Banner Lecture for VHS

I was truly honored when the Virginia Historical Society, a wonderful museum and archive, asked me to give one of the famous Banner Lectures on my book. Oddly enough, though I've presented various parts at a number of conferences, I've never done a formal presentation of the whole project. So, I had a good time putting this talk together and it turned out pretty well. I got some great questions from the audience.



Thanks again to Nelson Lankford, Frances Pollard, and the rest of the VHS staff for all the work that they do to contribute to the history of Virginia.

Banner Lecture for VHS

I was truly honored when the Virginia Historical Society, a wonderful museum and archive, asked me to give one of the famous Banner Lectures on my book. Oddly enough, though I've presented various parts at a number of conferences, I've never done a formal presentation of the whole project. So, I had a good time putting this talk together and it turned out pretty well. I got some great questions from the audience.



Thanks again to Nelson Lankford, Frances Pollard, and the rest of the VHS staff for all the work that they do to contribute to the history of Virginia.

AAHC–Teaching with Digital Tools

I'm pleased to be part of a roundtable on "Teaching with Digital Tools" at the American Association of History and Computing conference at George Mason on April 4.

The panel (with the classy Clioweb (Jeremy Boggs) and UCLA's Joshua Sternfeld), we've decided to avoid formal presentations and to organize our discussions around six key questions about the subject. We'll each give our answers and look to the audience for comments and further questions.
  • What are your goals in terms of using digital tools in teaching?
  • What evaluation standards do you employ in evaluating your students' digital work?
  • How do you balance teaching historical content and teaching tech skills?
  • How have you integrated historiography into your teaching methods?
  • Tell us a particular assignment involving digital tools that was very successful (or very unsuccessful). What was it, and why do you think it was successful/unsuccessful?
  • What do you see as the future of teaching and technology?
I know we're missing some things here, but these seem like a good start. What would you ask?

AAHC–Teaching with Digital Tools

I'm pleased to be part of a roundtable on "Teaching with Digital Tools" at the American Association of History and Computing conference at George Mason on April 4.

The panel (with the classy Clioweb (Jeremy Boggs) and UCLA's Joshua Sternfeld), we've decided to avoid formal presentations and to organize our discussions around six key questions about the subject. We'll each give our answers and look to the audience for comments and further questions.
  • What are your goals in terms of using digital tools in teaching?
  • What evaluation standards do you employ in evaluating your students' digital work?
  • How do you balance teaching historical content and teaching tech skills?
  • How have you integrated historiography into your teaching methods?
  • Tell us a particular assignment involving digital tools that was very successful (or very unsuccessful). What was it, and why do you think it was successful/unsuccessful?
  • What do you see as the future of teaching and technology?
I know we're missing some things here, but these seem like a good start. What would you ask?

Contemplating Online Academic Publishing

This post began as a comment on Laura Blankenship's Emerging Technologies Consulting blog. Laura noted that the topic of online academic publishing and how it relates to tenure and other institutional academic concerns was going to be part of her formal role as a speaker/leader at this year's Faculty Academy. My response was as follows:

I can't wait to hear what you have to say in May. This is a particularly tough issue and one that has gotten a great deal of resistance when broached (at UMW and elsewhere) in formal or informal ways in a variety of conversations I've been a part of lately.

On one hand the change to a new system is always complicated (and frankly, even in the old system, the disciplinary differences are enough to make university-wide review committees shudder--e.g., how many psychology articles equal a book in history? I have my own argument, but all would agree that my perspective on this is fairly biased). So, that resistance isn't that surprising.

Yet, on the surface, online publishing should make a lot of things easier, not harder, to assess for tenure and/or merit pay:

1) Financial limitations that restrict #/size/scope of published works exist on a completely different scale in the online world, especially once a system for peer-reviewed academic e-publishing is built.

1a) It seems almost a no-brainer that scholarly journals should move on-line completely (or at least in part) given the large percentage of costs that publishing those journals entails.

2) Measuring impact -- There must be some way of measuring the number of readers/links/hits/formal citations in other peer-reviewed articles or books/presence in syllabi. Now, obviously these things could be gamed (i.e., hits and uniques) or narrowed by restrictive access to some of the examples (BB course syllabi aren't accessible, for example, nor are many online, but peer-reviewed articles in collections like JSTOR).


I'm sure there are many things I'm forgetting/overlooking here, but I'm really looking forward to Laura's exploration of the topic in May. Every institution needs to have that conversation.

Contemplating Online Academic Publishing

This post began as a comment on Laura Blankenship's Emerging Technologies Consulting blog. Laura noted that the topic of online academic publishing and how it relates to tenure and other institutional academic concerns was going to be part of her formal role as a speaker/leader at this year's Faculty Academy. My response was as follows:

I can't wait to hear what you have to say in May. This is a particularly tough issue and one that has gotten a great deal of resistance when broached (at UMW and elsewhere) in formal or informal ways in a variety of conversations I've been a part of lately.

On one hand the change to a new system is always complicated (and frankly, even in the old system, the disciplinary differences are enough to make university-wide review committees shudder--e.g., how many psychology articles equal a book in history? I have my own argument, but all would agree that my perspective on this is fairly biased). So, that resistance isn't that surprising.

Yet, on the surface, online publishing should make a lot of things easier, not harder, to assess for tenure and/or merit pay:

1) Financial limitations that restrict #/size/scope of published works exist on a completely different scale in the online world, especially once a system for peer-reviewed academic e-publishing is built.

1a) It seems almost a no-brainer that scholarly journals should move on-line completely (or at least in part) given the large percentage of costs that publishing those journals entails.

2) Measuring impact -- There must be some way of measuring the number of readers/links/hits/formal citations in other peer-reviewed articles or books/presence in syllabi. Now, obviously these things could be gamed (i.e., hits and uniques) or narrowed by restrictive access to some of the examples (BB course syllabi aren't accessible, for example, nor are many online, but peer-reviewed articles in collections like JSTOR).


I'm sure there are many things I'm forgetting/overlooking here, but I'm really looking forward to Laura's exploration of the topic in May. Every institution needs to have that conversation.

Writing a Strategic Plan for Academic Technologies & Libraries

Our institution is going through a major process of strategic planning, and one on a fairly accelerated timetable. We need to have a complete draft by May and after feedback from the Board and the rest of the academic community, have a plan in place by November. I'm a member of the strategic planning steering committee, the group responsible for directing the process and for writing the final report, as well as being part of some of the discussions of the pieces of the report.

Now, strategic plans are funny things. Done right, they can set aspirational and practical goals for an institution that can drive fund-raising, shape organizational decisions, and determine the investment of key resources. Done wrong, they can create needless animosity, fear, confusion, and leave an institution in worse shape than before the process. But even when done well, the best strategic plan is useless unless the administration and the academic community as a whole relies on it, turns to it, uses it. So, the first question might be, why bother? Why invest time in an enterprise that has such a potential for failure? The answer is that I believe that this effort is a real opportunity for change, a true chance to articulate a vision for the direction of this institution, a remarkable moment in the life of the institution. I, and many of my colleagues, choose to see this as a time to think boldly about the future of the liberal arts university we care so much about.

One area in which I believe bold, visionary thought is both required and possible is in the area of academic technologies and libraries. I see the three key reasons why this area of discussion is particularly important for Mary Washington right now.
  1. Virtually everyone who talks about the future of institutions of higher education sees academic technologies and libraries as critical vehicles (paths, jump-starters, incubators, facilitators -- choose your metaphor as you wish) for the growth of colleges and universities.
  2. Academic technologies offer a chance for smaller institutions to compete with much larger schools with much more sizable resource budgets. Also, assuming a basic computing infrastructure is in place, digital tools and technologies also allow for a quick ramp-up time for projects, easier piloting of new ideas, access to significantly larger (and better organized) library and archival collections, and widespread changes to existing systems or practices.
  3. Finally, UMW already has a number of critical resources in place with which we can build, create, and innovate boldly. [UMWblogs is perhaps the best known digital tool, and Faculty Academy may be the best-known event; but by "resources" I really mean a dedicated group of librarians, instructional technology artists, staff, and faculty. It is these genuinely creative, caring, thoughtful, reflective, and revolutionary people who must lead and effect the bold changes for which I'm hoping.]
In the next month, the strategic planning discussion group on Academic Technologies and Libraries needs to come up with 2-3 big goals in this area for the institution with several smaller objectives and a number of specific measurable benchmarks that would reflect progress toward those goals and objectives.

So, help me and UMW to think boldly about these critical components of a successful institution. What would be on your top list of goals for a small (~4,000 undergraduates, ~1,000 graduate and professional students) institution of higher learning? What are the necessary digital and/or library components of an liberal arts university of the 21st century? What could we do to be a leader among our peers in the fields of academic technology, library services and information resources?