Publication: “Blogging the Field School: Teaching Digital Public Archaeology” in Internet Archaeology

Written by: Terry Brock

Primary Source: Dirt

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Back in 2010, I had an opportunity to present a paper in Colleen Morgan’s 2011 Blogging Archaeology Session at the SAAs. The session was wonderful, and I had a wonderful time meeting Twitter colleagues in real life, and discussing the future of blogging, social media, and archaeology. I co-authored two papers in that session. The one I was primary author on (co-authored with Lynne Goldstein) focused on a blogging project I directed as part of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program’s 2010 field school. Today, that paper, along with other contributions from that session and others related to blogging in archaeology, have been published in Internet Archaeology. The collection is an important one, done in an experimental way with open comments (ours were provided by Whitney Battle-Baptiste!). And, of course, you can follow all the back chatter about the issue at #CritBlogArch.

Our paper chronicled an effort to teach students about public archaeology through the use of a public blog during field school. Students were required to compose blog posts throughout the field school. The details of the project are in the paper, but we considered it a success as it related to our learning objectives. Students learned about the value of public archaeology, they learned to foster digital communication and writing skills, and they started to learn about the potential power of the digital space as a place to advocate for archaeology. Writing and teaching others about archaeology also reenforced the content of the course, requiring students to think about the content on different levels. It was also incredibly valuable as an assessment tool: reading the blogs before they were published gave us a chance to catch misunderstandings about archaeological concepts before they hit the internet, but even more importantly allowed us to correct these misunderstandings.

This summer, I am expanding on this project at Montpelier. Instead of blogging, we are using Instagram, giving each student a day with our department account (follow us @Montpelier_Arch). The objectives are the same: to provide students a chance to learn about digital public archaeology, while also working with staff to gain new knowledge by creating online content about their course content. So far, the content has been wonderful, and the students are engaged in the process. It has certainly provided a new perspective on the field school, and produced wonderful content for the public to enjoy.

Anyway, please take a moment to head over to Internet Archaeology and give our paper a gander, while also checking out the other papers in the issue (Number 39). The issue is full of all your favorite online archaeology superstars.

Blogging the Field School: Teaching Digital Public Archaeology in Internet

Cite this as: Brock, T, P. and Goldstein, L. (2015). Blogging the Field School: Teaching Digital Public Archaeology, Internet Archaeology 39. http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.39.8

Summary

Over the past few decades, digital and public archaeology have grown in importance in archaeology. With the advent of social media, the importance of using digital tools for public engagement has increased. However, the basic training received by archaeology students has not provided adequate instruction in the use of these tools. The archaeological field school, the traditional means of training archaeology students, provides a perfect opportunity to begin to instruct students in this area. At Michigan State University, the Campus Archaeology Program developed a public blog written by field school students, and used this platform as a successful tool for teaching students about archaeological methods, public archaeology, and the use of digital tools for public engagement.The project also became an excellent way of assessing how well students understood and incorporated basic archaeological concepts.