Blog Posts Reflection

Reflection: Molly Hamm-Rodríguez

PhD candidate in Equity, Bilinguialism and Biliteracy Molly Hamm-Rodríguez (School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder) discusses how the Caribbean Digital Humanities Institute has helped her think about how to integrate digital tools and Caribbean intellectual thought throughout her teaching, research, and professional development work with schools and educators.

My initial application to CDHI was motivated by a desire to integrate digital tools into a collaborative storytelling project with Central Florida high school teachers and Puerto Rican students who had been displaced by Hurricane María. As a graduate student, I have found that culturally and linguistically responsive teaching for bilingual students is often promoted at a level of abstraction that does not support educators in deeply engaging with the transnational intellectual traditions, social movements, and texts that could provide a more critical and compelling learning experience. For this reason, I was excited to learn about the work of dLOC in producing and sharing teaching guides and K-12 lesson plans as well as delivering teacher training to ensure that Caribbean studies would become a more prominent part of classrooms. These materials have inspired the work that I have been planning as a result of my participation in CDHI.

I will use the CDHI experience to begin developing a university-level syllabus that engages with the Caribbean to investigate key issues of language, culture, and identity in the tradition of linguistic anthropology. The course would include the exploration and application of select digital tools, such as StoryMap JS, learned through CDHI. In addition, I plan to develop an outline for a K-12 teacher professional development workshop that would center the needs of emergent bilingual students from the Caribbean. This workshop would enable teachers focusing on language and literacy development to ground their lesson planning and instruction in historically responsive content that centers a range of socio-cultural and linguistic identities connected to the Caribbean.

During the in-person institute, I was inspired by the broad range of digital humanities work (teaching, research, and service) shared by other scholars. Seeing concrete examples of digital tools in action—applied across a variety of contexts—made it more feasible for me to consider implementing the tools in my own teaching and research. During the institute, I appreciated the opportunity to think expansively about digital tools, while also learning technical details so that I walked away with both new ideas and technological skills. I have found myself paying more attention to projects that engage these digital tools in creative ways, and I am especially interested in seeking out (and creating!) examples from my fields of education, anthropology, and linguistics.

Of course, when I participated in CDHI I could not have anticipated how the covid-19 pandemic would bring me face-to-face with an exponential increase in the need to use digital tools in my teaching and research. Not only am I teaching two courses per semester online, but I am also supporting K-12 teachers who are desperate for digital resources to facilitate a positive learning experience for students of all ages and levels of technology literacy. Indeed, my own dissertation research may need to incorporate digital ethnographic methods due to travel restrictions that have significantly delayed my work in the Dominican Republic. I am grateful for the network of support in CDHI participants and facilitators, and know that I have a place to turn to help me think creatively about the role of digital tools in times of great uncertainty and ongoing precarity.