When I first signed up for Digital History last fall, it wasn’t very clear what the course would be about. Fortunately, since I was already taking a course with the instructor of the course I was able to ask him about it and it sounded like it would be interesting for me and so I took it hoping to expand my knowledge of technology and how it can be applied to the humanities; something that I am hoping to find useful as a teacher, the career I aspire to. While taking the course, I learned about so many thing I had never even heard of before such as the Google Ngram Viewer, Python, Google Sketchup and even WordPress, all of which I found very useful and have used since. One of my favourite parts of the course was our visit to the school’s archives and seeing how these important and irreplaceable documents are being preserved and digitized for better access. Having completed this course, it has become clear to me the importance of making sure the Historical discipline embraces rather than resist technology and make use of modern technology to make History more accessible and to preserve those things which can never be replaced. If Historians do not embrace technology, the discipline could fall into irrelevancy.

Looking back to the beginning of the course, I thought of Digital History as a course about the history of digital technologies and programs, things such as that. As it turns out, it was so much more then that. Not only did we learn interesting things such as the origin of the internet, we got an in depth look into many programs that are relevant, not only in History, but also in so many different disciplines. Google Sketchup, for example, is a great program for creating 3D images. While rather rudimentary compared to programs such as CAD, Sketchup would allow an inexperienced user to quickly and easily design things in 3D such a room they’d like to decorate or perhaps even an idea for landscaping their yard, the possibilities are nearly endless really. The Google Ngram Viewer, yes Google has quite a foothold in programs relating to Digital History as they do in many areas, is a great tool to quickly and easily determine the relevance of certain topics at any given time by typing in the keywords you’d like to compare which it will then cross reference with published material from any given time period in order to see how much that word was used at any given time. Our trip to the school’s archives and rare book room was also very interesting and it was great to see the resources the school has available for our use, resources that I was completely unaware of previously. It was also great to see the efforts that archives are taking to try to make the information they contain more accessible and to ensure that it is preserved for future use.

Overall, Digital History was a great course. It opened my eyes to so many great things that are out there for the History discipline and for conducting research. I hope to be able to use some of what I’ve learned in my own classroom one day and I hope that Historians learn to embrace technology better going forward as it’s a great asset for the profession. This course has definitely spurred a new interest for me and this is an area I’d like to look further into. If you asked me what Digital History is now, my answer would be “the study of digital technology and how it applies to and benefits the discipline of History.”

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