Writing to Learn: Working for the DSL

Up until I started working for the Digital Scholarship Lab at the beginning of this year, I simply thought that it was the place to go in the basement of the library to check out laptops, cameras, and phone chargers. Because of my previous relationship with Elizabeth Gibes (she was one of the librarians who worked with us teachers for the First Year English program), I had some hints that there was more to the DSL but I wasn’t sure what. But that all changed at the beginning of this semester.

Late last year, I was hired for the DSL as the writer and editor for the new blog (this one you’re reading). I was nervous about what I would write about since I myself didn’t really know what the DSL was used for. But then I got to talk to the tutors who work for the DSL and faculty, and students who have used digital media in their classroom. Five months later, I’m only confused as to why more people do not take advantage of the great resources we have (equipment and staff).

Introducing digital media in the classroom has created some really creative work by students (check out our archive for some highlights). The professors I’ve interviewed have all said that using digital media was beneficial to the students, because they were able to learn how to think about different audiences and genres. As someone who was an English major as an undergraduate, has an M.A. in Literature, and is working on a Literature Ph.D., I was highly suspicious of anything replacing a well-researched paper. I learned by talking to faculty and students that a digital media assignment does not necessarily need to replace the paper, and that even if it does, the projects still require research and writing. In fact, I can see now how in some cases, like for Cara and Dolan, using digital media was the better way to show their research and argument.

Overall, working for the DSL has taught me a great deal about digital media, digital scholarship, and, surprising me, pedagogy. I’ve seen many other students come to use the Mac Lab 12 for access to Adobe Creative Suite, use the media room to edit videos, and consult with our awesome tutors for help creating their projects, whether is to learn to use iMovie or Illustrator. The work the Digital Scholarship Lab does may not be as well-known as it could be, but there’s so much to use there. I hope to see more faculty and students utilize the space and the knowledge of our tutors and staff team (particularly Elizabeth Gibes and Joe Humer).