My personal business card says I’m a Digital Medievalist. It’s the best way to describe my education, my work experience, and my interests.
Until quite late in my education, I was an typical Medievalist, albeit one with a good grounding and teaching experience in English literature through the Romantic era. I looked forward to a fairly standard academic career teaching English literature and composition classes at a small liberal arts college or at a university with a strong humanities program. But halfway through my Ph.D. I began to transform into a digital medievalist.
Ph.D. in hand, I am still very much interested in early literature and conventional humanist scholarship, but I have earned most of my living in the digital realm since 1989, often working for commercial software publishers. I have used technology in my teaching and scholarship, and supported faculty using digital technology in their teaching and scholarship for about that long as well.
I’ve worked for software companies, including multimedia and ebook pioneers like The Voyager Company, Calliope Media, and Night Kitchen. I’ve also been responsible for content creation and support for undergraduate class Web sites for the entire Humanities division at UCLA. I was the primary trainer and tertiary support person for a heavily customized LMS system, and responsible for creating and developing over 600 undergraduate class Web sites a quarter.
Most recently, I’ve turned from technical editing and ghostwriting consumer computer books to writing books about Mac OS, and technology. My latest books are about doing stuff with an iPad or iPhone.
I started blogging about technology and instruction in January of 2002, while I was still actively engaged supporting users (faculty and students) using technology for teaching and learning. As much as I am personally fond of things geeky and digital, quite often I see technology in instruction being used simply because it’s there, rather than because using technology assists understanding, or because using technology enhances student learning. I also see a lot of silliness in terms of technology, instruction and scholarship, where a particular technology is forced upon students and faculty because some manager or administrative person thinks technology is cool, or that using technology will draw fame and fortune to his career, rather than because the technology is effective or appropriate. Frequently faculty who would like to use technology are bewildered by the jargon and by the unfortunate arrogance of the technical experts they must work with, who, for all their technical expertise are, not surprisingly, sometimes woefully ignorant about pedagogy, and have no interest or understanding of the humanities.
I’m still blogging about IT in the context of language, cultures, and the Humanities in an attempt to keep informed about the kinds of tools, approaches, and technologies that are available, to look at how others are using technology to teach, research, administer or create content, what open source alternatives are available, what works and what doesn’t, and share that with others who are interested in technology for teaching and scholarship, in a way that is understandable to the less technically inclined.