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by Bex Shorunke

How ‘coding the humanities’ will transform learning

The idea originates from the Netherlands, ‘Coding the Humanities’ is a project that was born in March 2013 and is set to revolutionise learning as we know it.

The program encourages humanities students to code their own tools for research, creating a digital platform in which they can share what they are learning with fellow students and teachers alike. With Coding the Humanities traditional forms of learning are re-vamped.

An online platform is created so everyone’s work is stored and displayed for everyone to view. Hereby, replacing the normal classroom dynamic of one teacher outnumbered by the many students they lecture to. Instead Coding the Humanities levels out the playing field: teachers and students are able to constantly challenge each other’s work so nobody is exempt from critique, as they organise, track and share their learning efforts.

Several things can be achieved on this platform. Firstly individuals can gather feedback specific on their own work and the work of their peers, so as to compare and contrast. Secondly they can observe what others are currently working on in their class, parallel classes, or previously in classes of the years beforehand. Lastly, you are able to both create and adapt these resources to a particular topic, so as to fashion your own learning trajectory.

In such an environment, students are able to delve deeper into subjects by questioning and comparing their knowledge with their teachers. Teachers can better fulfil their students’ needs, by tracking their learning patterns and helping them in a way that better suits the individual and even learn a thing or two in the process.

It’s a means of accessing a larger pool of knowledge, improving oneself and what’s more it is a sustainable model too. Whilst of course there are moments when this isn’t the case, generally speaking most Humanity teachers and students resort to more physical tools such as books, pens and paper, whilst scientists turn to more digitalised ways of learning. However, the digital platform at the heart of the Coding the Humanities program, serves to bridge this gap between science and the humanities, to promote interdisciplinary learning. This in turn can change the way we think about people studying the Humanities and Science as a whole. Rather than both disciplines being regarded as stark opposites, we should change our perspective to think of them as being more fluid and able to overlap.

So far the project has had a successful pilot run. A set of BA, MA and staff courses have been set up to further develop and test Coding the Humanities, as well as efforts to teach the program to potential new students. Although the project is still only available in the Netherlands, it’s only a matter of time before it gains sufficient support to be launched in the UK. With an on-going demand in both the public and private sector for individuals who are familiar with coding perhaps this is indeed the future?

Images courtesy of Coding the