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NSU English professor named to Education Advisory Committee

(Tahlequah, Okla.)-- For Northeastern State University associate professor of English, Dr. Melissa Strong, continual and educational growth has always been valuable. Living her life both professionally and personally by this idea, Strong also tries to impart this mindset to her students.

Recently, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) formed the Education Advisory Committee (EAC) with the goal of better informing schools across the nation of the millions of digital resources available to them. Out of a pool of more than 300 candidates, Strong was selected to serve as a committee member.

Following the suggestion of a friend and considering her interest in digital humanities initiative, Strong saw this as the perfect opportunity to share her commitment to best practices in teaching with technology.

The DPLA is an organization that currently offers free digital access to millions of items from America’s libraries, museums and archives containing the full breadth of human expression with the goal of providing instantaneous information at the click of a mouse.

“This project gives me the chance to deepen my knowledge of digital humanities, develop new ways to incorporate materials from digital archives into my teaching and contribute to an exciting project with outstanding educators who share my passion for using archival materials to bring the past to life,” Strong said.

Although the committee will call for varied skill sets and commitments, Strong’s primary duties will include building and reviewing curated collections of primary sources and companion classroom guides with discussions question and activities for students and teachers. Currently, she is the only professor of English on the committee.

Already, Strong has created a set of sources and educational content for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” a controversial slavery-themed novel written in 1852.

Collaboration has also begun between Strong and another committee member on the collection of materials for “The Things They Carried,” a critically acclaimed literary exploration of the experience of soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Other committee members have recently completed educational content and source sets on topics such as the abolition movement, American Indian boarding schools, the Scopes trial, the Negro Baseball League, the impact of television on news media and “The Great Gatsby.”

Through her appointment to the EAC, Strong hopes to continue to develop nationally recognized techniques for teaching effectively in the 21st century classroom.

“The DPLA and other digital archives and collections bring the world to classrooms around the nation and at NSU. They promote engagement with primary texts, offer opportunities to participate in research and make it possible to examine materials housed in an archive across the country without leaving Tahlequah, let alone getting on a plane, traveling to another state, obtaining permission for research privileges and so on,” Strong said.

Several of Strong’s classes are already utilizing the offerings of the DPLA, including her American Literature 1865 to the Present course. Research projects are one of the course’s main assignments that will be completed using the DPLA portal, which includes a timeline feature that allows users to search the archives by decade to find materials in a range of formats, including text, images, moving images, objects and sound recordings.

“We hope to impart to both students and educators that digital humanities can be understood as including use of contemporary research methods, study of new media and awareness of the ways technology reshapes both scholarly research and the classroom,” Strong said.

For more information, please contact Strong at 918-444-3613 or strong01@nsuok.edu.

Published: 9/28/2015 2:01:47 PM

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