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Digital Praxis Seminar, Spring 2015

MALS 75500 | IDS 81640
Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15, Room 6495
Profs. Amanda Hickman ( and Luke Waltzer (
Course blog:


Aiming to ensure that new students begin thinking about digital scholarship and teaching from the moment they enter the Graduate Center, this year-long sequence of two three-credit courses introduces a variety of digital tools and digital methods through lectures offered by high-profile scholars and technologists, hands-on workshops, and collaborative projects. Students enrolled in the two-course sequence will complete their first year at the GC having been introduced to a broad range of ways to critically evaluate and to incorporate digital technologies into their academic research and teaching. In addition, they will have explored a particular area of digital scholarship and/or pedagogy of interest to them, produced a digital project in collaboration with fellow students, and established a digital portfolio that can be used to display their work. The two connected three-credit courses will be offered during the Fall and Spring semesters as MALS classes for master’s students and Interdisciplinary Studies courses for doctoral students.

During the Fall 2014 semester, students explored the landscape of the digital humanities, exploring a range of ways of approaching DH work and coming up with potential projects to create. In Spring 2015, we will put those proposals into action by taking, as our goal, the production of a small number of those projects by the end of the semester. Students will split into teams and, by the end of the semester, create proofs of concept for DH projects. Students will end the class having gained hands-on experience in the planning, production, and dissemination of a digital humanities project and having picked up a variety of skills along the way.

The class will hold a public event at the end of the semester to launch its projects. Students should not think of their work as student projects, but rather as real entries into a public dialogue on the use of digital tools in and around the academy. All projects should have a trajectory and timeline of their own that extends beyond the course itself. The Spring term is inspired by the work of the Praxis Program at the University of Virginia, and made possible by support from the Graduate Center Provost’s Office and the GC Digital Fellows Program.

About the Faculty

Amanda Hickman teaches data analysis and visualization at CUNY Graduate School of Jouranlism. She works at the intersection of journalism and civic engagement, and values reporting that makes it easier for individuals to participate in democratic processes. As program director at DocumentCloud, she helped reporters around the world analyze, annotate, and publish primary source documents. Amanda managed development of a series of games about public policy issues as Gotham Gazette‘s director of technology. She has spent more than a decade reporting on local and international events and working directly with community based organizations to understand, and draw their membership into, the political process. Amanda has taught at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, NYU’s Gallatin School and CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

Office Hours: Tuesdays 3:15-4:00 in room 4103 or by appointment at the Graduate School of Journalism, 219 West 40th Street, Room 419i. (gtalk:, AIM: amandahlinc, Skype: amandabee). I'm generally available at the Journalism School on Tuesdays, 9-3 and Wednesdays 9-1.

Luke Waltzer is the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Baruch College, and a member of the faculty of the Graduate Center's Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program. At Baruch he directs two ed tech software projects -- Blogs@Baruch, a large WordPress/Buddypress network, and Vocat, a homegrown video and media evaluation platform -- that enhance teaching and learning at the College. He also supports Baruch's development of online and hybrid courses, co-coordinates the Writing Across the Curriculum program, and manages Quantitative Reasoning and Multimedia Fellows. Trained as a historian, he has published essays on the place of pedagogy in the digital humanities and on the integration of open source digital tools into undergraduate history curricula. He has taught courses in cultural, social, and digital history, as well as both core courses in the GC's ITP program.

Office Hours: by appointment on phone, chat (GTalk: AIM:, or in meatspace at Baruch College.

About the Course

Learning Objectives

Students will...

  • gain hands-on experience in the planning, production, and dissemination of a digital humanities project
  • work collaboratively in teams to produce all aspects of their chosen project.
  • occupy specific roles within their teams in accordance with their strengths and desires for learning.
  • document and reflect upon their progress through personal and team-based lab journals and public blogging on our course site.
  • learn how to develop new skills independently.

Requirements and Structure

Weekly Class Sessions: This is a praxis-based course, so most of our class sessions will be devoted to team meetings, project work, informal and formal presentations, and consultations with Graduate Center Digital Fellows. Weekly readings may be assigned based on need. Students are expected to be working every week on their projects and project plans.

Progress Reports and Social Media Presence

Each team will produce at least one public, process-oriented project report each week, to be posted on our shared course blog and tagged with a project-specific tag. Reports should catalogue project activities, discuss the progress that's been made, explore tricky problems, reach out to the general public with questions, and cultivate interest in the project.

Each team should also create a social media presence for their projects and use such accounts to share information and build an audience for the project.

Individual Lab Journals

Each student will keep an individual journal that should be used to catalogue weekly activities and progress, explore sticky questions, share personal reflections, and work through problems. Journals can be posted publicly to the course blog or kept privately. They should be shared with both instructors every week and are due by midnight, Sunday.

You must let Amanda and Luke know where you will be keeping your journal by midnight, February 8th, when your first reflection is due.

Project Requirements

  • Projects should relate to the digital humanities as explored through the Fall semester
  • Project plans should address all aspects of the project life cycle, from development to deployment to testing to launch to sustainability.
  • Projects must be public and project code must be open source and accessible online
  • All code must be logically organized and clearly documented
  • A prototype of the project must be realized by the end of the semester
  • Projects will be launched publicly at the final class of the year

Project Report and Personal Reflection

  • A final project report (15-20 pages) must be submitted by each team at the end of the semester.
  • Each student in the class will also submit a paper (3-5 pages) that details their contributions to the project and how the experience of working on it fits into the arc of their professional development and interests.


  • 75% -- team project grade
  • 25% -- individual grade, based on lab journals, faculty consultations and your contributions to the team project.

Week by Week

Week 1 | Feb 03

Discussion Welcome. Introductions, logistics, role defintion, discussion of potential projects

Week 2 | Feb 10

Decision Day
elevator pitches, team formation, preliminary planning

Week 3 | Feb 17

Due Midnight Sunday: Draft Project Plans, Journals

In Class: Role meetings

Week 4 | Feb 24

Due Midnight Sunday: Group project update posted to Commons blog or your project blog, Personal Journal Entries

Presenting Project: CUNY Cast

Week 5 | Mar 03

Due Midnight Sunday: Journal Entries
Presenting Project: Digital HUAC

Week 6 | Mar 10

Due Midnight Sunday: 1-3 possible Minimum Viable Product descriptions, Journal Entries

Presenting Project: Tandem

Week 7 | Mar 17

Due Midnight Sunday: Journal Entries

Presenting Project: Fashion Index

Week 8 | Mar 24


Presenting Project: CUNYCast

Week 9 | Mar 31

Presenting Project: Digital HUAC

Spring Break | Apr 07

Week 10 | Apr 14

Presenting Projects: Tandem, Fashion Index

Week 11 | Apr 21

Presenting Projects: Digital HUAC, CUNYCast

Week 12 | Apr 28

t-two weeks

Week 13 | May 05

t-one week

Week 14 | May 12

Project Launch Dress Rehearsal

Week 15 | May 19

Public Project Launch: Rooms 9204/9205, The Graduate Center