Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom: A Practical Introduction for Teachers, Lecturers, and Students

Chapter 7: Creating Digital Assignments

Our Sample Assignment Sheets and Rubrics

  1. Archive Review: Assignment Sheet with Matching Rubric
  2. Digital Life-Writing: Assignment Sheet with Matching Rubric
  3. Digital Mapping: Assignment Sheet with Matching Rubric
  4. Mediated Text: Assignment Sheet with Matching Rubric
  5. Style Lab Report: Assignment Sheet with Matching Rubric
  6. Digital Edition: Assignment Sheet with Matching Rubric

General Advice for Designing Assignments


Beyond the advice for structuring assignments, communicating your expectations to your students, and writing effective assignment sheets, all discussed in Chapter 7, and beyond the six sample sets of assignment sheets and rubrics in this Web Companion, you may still seek guidance for crafting your own personal approach to digital assignments. Consider beginning with Jesse Stommel’s combined blog post and slideshow presentation, 12 Steps for Creating a Digital Assignment or Hybrid Class. To make sure that you have a clear justification or conceptual framework for the DH assignments you bring in, refer to Brian Croxall’s presentation about assignment design as architecture to see a model for conceptualizing your assignment structures. As you begin assembling a set of assignments, activities, and assignments, consult this discussion of how much to assign from Rice’s Center for Teaching Excellence.


Sample Assignments by Genre


A well directed Google search will give you ample examples for how to adapt particular platforms for classroom use. We aim to give you a head-start by sharing some of our favorite assignments from other digital pedagogues.


Visual Culture and Images

Thinking visually is a great way to enrich your assignment design and move beyond the essay. Concept-mapping software can, for example, help students study for texts or allow you a new way to present information, but it can even provide a platform for students to create a proposal for a complex assignment, to brainstorm new theses, or to give a class presentation without using a slideshow format. Freemind is a popular choice, as it's free, not overly complex, and works on Mac, Windows, and Linux. MindNode is attractive and intuitive, so it is great if your students use Macs and you have a (small) budget for software licenses, while Tuft University's open-source VUE is free and can be downloaded for a Mac, Windows, or Linux machine. Text2MindMap is a free, fast, and fun way to learn how concept-mapping works. IdeaMache, a Chrome extension through which you can create digital collages, is also an interesting choice when asking students to combine visual and verbal data or to share the fruits of their research with the class or the public.

For platforms that will allow students to create digital timelines, try the simply named and simple-to-use Timeline, the elegantly designed Timetoast, or the popular TimeGliderWe prefer Sutori because it was designed specifically as a pedagogical platform. On Sutori, you can register as a teacher, organize your timelines by course, and access student-made timelines. This is why the assignment set is based on this particular software. Of course, you can select any program that's right for you; read here a helpful round-up of timeline makers to determine which will fulfill your needs. If none of these options looks right for you, you can also add a Timeline extension to your PowerPoint program.

For further inspiration, check out Suzanne Churchill’s “Surreal Scene,” her adaptation of StoryMapJS for Mina Loy’s paintings. Adeline Koh’s imaginative Know Thy Selfie assignment is a sure-fire hit with students. If you’re looking for an instructor’s account of using digital activities in the classroom, watch this video on digital mapping in the literature classroom by Annie Swafford. 


Blogs and Wikis

Check out Greg Myers’s resources for instructors using blogs and wikis, linked to his book, The Discourse of Blogs and Wikis. Diane Jakacki’s chapter, “Blogging,” for the MLACommons’s dynamic ebook, Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities, curates many sample uses for blogging and wikis in the classroom. To access research about the effectiveness of this pedagogical activity, read Alan Bilansky’s article for Pedagogy “Using Wikipedia to Teach Audience, Genre, and Collaboration.”


Annotation and Bibliography

Brian Croxall has created an innovative group bibliography assignment based on Zotero. For a less scholarly form of annotation, which your students might already know about, you could adapt the popular song- and literature-annotation site Genius. For annotating images, see Shannon Rice’s guide to creating assignments based on image annotation. If you are interested in working with Flickr, see this video or this explanation by an experienced Flickr user.

Archives and Editions

Stephen H. Gregg’s polemic, “Students and the Digital Edition,” passionately argues in favor of bringing students into the process of creating digital scholarly editions. For sample editions made by or with students, see Ryan Cordell’s “‘Q i-jtb the Raven’: Taking Dirty OCR Seriously” and Amanda Golden’s Digital Dorian Gray student editions. If you are more interested in archive-based assignments than in edition-based ones, check out Margaret Konkol’s article for Hybrid Pedagogy, “Public Archives, New Knowledge, and Moving Beyond the Digital Humanities/Digital Pedagogy Distinction.” Many such archive assignments us Omeka, so check out Omeka’s documentation here.

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