Course Policies

First, we’re going to read about, explore, research, analyze, argue about, and critique the ways in which digital tools, technologies, and spaces have transformed (and are continually transforming) work in our fields.

Second, we’re going to create, design, craft, mash, mix, and produce using digital tools, technologies, and spaces, and reflect on the ways in which such practices enhance, inform, or change our work in our fields.

During this course, we will be using and learning a number of different technologies.  We could spend a whole semester on any one week of the syllabus.  But as an introductory course, our purpose here is to introduce you to a lot of different tools and technologies so that as you advance in your field, you can select the ones that will work best for your research.  This also means that will run into technical problems and frustrations but the key to remember is that failure is an option.  The primary directive is to try.  We often learn a good deal more by struggling with technology.  However, never let it get you too frustrated.  Reach out to your instructors or other students in the class.  We will try to keep it fun and playful, but if you ever feel overwhelmed talk to your instructors.

Required Readings:

All reading materials can be found on the course web site (http://dh.matrix.msu.edu/).  Software, applications, and equipment needed for doing projects will be available online and/or for your use in LEADR (112 Old Horticulture).

Each week the readings will not be overwhelming (many of the readings will be suggested and not required).  However, it is important for you to review any materials required for the week before you get to class.

Another reason we are not assigning a lot of readings is that you will be collecting materials for your particular project.

Meeting Space:

We will be meeting in LEADR (112 Old Horticulture).  You can use the lab space during its open hours and you can borrow equipment for your work (http://leadr.msu.edu/).


Web Site: As part of the course, you will be creating a professional web site for yourself.  To do so, we have set up a free service for you at https://domains.cal.msu.edu.  You will not only create your digital presence here but you will do your weekly blogging assignments at your site.

You can keep this site for free for the remainder of your time at MSU.  Once you leave MSU, you can either transfer the site to a new location or keep the site for a modest subscription fee.  You can also terminate the site at the end of the course.

If you prefer not to have a digital identity, you can keep the site password protected for the duration of the course and then delete it after grades are submitted.

If you already have a web site, you do not need to make a new one — although you can.  Or you may choose to set up a quick blog to use only for the course.

Zotero Bibliography:  During the course you will be using Zotero for two purposes.  One, to collect the resources for your project.  Two, to share your resources with the class.  You will be expected to collect a bibliography for your project.  The bibliography does not need to be simply text but could be projects, audio, video, and images.

Question: How many citations do you need? Answer:  Enough to do your project.

Weekly Blog Assignment: Each week you will create a blog post on your web site that addresses issues raised in the week’s tools, projects and readings.  Blog posts are informal pieces of writing that vary between scattered notes and a published piece.  We do not want you to write formal essays each week but rather create thought pieces that show you are engaging with the materials.

You could write a review of a project, critique a reading, write about failures and successes in using the tools, or simply keep notes.  We expect this a place for you to be working out your ideas and asking questions.  It should also address thinking about your project.

Project: The course will focus on developing a digital project in several steps. While you will do your project as an individual, we will encourage collaboration and forming groups.  It is always helpful to find others in the class doing similar projects.

The key to your digital project is both to have ambition and to focus on your research area.  “Doing a project” does not mean that you need to complete the project within the short 14 weeks of this course.  You may only finish part and have drawings and documents to explain how the rest will work.  The key is to meet with and negotiate your project with your instructors.

We will do the project in stages.

Stage 1 — Proposal and Environmental Scan:  The first step in doing a digital project is to produce a proposal.  You may actually propose several possibilities to review with your instructors and other colleagues.  Write your proposal to explain what, why and how (to the best of your ability at this moment of the course).  You may offer several brief possibilities.

Also it is important to identify and briefly review other similar projects, which you should gather in Zotero. This will be an ongoing project in itself as you build your bibliography.

Stage 2 — Updated Proposal and Environmental Scan: This repeats the above assignment but give you a chance to more fully explain all facets of the project and to update your bibliography.

Stage 3 — Project Planning Documents: A digital humanities project requires the development of planning documents.  To this end, you will produce a project description that will include its field significance (with citations) as well as a description of the deployed technologies.  The description may include wire-frames, story-boards, user experience design templates, among others that will be discussed during the course.

Stage 4 — Final Project:  This can include analysis of a spatial or network dataset, text mining of field materials, the creation of an archive and exhibit, a 3D recreation, an analytical tool, among many other possibilities to be discussed during the course.  The scope and type of project will be determined in consultation with your instructors.


Digital Humanities Methods is an experiential learning course that helps students understand DH methods and research through digital technologies and active learning.  To support this mission, we will focus on:

  • Enriching understanding of your field through the application of digital technologies;
  • Developing an expanded repertoire of digital tools, applications, and techniques;
  • Becoming more thoughtful, critical, and reflective users of digital tools, technologies, and spaces;
  • Expanding the ability to apply this knowledge digital technologies to historical research and methods.

In this course, you will learn by hands on practice and collaborative experiences.  Because this course is an interactive  and collaborative course, it requires high levels of student participation. Come to class prepared to discuss the readings due that day. Plan on expressing your ideas, frustrations, questions, confusions, etc., even if you’re not able to articulate them without some hesitation—sometimes ambivalent or ambiguous remarks spark the liveliest discussions.   If you are absent, you miss valuable class time with your peers and will have difficulty keeping up with the pace of the class. If you miss class, you are still responsible for obtaining class notes and completing work you missed.


Grading will be based on participation, completion of all assignments, and the quality of your final project.  You will not receive a grade until the end of the course; however, you will receive feedback on all of your assignments as well as a midterm review.  If you ever have a question about how you are doing, don’t hesitate to meet with your instructors.


University Policies


Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, the History adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site:www.msu.edu.)

Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work you completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Also, you are not authorized to use the www.allmsu.com Web site to complete any course work in this course. Students who violate MSU academic integrity rules may receive a penalty grade, including a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also the Academic Integrity webpage.)


Essays, journals, and other materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University’s student record policies.  However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, may not be able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues to protect the health and safety of MSU community members and others.  As the instructor, I must report the following information to other University offices (including the Department of Police and Public Safety) if you share it with me:

–Suspected child abuse/neglect, even if this maltreatment happened when you were a child,

–Allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment when they involve MSU students, faculty, or staff, and

–Credible threats of harm to oneself or to others.

These reports may trigger contact from a campus official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared.  In almost all cases, it will be your decision whether you wish to speak with that individual.  If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting you are encouraged to make an appointment with the MSU Counseling Center.


(from the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD): Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at rcpd.msu.edu. Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a Verified Individual Services Accommodation (“VISA”) form. Please present this form to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (test, project, etc.). Requests received after this date may not be honored.


The last day to add this course is the end of the first week of classes. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported can be found on the Academic Calendar. The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported found on the Academic Calendar. You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Commercialized Lecture Notes

The Code of Teaching Responsibility requires that students receive the written consent of the instructor to sell or otherwise commercialize class notes and materials. Specifically, the Code of Teaching Responsibility states, “Instructors may allow commercialization by including permission in the course syllabus or other written statement distributed to all students in the class.”


Some professional journals will not consider a submission for publication if the article has appeared on the Internet. Please notify your instructor in writing if you do not want your course papers posted to the course Web site.

Disruptive Behavior

Article 2.III.B.4 of the Student Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) for students at Michigan State University states: “The student’s behavior in the classroom shall be conducive to the teaching and learning process for all concerned.” Article 2.III.B.10 of the SRR states that “The student and the faculty share the responsibility for maintaining professional relationships based on mutual trust and civility.” General Student Regulation 5.02 states: “No student shall . . . interfere with the functions and services of the University (for example, but not limited to, classes . . .) such that the function or service is obstructed or disrupted. Students whose conduct adversely affects the learning environment in this classroom may be subject to disciplinary action.


Students whose names do not appear on the official class list for this course may not attend this class. Students who fail to attend the first four class sessions or class by the fifth day of the semester, whichever occurs first, may be dropped from the course.