Interview with Ed Slavishak of Susquehanna
Professor Ed Slavishak teaches topics in History and English at Susquehanna University. In particular, Professor Slavishak’s interests lie in U.S. History-- The Civil War and the American experience, the multiculturality of America, history methods and African-American history topics.
On his experiences with Yellowdig:
I found out about Yellowdig pretty late in the game. So right before both the courses began I found out about our campus buying into Yellowdig or turning on the Yellowdig feature in Blackboard. So in both cases, I adopted it probably a week before classes started. Because it was such a rushed job, I thought I would use it pretty conservatively.
So what I did in both classes, I used it as a supplement to class participation but it was by no means mandatory. I encouraged people to use it, but I specifically encouraged students to use it if they weren’t comfortable or able to participate in class orally or through other means.
So what it turned into for both classes was a fairly small number of people in the classes who used it in any frequency—but they were the people who, particularly, I would not have heard from otherwise. I think that they would have fallen between the cracks if they didn’t have Yellowdig to express their thoughts, find interesting things online, respond to things we did in class. And so in that way I was very happy with it. I was happy for it’s ability to serve as a pretty easy chat or message board that would allow them to do things they weren’t comfortable doing in class.
On how he will use Yellowdig in the future:
I do intend to use it again next year. And now that I’ve had time to incorporate it and have seen what it can do, I’m going to make it mandatory. I’m going to make it a graded portion of the class.
On interesting conversations in class:
In the History Methods course we teach about the ethics of doing research and the ethics of suppressing evidence, versus bringing evidence out into the light.
And one of the conversations that we had in class that was pretty fruitful was actually coming out of Yellowdig. A student gave a particular reference to someone who called himself a historian and there was a question of whether or not that person could call himself a historian because he wasn’t officially trained and so forth.
And so that got students thinking about what the ethics of historical research are, what does it takes to be a historian, do you need a specialist education? There was a very open and nice conversation. And in that case, it came from a Yellowdig idea.
On the changing landscape of higher education and what it means to be a professional:
I think everyone has an image in mind of what a historian is, but because that job is under an evolution-- it’s changing rapidly because the state of higher education is changing rapidly.
I think a platform like Yellowdig allows people to bring in digital examples of how expertise and the ability to talk to multiple topics about the past— how that is by no means something that has to be achieved by a traditional path of say college and then maybe a Ph.D. program.
So I don’t know if Yellowdig is essential to that, but in this case Yellowdig definitely was the device that allowed that kind of conversation to take place— and definitely in the History Methods course— training them to think of themselves as part of a career—it was definitely about the changing landscape of jobs and occupations.