Vicki Cummins

Project Proposal

I am requesting support from the Mellon “Collaborative Pedagogies in the Digital Age” grant because I am committed to preparing our students for the future while they study the past. This fall, I will offer joint courses, History 250A “Introduction to Historical Research Methods” and History 495 “Historiography and Historical Methods.” My goal is to teach students to master the tools of the digital age that have transformed historical research: on-line searching and the use of digital resources for historical research; electronic note taking, word processing, and presentation of statistical material; and presentation of results through digital means like PowerPoints, websites and social media.

Achieving my goal will require institutional support. Up to this point, the courses have been taught in an “old fashioned” paper-dependent format. This Mellon grant will afford me for the first time the opportunity to receive the structural and infrastructural support necessary to reorient the course to embrace the research and dissemination opportunities of the digital age. To do this, I need to increase my mastery of the usage of the major components of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint), the basic computer programs currently used by historians. I can do this by additional training using I also need to learn the uses of Nota Bene, the most popular data processing software package used by the younger generation of historians who grew up with computers. This programs’s applications will be key to future historical research.

The stipend and software/hardware support from this grant will prepare me to transform this course, teaching the students useful digital strategies for conducting historical investigations and introducing them to the software and online venues for the analysis and dissemination of student research products.

The goals of the course will be the following:

  1. to teach historical research methodology for the digital age
  2. To provide a structured array of research activities in a group collaborative effort that will allow the students to conduct digital research projects. The course will also familiarize students with software and operating system strategies for collection, organization, usage, and dissemination of information developed during research activities
  3. To provide students with opportunities and mechanisms to offer digitized expressions of their research results, thereby providing individual recognition for their work in the dissemination of research products
  4. To prepare students, especially those in the Austin Teacher Program, for a largely paperless future in academe by conducting as much of the class as possible (research and writing) using computers and digital resources. 5 To provide students with documentable experience with software programs and other digital methodologies appropriate to the discipline of history, which will help them to build future academic/employment resumes.

History 495 is currently taught every year. The department is also considering requiring a lower-level methods course for majors and minors.

Additional Funding

  1. Software for the instructor–Nota Bene 10 Scholar’s Work Station $ 279.20
  2. Software training for the instructor–1-year subscription to $ 375.00
  3. A portable “Pocket” LCD projector to be used in Sherman Hall 315, the history seminar room, where the class will meet. The room is not currently equipped with a projector and is too small for a standard ceiling-mounted projector. AAXA P4-X Pico Projector (or similar) $ 349.00


TOTAL $1003.20

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