Practicing Oral History


Inspired by Digital Humanities models of working collaboratively on research projects uniting students and community members, Matt Price (History) and Frances Garrett (Study of Religion) taught two undergraduate courses in the fall of 2011 that engaged students in the practice of oral history using a range of new media technologies. The two courses were designed together and organized around the same set of assignments, although taught separately. Because the technically-oriented learning objectives for the courses were the same, the two instructors shared a course website and scheduled shared technical tutorials throughout the semester.

In both courses, students learned how to plan, record, edit and analyze an oral history conducted with a local community member, and prepare it for online presentation; they engaged in the hands-on practice of original research in history and religious studies; they gained practical skills in the collaborative use of various information technologies, including Zotero, Drupal, HTML, CSS and Javascript; and they learned and practiced skills in project planning and management, and in collaborative critical thinking, brainstorming, negotiation, delegation of tasks, and writing as part of a team. The final project of creating websites for their oral history projects required students to learn the basics of HTML, CSS, and a modest amount of Javascript. The learning curve was steep for all students, but they were excited about the oral history assignment and, with some hard work, mastered the technologies needed to complete their projects.

Read more about this teaching experiment at