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Digital Humanities

Introducing Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities is the application of digital tools to answer questions within humanities scholarship. An early adopter of computer technology, Trevor introduced laptops in the classroom in 1996. Twenty-three years later, we are again at the forefront of academic technology—now, with a digital humanities curriculum. Currently a part of the history department, the vision is to expand its scope to other disciplines.

Unlike other initiatives in educational technology, which layer digital tools onto an existing curriculum, Trevor’s Digital Humanities program encourages a deep integration of digital and historical thinking skills. Using textual analysis tools, for example, students can dig deeply into a historical primary source, noting the significance and interrelationship of each word, while also placing each text within the context of hundreds or thousands of other documents from the same era. Digital tools can equip students to meet the quantum levels of data that are available to them. They can move easily from the micro to the macro, formulating questions and testing methods along the way. In this way, the nature of the curriculum, as well as the role of student inquiry, is transformed.

Dr. Nina Rosenblatt - Upper School History Teacher

Unlike other initiatives in educational technology, which layer digital tools onto an existing curriculum, Trevor’s Digital Humanities program encourages a deep integration of digital and historical thinking skills.
Trevor’s thinking about digital humanities coincided with its strategic planning and commitment to inquiry-based learning pedagogies. Co-founders Dr. Nina Rosenblatt, Upper School History Teacher, and Mr. David Thomas, Upper School History Teacher and Department Chair, devised history courses in conjunction with Trevor’s computer science department (and with support from colleagues at NYU and Columbia), that would reflect Trevor’s commitment to this mode of inquiry. They chose themes that would engage young people and to which students could bring their own knowledge and perspective: in year one, the “History of Youth,” followed by a study of Yorkville in year two.

The stakes could not be higher for secondary schools to embrace digital humanities. Most colleges and universities are in the process of creating programs—if not entire departments—devoted to digital scholarship in the humanities, but most students do not encounter digital humanities skills until upper-level college or graduate courses. There are many reasons to engage students for this work earlier—the least of which is that 21st century learners are uniquely prepared for cutting-edge digital inquiry. As they always do, Trevor students are embracing the challenge and opportunity—and in the process, producing sophisticated and meaningful historical research.