Advancing Digital Methodology in Teaching, Learning, and Research: A Networked Approach


Emanuel, J. P. (2019). Advancing Digital Methodology in Teaching, Learning, and Research: A Networked Approach. In Digitorium 2019, Tuscaloosa, AL, Oct. 10-12.
Advancing Digital Methodology in Teaching, Learning, and Research: A Networked Approach


Recent years have seen an increase in digital scholarship, in digital methods-related courses, and in the integration of digital components into courses and assignments. At Harvard, the latter has been encouraged through the Digital Teaching Fellow, or DiTF, program, an initiative to support the thoughtful redesigning of courses to support the integration of digital methods and tools into learning objectives and curricula. With no formal “digital scholarship center,” “digital humanities center,” or other formal support structure, the challenge of providing necessary support for these increases in digital methods and tools was met by a group of key role players from around the university. 

Beginning as an informal gathering, this supporting cast has developed into the Digital Scholarship Support Group, or DSSG, a decentralized network that strives to foster the acquisition of digital literacy and the use of digital methods and tools in teaching, learning, and research. Its members, which represent multiple disparate departments, centers, and organizations across Harvard, take a “no wrong door” approach to supporting and furthering digital scholarship, working together to provide the University community with a single point of entry to the resources available to them.


A core focus of the DSSG is providing greatly-in-demand training to students, teaching fellows, faculty, and staff. The DSSG’s training seminars focus on the fundamentals of digital scholarship, on the integration of digital tools and methods into pedagogy, and on specific genres of tools and methods (for example, Visualization), and each is re-thought and redesigned based on the feedback of previous participants. 

A key DSSG offering is the Digital Teaching Methods seminar. Initially created to train the aforementioned DiTFs, this workshop focuses on the learning goal–based integration of digital tools and methods into pedagogical approaches, providing hands-on introductions in the context of specific pedagogical examples and use cases. Unlike many ‘teaching with technology’–related efforts that focus on specific tools or on the digital genre in general, the DSSG’s approach emphasizes using technology to enhance learning, addressing both the practical mechanics of employing these tools and approaches and the pedagogical needs that they serve.

This presentation focuses on the impetus for the DSSG’s formation and persistence, the iteratively-developed and user-focused nature of its activities, and future prospects in the digital scholarship space, with an emphasis on the pedagogical advances and support made available by the group’s efforts.