In the Digital Humanities, the technology, being so revelatory and fluid, can overshadow its potential for use as a pedagogical tool. The pedagogical value can even become lost altogether in the presentation of the subject. Paul Fyfe, in “Digital Pedagogy Unplugged,” addresses this use of platforms and applications as simple “instructional technology” (Fyfe 6). The mistake in “presuming [digital pedagogy’s] discontinuity with non-digital tools and methods, or its own self-limiting status as a tool kit” is Fyfe’s concern (5). In other words, digital representations, even innovative ones, hold the potential to become one-way pedagogical media, despite all the interactive possibilities that accompany the use of “interpretive machines” alongside the traditional teaching approach (6).
Traditional structures–teacher, student, and text–benefit from methods uncovered or refined through the use of the computer. Fyfe suggests, with experimental examples from teachers and other digital humanists, that a certain movement between digital and non-digital pedagogical structures allows “insights that may not solely exist in either realm” to be achieved (14). It isn’t enough to offer what is basically an interactive Power Point or to text-mine for decontextualized words or phrases. The perspective of the engaged humanities student, and, in turn, the promotion of the humanities, must also be considered.
Fyfe provides the example of one instructor text-mining by hand to keep context in play as a part of the process. And the overall philosophy and conceptualization of this exercise drives home Fyfe’s message. The computer works as an additional resource as well as a means of devising new ways of critically thinking about and teaching the humanities. Moving from the digital back to the human expands the possibility for discovering pedagogical methods.
Fyfe, Paul. “Digital Pedagogies Unplugged.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 5.3 (2011): 1-20. Print.