Something in the making…

My digital humanities project involves the field of education, specifically literature. So often I have heard of classes interacting via Skype and Facetime, which sounds like such a great opportunity for my students; however, the wifi in our school would be more of a hindrance than a help. I can just imagine FaceTime timing out, the wifi shutting down mid-Skype session, and my projector failing me. (If you can’t tell, technology is the enemy in our school district, unfortunately). One idea that I always wanted to do was to talk to other classrooms in other school districts about the class novels we are reading. However, our school day starts earlier than most other school districts, and our class schedules would most likely not match up with the others. This predicament lead me to my digital humanities project.
There are other sources like my proposal, but I wanted to focus on a specific audience in order to enhance the communication that would take place on the site. The main difference between this and similar sites is this is specifically geared toward Appalachian students to promote discussions on hot-button topics that affect them on a daily basis.
The overall goal of the project is to connect my students to other Appalachian students who use technology in their classrooms in order to discuss literature. Typical 11th grade American Literature books will be uploaded onto the site, and the students will have the opportunity to annotate the novel in order to see different points of view from students in Appalachia. It will foster academic communication and interaction with students who come from a similar part of the world and experience similar things in life. Technology is such a major element in my students’ lives, and this site would encourage them to interact with literature, connecting with others. This is an opportunity to create an on-going resource for Appalachian students, allowing them to communicate through technology, requiring critical thinking, and sustaining student success. This will be an atmosphere where students can express their own thoughts and ideas, especially those who are not confident enough to express their ideas in the classroom.
The pilot will start small, and I will use it with my own class and one other volunteer Appalachian school, hoping to expand it over time. This site will allow students to log-in with their own username and password that will allow for privacy, adding content that will be uploaded to the site. Students can create their own student profiles and can be added to classroom profiles, which will be created by the educator. Class novels, short stories, and poems will be uploaded the site, and students will have the ability to add their own comments to the text by annotating. A blog will be available for each novel, short story, or poem so that students may expand on their ideas even more. Vocabulary words, quizzes, videos, photos, online resources will be the metadata added for each novel, short story, or poem. There will be a live chat feature for students to use as well. Students will also receive e-mail updates when someone has responded to their comments or any of the content they have added to the site. A team of coders and experts will create the website using the CMS Commons in a Box. It will be a free resource that will securely connect students with other students, allowing them to use technology to interact with literature. This is also a chance for students to initiate conversation and learning from their peers. Instead of the traditional way of teaching, the teacher can incorporate this into his or her classroom so that students take initiative in their own learning experience. The site will allowed students to explore the novel in many different ways. Ultimately, students will use this website to create an Appalachian community where all postings are archived on a yearly basis and can be used for scholarly research in the future, either by students to by educators.

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