Sept. 11: Introduction to Digital Public History

We’ll hit the ground running this week with a wide-ranging discussion and a demonstration of the first digital platforms we will use in this class. Be sure to download Audacity before class.

First we will discuss course assignments and expectations, discuss what we mean by digital public history, and explore the Digital History Lab.

First, some discussion of where digital and public history should meet.


Your first assignment this week is to set up a blog and write your first post and comment on another blog post. Make sure to choose a blog host which has a comments feature. Send me your URL and Twitter username (optional) by next week and post a blog entry by Wednesday afternoon.

Have a look through these popular blog hosts for one that suits you.

Questions to consider for your introductory post: What are you most excited or nervous about? What do you want to accomplish? Are there examples of digital or online history projects/exhibits/games etc. that you find particularly interesting or awful?

Building and Engaging Audiences with Digital Media

Being a public historian in the 21st century requires you to engage with many different audiences using a variety of platforms and media. Finding a tone and style that suits your personality and your intended audience is not easy.

In this class we will discuss how we can attract and serve audiences in the classroom, in museums, and online. How should we use digital media? Is it always necessary? What are some common (and potentially disastrous) mistakes we should avoid?

Have a look at these suggestions for working in the Age of the Digital Mess.

Engaging Youth and the Public: The Limits of Digital Engagement

Some thoughts from Megan Smeznik at the NCPH.

James Cote, “The Digital Native DebateAn appraisal of pedagogical and generational claims.” Changing Landscapes of Childhood and Youth in Europe, Lynne Chisholm and Vassiliki Deliyanni-Kouimitzi (eds.) (pp. 86–109). Cambridge Scholars Press: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2014.

We’ll also debate a new article from The Atlantic discussing how smart phones have changed childhood and allegedly “destroyed a generation.”

Jeffrey Young, “When Computers Leave Classroom, So Does Boredom,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 20 July 2009.

Jason B. Jones, “The Creepy Treehouse Problem”, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 9, 2010.

Attempts to Build an Audience:

An Absolute Unit of a museum Twitter account. 

The Guardian, “Can a museum without walls attract a wider audience?”

Using Games to increase museum attendance and engagement (we’ll return to this subject in a later class).

When campaigns backfire:  #campaignfail


Everyone is required to try their hand at podcasting. Have a listen to these examples and decide what form your podcast will take. We will also visit the computer lab and learn how to use the microphones and software.

Have a listen to previous efforts from 2015 , 2016. 2017 Part 1 and Part 2 and 2019

In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg Directed discussion of a topic with a panel of experts.

BBC History Extra Interviews, Lectures, and History News.

Shakespeare’s Restless World Documentary Style

A list of 10 History Podcasts