Email to the History Department

Email to the History Department

I just fired off an email to the tech historian in my department….hoping to find an ally in my attempts to do some online work during this degree. Here’s the email:

Professor Hood,

I’m a 2nd year phd student in the history department (early modern women/family history) and I’ve recently been thinking very seriously about online pedagogy and the possibilities of incorporating online elements into my projects. I have a lot of ideas about this, some of which are available in preliminary form online right now. I’ve been working in a synchronous interactive text-based environment with graphical user interface attached…a graphical MOO (spin off of MUDs). It’s called Project Achieve, and it’s an educational MOO housed here at U of T. Right now I’m working on creating historical simulations in tableaux; I create environments with early modern art and added sound effects (some midi taffel music, some animal or ‘street’ sound effects, that kind of thing), and then I program ‘bots’ who react to triggers from the user to explain concepts or their point of view. For example, Luther will explain his position on the Eucharist, and St. Francis will preach to the birds. (This project is viewable at , push login (guests require no password) and type @go bingen to go to the first room.) Recently I’ve been thinking that there are more possibilities here than I previously imagined…I was imagining my dissertation (about the relationships between fathers and daughters in early modern France, a very narrative project) as a narrative, interactive series of tableaux, simulated to explore the various details of my project, with the primary sources linked behind the tableaux, and my own web log (blog) accounts of my search for the document, my interpretation, how it works with the secondary literature and how it fits into my proposed thesis. I’m just boggled by the possibilities of the technologies I’m encountering, but of course this is an absolutely outlandish bit of fantasy, and I think the department will look at me like my head is spinning around were I to mention it. I thought perhaps talking to you about it might be somewhat more encouraging. 🙂

Could I meet with you to discuss the possibilities of online technology in higher education? Thanks for reading along this far…


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