Expanding the Humanities Beyond the Classroom

happy computer crowd

The Digital Humanities provides new and extended scope to the composition of scholarship in the humanities with incorporating electronic technologies to preserve, document, further develop disciplinary methodologies, and overall challenge traditional means of studies.

Digital Humanities extends access to learning and the liberal arts to anyone with an internet connection.

The Data narratives and structural histories: Melville, Maury, and American whaling page illustrates the use of online technology’s ability to widen access to scholarship, through online media, such as videos, that not only provide interpretations, but different methods of academic work other than the typical academic paper. Digital Humanities, illustrated in the Data narratives and structural histories: Melville, Maury, and American whaling, supports the idea that the humanities and academia share a goal to provide personal growth and improvement. The best way to reach these aims in a digital age is through online media. The Digital Humanities offers growth and improvement to those that don’t have the access to the humanities through a university or college. The Digital Humanities requires a computer, an internet connection, and an interest to learn.

The access to learning and exchanging information through electronic, digital, and online technologies offers fresh thinking that advances beyond stagnant learning and teaching methods. One of the biggest online means of information exchange is YouTube.  The online site gives people the platform to  share their opinions, music, and projects. YouTube provides an avenue to promote education and expand the methods of teaching.

Crash course logo

The YouTube channel CrashCourse is an educational formatted video series that touch on areas of science, history, and literature. In the videos, either John Green or, his brother, Hank Green discuss, in an animated manner, topics like the importance of literature, the Roaring Twenties, and various scientific workings.

In a media soaked culture, attention spans are shrinking, and it becomes necessary to be able be advance ideas quickly. The CrashCourse videos condense lesson to roughly 10 to 14 minute videos. John or Hank Green achieve exchanging large amounts of information in short videos by rapid speaking. The rapid speech is an direct reaction to brevity in the digital age. It is necessary to express as much information as possible in as little time as possible. The rapid fire pace of the videos make the videos initially hard to internalize, but the viewer has the ability to rewind the video as much as the viewer wants.

Not only is it important to discuss ideas concisely, but to be creative and engaging. The video continues to hold the viewer’s interest through cartoon imaginary. The videos splice entertainment and eduction with cartoon animation. Cartoon characters are used to visually explain or highlight aspects of the video. The visual stimulus works to further secure the viewer’s attention. A new stimulus is introduced to the viewer, but a cartoon visual that is recognizable and palatable to a teen age demographic, but the intellectual endeavor of the video make the videos attention grabbing just as well.

Examining the CrashCourse video The Roaring 20’s: Crash Course US History #32 John Green discusses the 1920s through verbal and visual means. John Greens begins the videos with highlighting the topics of discuss such as jazz, the automobile, new methods of courtship, consumer culture to mention a few. The introduction of the topics are as quickly raised as they are followed with visuals to punctuate the topic, and process continues throughout video.  He moves throughout out the video quickly and easily to different topics with brevity and humor. The decade involved an increased public access to automobile that changed courtship. John Green jokes that automobile were nicknamed “skoodilypooping chariots” before stating they were actually nicknamed “brothels on wheels.” The combination of humor with learning makes the video fun and engaging, removing notions that learning has to be dull or dry and disconnecting. The video continues to provide a layer learning experience through cartoon animation to enhance the audio. Cartoon animation gives a visual underscore to the unequal spread of prosperity of the decade that followed the expansion of industry while simultaneously making the videos palatable to young viewers, but not alienating anyone interested in  serious historical learning. Overall the video captures the challenges the Digital Humanities proposes to tradition academies: how scholarship is presented and document, methods of engaging the audience, and how learning is made accessible to people.

CrashCourse presents a more enjoyable learning experience than sitting in front of a textbook and reading academic speak for hours about the implications of buying goods and services on credit for the U.S. economy. The videos mix the lessons of the classroom with the visual stimulus of smart and funny narration and illustration.

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