Tools for Teaching (& Research)

More than a shiny new tool

I was invited to give a short presentation to a number of new graduate students today and because I frequently talk about the need to pair learning objectives with technology, I thought I’d share the slides here. I edited the presentation to minimize the local specificity – focusing, instead, on the central idea that using technology in the classroom should not be tool based. Instead of picking a tool, consider a methodology and think through what students will gain by using new technology.

Consider: asking students to use new digital tools invites them to engage directly with primary resources, to conduct the practice of research or curation, and to imagine writing for multiple audiences. (Podcasts, in particular, become scholarly products that students can share with friends, family, and home communities!) But, more, asking students to create with digital content forces them to think critically about where digital content comes from and how it is packaged. They likely interact with digital content every day and may not ever apply the same critical lens they bring to a book or an article. If you make digital content scholarly material and ask them to manipulate it or cite it, they may start to think differently.

A short anecdote: students in my Holocaust in the Digital Age class were building a website about Nazi Propaganda. They found a trove of visual materials on Pinterest, but could not find the origin of those materials and could not create citations for them. Because of this limitation, they could not use these images in their class project. They were frustrated, but started to question the nature of Pinterest and recognize the need for citations – even online.

Slides from the presentation below. Thinking about digital pedagogy continues.

Tools for Teaching_UCSC 2017

Why use Digital Tools in the Jewish Studies Classroom

Teaching with Digital Tools

Thanks to the Association for Jewish Studies for inviting Nathaniel Deutsch and I to share our experience teaching Jewish Studies with digital tools. It was an opportunity to reflect on all we’ve done in building a Digital Jewish Studies initiative and on the ways digital engagement can have particular meaning for Jewish history. The webinar also pushed me to organize some thoughts and best practices about how to approach developing new assignments and syllabi that feature digital tools.


The webinar was meant to explore the possibilities of using digital tools in the Jewish Studies classroom. We introduce the idea of a Digital Jewish Studies and offer practical advice to using digital tools to enhance learning objectives. Of particular interest is our focus on  common pitfalls for integrating new tools into your syllabi.

I’m happy to share the slides here.

Digital Tools in the Classroom