When I registered for Digital History, I expected to examine the role of media in history in the 21st century. With technological advancements, past ways of teaching and learning about history may now be antiquated. The days of teachers relying primarily on a textbook, some sources and a video are gone to make way for the plethora of resources available on the Internet. Teachers have so many more resources at their disposal and now have the ability to bring history alive for their students. With the resources available today, I propose there is also a renewed interest in history even for the casual learner. Rather than simply viewing words and illustrations in a book, technology allows history to become alive and individuals can visualize what an area looked like hundreds of years ago and can view interactive maps to better understand things, such as the migration of individuals, battlefields, or the spread of industry.
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As I sat in our first class, a rise of panic overcame me when I found out that we are not going to simply examine various digital history genres. I am not technologically savvy and the thought of having to create a website made my throat constrict. One of our classmates (Billy) starting telling us his technological abilities and started throwing out words that I have possibly heard and some point, but had no idea what they meant. At that point, I felt as though I had been dropped in the middle of an advanced foreign language class, without the required prerequisite. If misery loves company, then that was the feeling I had in our first day of class. As we went around the table for each to explain their technological skills, I discovered that the majority felt as inadequate as I did, which made me feel better.
Our group immediately started to work together and it seems that we will all work well together. We started by attempting to identify some key terms and although I do not understand all of them, it is helping alleviate some of the fear. I must say that some of the terms we have looked at I have seen since we met and I was thrilled to recognize the term…..although I was not sure exactly what it means. :) The thought of helping create a website is still overwhelming to me, but we all need to approach this as if it is an elephant. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Therefore, I realize that I do not need to focus on the end project, but each step to help bring us to the final project.
I believe that when we approach something that we believe is difficult then we need to keep our eye on the prize. For me, the prize will be the satisfaction at the end of the semester that I will do something (at least I hope so) that I initially doubted I was capable of. I also know that taking this class will make me much more marketable when I begin my job search. Does that mean I feel secure at this point? No. However, I will often remind myself of Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot do.”
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