Experience of other students builds confidence

Since last September, I have been in the shoes of a student, pursuing a graduate certificate in digital public humanities through George Mason University (GMU). This summer my focus has been on remaking a history of mass communication course. And as a student, it is reassuring to know that others have faced this challenge before.

We recently were asked to view several video clips of former students discussing their projects and then to consider what we learned from their experiences. I can’t say I learned anything new, but watching the videos gave me more confidence that I am on the right track with the work that I am pursuing in The Paraclete Project.

One former student’s project spoke to me because it involved reconsidering the structure and goals of a survey course. GMU doctoral candidate Erin Bush’s Women on Trial project, meant for a course on legal history, examines a series of cases of women who have been accused of murder. In many respects, I found her project’s challenges mirroring my own: she built it on WordPress, she had to rethink her syllabus, she assembled materials that allowed students to see history from multiple perspectives. She also had to address the fact that her students would include non-historians. For her, that meant creating resources that did not exist, such as how to read a trial as a historical document. In similar fashion, I know from experience that our course on the history of mass communication often includes non-journalism majors.

Work on The Paraclete Project continues, but I hope the opportunity to try it out comes soon.