Little Data, Big Learning: Fostering Experiential Pedagogy

What is the experience of reading? How can we leverage DH-inflected pedagogy to help students situate their own processes of reading, writing, and learning? In such a tendrillate approach to textual analysis, what tools can help students navigate through a cycle of experience and reflection that underscores the materiality of reading experience?

In this session, my hope is that we can explore the intersection of learning, experience, and DH to begin to sketch what a digital environmental humanities pedagogy might look like.

I began building an assignment during DHSI that asks students to use close reading of a passage as an entry to larger analytical and written projects (zipped Prezi available here through the course’s webpage), but it’s just a first stab at a much larger issue–how can DH pedagogical approaches help us to ground student scholarship in first-hand experience with primary materials? Encoding text, annotating sentences, parsing paragraphs for word frequency–all of these are valuable approaches, which, if used carefully, can bring our students to textual analysis as a fundamental building block of humanities scholarship.

Attention to the labour of reading and the experience of the text can only enrich the connections scholars can make by looking at these narrower street views in the context of an ever-evolving map of the world.

About pcenkl

I am currently Dean of the College and Faculty in Environmental Humanities and Regional Studies at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, Vermont. In addition to a number of journal articles and book chapters on regional and environmental literature and place, I am also the author of This Vast Book of Nature: Reading the Landscape of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, 1785-1911 (Iowa, 2006) and editor of Nature and Culture in the Northern Forest: Region, Heritage, and Environment in the Rural Northeast (Iowa, 2010). For nearly twenty years, I have been able to share a passion for place, the humanities, and technology by teaching courses from Literature of the Northeast and The Politics of Place and Identity to Adventure Literature to field courses in Iceland and Rock and Ice Climbing. In the past few years, I have become more and more interested in how to best use technology to support how we learn in an experiential environment. I firmly believe that technology and environmental sustainability need not be mutually exclusive.

5 thoughts on “Little Data, Big Learning: Fostering Experiential Pedagogy

  1. I love that your students’ question, “why make writing harder?” was answered by the experience itself! I think by making writing (and reading) “harder,” we can make it richer. Now I wish I’d brought a typewriter or two…or some goose feathers.

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