic Blogging Manifesto

Jefferson-Providential-TwittectionOne of the reasons I am so enthusiastic about being a member of The Junto is that I have long thought blogging provides an excellent opportunity for the development of academic writing. While the typical forms of academic writing are highly formal, blogging (and other forms of digital media) provide a semi-formal arena in which historians can discuss and develop their ideas, taking advantage of an extended virtual community whilst simultaneously providing some structure and order to their thoughts.

Of course, it’s scarcely original to ponder the virtues and values of digital media within the academy. Nor would I want to be prescriptive about what sorts of blogging work and don’t work. After all, even in our own field of early American history, we have a variety of examples of how to blog—from John Fea’s diary-keeping style, to Historiann’s more political content, to J.L. Bell’s treasure trove of research notes. Indeed, it’s the informality and immediacy of blogging that provide the greatest opportunities for enterprising historians. Continue reading