And we’re off!

Hi there! I figure it would probably be a good idea to give some background on myself before jumping head first into this little adventure. My name is Kathryn Greenan, and I’m a third year history student at Carleton University. You probably already know me, or at least my type: the student who comes to university bright-eyed and bushy tailed ready to change the world – it is the capital, after all – only to seemingly disappear into the crush of likewise good, great, and even exceptional people that tend to populate every university campus. You spend enough time hanging around the movers and shakers of the college world and it becomes increasingly difficult to not start making jokes about how excited you are to be a barista after graduating or what a fine blanket/fire/handkerchief your degree will make.

To say the least, by the end of my second year at Carleton I was fairly apathetic towards my coursework. I decided to enroll in as many classes that I could find being taught by Dr. Shawn Graham, who had taught the mandatory second year history class the previous year which I enjoyed a fair bit. The two courses I took that specifically pertained to Digital Humanities in 2014/2015 taught me a lot: who some major players in the field of digital humanities were; what trends in work there seemed to be within those circles; countless programs, resources, sharing platforms, and methods; to think about accessibility and how the way your work is presented can affect its message and utility; and that failing is okay, especially if you do it where everyone can see. You can see such learning and failure at my blog kept during HIST 3907B: Data Mining and Visualization via this link.

The overarching theme that came from my year of part time studies and HIST 3907B was a desire to do better. To build upon the mistakes I’d made, probably make some new mistakes along the way, and prove to myself (and a lesser degree, Dr. Graham) that I could do this. So, course registration for the 2015/2016 year opened. HIST 3907 is once again being offered. I took the plunge, registered, and very soon after, received an email from Dr. Graham; who was pleasantly surprised that I was indeed planning to attack the course once again. When he sent me a link to the George Garth Graham Fellowship later on in the summer, I was excited, then nervous, and then started furiously researching and reflecting on what I would propose as my ideal project, with direction from his suggestion that perhaps augmented/virtual reality in regards to teaching history would interest me.

I spent entirely too much time getting very caught up with everything I could find regarding the topic and the finer details, to the point that I dang near missed the deadline. Ultimately, my submission, as seen on the announcement of my getting the position is as follows:

My ideal project would be to expand upon the latter portion of Pickering’s work regarding the acceptance of using ‘alternative’ platforms for teaching and learning history, particularly in regards to the use of augmented or virtual reality. With our society and lives becoming even more entangled with technology – and the advent of products like Google Glass and Oculus Rift; both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) respectively are on the cusp of becoming more commonplace in the world. With this, so too do the implications of these technologies on education need to be considered. I am interested in working on how this sort of technology can be used to teach and learn history at all levels: what the capabilities are, how to explore and make ‘good’ history, and what weaknesses these platforms present are just a few of the questions I have in mind to explore at this point.

With these questions in mind, I had my first meeting with Dr. Graham on the first day of term about where we would take that in terms of actually creating something. I spent part of the summer taking a course concerning the environmental history of the area surrounding campus, and found it quite interesting. As of now, I’d like to mesh these two things together and will be exploring the concept, implications, (and creation) of an app that will utilize augmented reality to tell the history of Carleton University. Our meeting ended with Dr. Graham suggesting several resources and materials to look at to get me started, and as such I’ll have a more in-depth post about that coming shortly, since this one became a bit of a monster.

I’m thrilled to be the George Garth Graham Fellow this semester, and am looking forward to connecting with people in the community who may be involved in similar projects to this! You can contact me on twitter at @kathryngreenan, by email, or by commenting on the blog.

Kathryn Greenan

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