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Welcome and Introduction to DHRI@SMU 2019

  • A Foundational Approach to Digital Humanities Research

As part of our welcome process, we’ll provide some of the history of the project, review the schedule,establish the objectives for the Institute, and ask participants to engage in an introductions and ice breaker activity. We’ll review the objectives and the schedule for the next few days, sort out pedagogical practices, and set our ambitious course for our time together. Everything we do throughout the institute is collaboratively and community-driven.

Before the session, please watch/read


  • The following links are designed to ensure that all incoming participants have a familiarity with core concepts in how computers and the internet work. They will introduce terms such as input, output, storage, CPU, hardware, software, bits, circuits, and the operating system, as well as wired, cables, wifi, packets, DNS, IP addresses, packets and routing, HTTP and HTML, encryption, public keys, and how search works. The skills workshops will begin with an assumption that you are at least familiar with these concepts and terminology.



  • In this section, attendees should come to understand how this learning environment is designed to work. This is essential because it will let them know what to expect and how to get the most out of this experience. These are the rules, norms, and goals. While the lesson may be individualized the learning experience will be collective. By the end of the week they will not be digital humanities experts but they will be on their way to become full participants in a digital humanities community.
  • Context/Mission:Pilot Program

    • Sore vs Pain: A low level of confusion will be the norm.
    • "What is simple for one use is not for another"
    • Lessons are a mix of doing and listening: Instruction is happening on your screen and through the instructor.
    • We are doing this learning together.
    • Ask your group member
    • Ask your supporters.
    • This is made for repeated practice, use when necessary
    • Make the practice authentic (the challenges are designed to actually challenge you)
    • The sessions should build on each other. If they seem unrelated ask for clarification. Practice being a good teammate. We are establishing a community of practice.
  • Learning Objectives

    • An understanding of the importance of community in Digital Humanities and how that might differ from other types of scholarly communities.
    • An understanding that Communities of Practice are the structure of this workshop series and means working together to improve everyone’s learning.
    • Able to identify the support and instruction they will receive.
    • Digital Humanities is inherently interdisciplinary and collaborative, by participating in the activities with their fellow attendees they will simulate the work done by digital humanists.
    • Attendees should come to understand how to define DH (in a way that is useful for them). This is essential because DH is so many things, what definition is useful for their research and scholarship. learn how to read 'bibliography' of dh project to see what went into it (about page)
    • Applied Knowledge Scenario/Context: Meet and greet. Stating goals, expectations, and motivations. Interest etc.
  • Performance Indicator:

    • Interaction will fellow attendees. Demonstrate an understanding that this is the start of a process and that community is essential for the performance of Digital humanities.
    • Attendees can articulate more sophisticated questions than previous.
  • Example(s): What skills needed for supporting hands on: Overall knowledge of what is planned for the week. Able to answer administrative types questions about what attendees show expect.


  • Digital Humanities Research Institute approach attendees should come to understand how this learning environment is designed to work.
  • This is essential because it will let them know what to expect and how to get the most out of this experience. (These are the rules, norms, and goals.)
  • While the lesson may be individualized the learning experience will be collective.
  • Our goal is that you are more comfortable asking and answering questions, not that you will always know the answer.
  • By the end of the week they will not be digital humanities experts but they will be on their way to become full participants in a digital humanities community.

Pedagogical approach

"The DHRI curriculum places great emphasis on foundational technical skills, and roughly one-third of all sessions at the Institute could be described as foundational. ... The difference between an instrumental approach and a foundational approach is often not immediately appreciated by participants, but over time they begin to change their minds. Although an instrumental approach satisfies a researcher’s most immediate need, a foundational approach takes into consideration the long term impact that learning core skills will have for the future professional and research needs of the scholar."

DHRI: Notes toward our pedagogical approach by Lisa Rhody, June 17, 2019

  • We explain why understanding grounding principles in how computers work, in what it means to work from the command line, in learning the principles behind good practices for sharing documents, about how coding works, (what databases are), and how coding can be used to search, sort, count, and cluster in ways that can be helpful for humanistic research.
  • There is a lot that personal computers allow us to take for granted when we do our work; however, knowing fundamentals can help humanities scholars become more confident users and critics of digital technologies.
  • Such knowledge leads not only to becoming a better self-teacher, but to more reflective and informed technology choices. It allows us to save time in creating projects when we know what a well-formed dataset should or could look like, when we know what the difference is between using proprietary software rather than open source, and what kind of support might be needed as projects grow.

Why use Communities of Practice (CoP) set up?

  1. CoP is the structure of this workshop series
  2. CoP means working together to improve everyone’s learning.
  3. By participating in the activities with their fellow attendees they will simulate the work done by digital humanists


Community of Practice Design Guide: A Step-by-Step Guide for Designing & Cultivating Communities of Practice in Higher Education

Teaching in a Digital Age: Communities of practice

Collaborative group set up

Based on A better way to teach technical skills to a group

The pedagogical logics of each workshop session, and how we expect them to build on each other

  • DHRIs' goal is to create pipeline, so you know what next steps you want to take or what partners you want to seek out. there is a focus on foundational understanding, so you know what questions you want to ask. What are the fundamental conceptual understandings/frameworks needed for: Computational thinking? Humanities thinking? Computation humanities/digital humanities? Collaborative work in the Humanities/ Interdisciplinary work?

    • What does each workshop do? How does the next one build on it?
  • Introductions to communities of practice and what is Digital Humanities? How do you determine what kinds of DH you want to do, and what skills does that type of DH require in terms of your skill building or what partners do you then need to seek out. No DH project is an island! (unless maybe it is a veeeeeeery small island)

  • Command line is to understand the structure of computers and their logic. Introduces conceptualization/ helps to understand directory structure. Helps understand how scripts work, so when you set up tools in the future, you can set them up to be useful for what you are trying to do. The goal is that when you are setting up environments in something like Rstudio (and it asks you about regrex),you can make informed choices about the settings.

  • Git is the logic of versioning of collaborative works as programmers do it, so you can not worry about losing data, collaborative works (coding). #Also, how to FTP.

  • Data literacies "Data literacy includes statistical literacy but also understanding how to work with large data sets, how they were produced, how to connect various data sets and how to interpret them.”. When we talk about data in the humanities, what do we mean? Big? Smart? Clean? Messy?

    • Tools Understanding what data you need and what you want to do with that allows you to determine if you need a specifc script/library package or if you can use a DH tool for your specfic question.

      • When a tool or program (such as even Zotero, Voyant) asks you to set up an environemnt or choose specific setting you are making choices that will shape your results.
      • When you are setting up your tools, questions are being asked that will shape the answers/results you get. If the sert up questions don't make sense, you will have a better sense of what expertise you want to seek out to help you choose.
    • Note: Skill in programming or tools only grows when you are using them to complete a project (skill building is usually project-based).

  • To build a complete project/expertise is beyond the scope of this institute, but we want to help you build the foundation, and perhaps even an outline of your goal. We want to help you get to a point where you are comfortable figuring it out (stack exchange) or you know when you have a question, how to phrase it and find the expertise you want to draw upon (community of practice)

  • In the closing Project Lab we will work on applying what we have discussed to your specific research data/questions.

Next >>>

What you will find in this Repository



DHRI Background

What is DH?

How do we do that?

Why coding?

Follow up

Related Repositories:

Session Leaders: Jonathan McMichael & Rafia Mirza

Written by Rafia Mirza. Partially based on previous work by GCDI staff. Our curriculum is based on the Digital Research Institute (DHRI) Curriculum by Graduate Center Digital Initiatives.
This repository contains information for using and contributing to the Digital Humanities Research Institute curriculum

Creative Commons License

Digital Research Institute (DRI) Curriculum by Graduate Center Digital Initiatives is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at When sharing this material or derivative works, preserve this paragraph, changing only the title of the derivative work, or provide comparable attribution.

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