computer codingAt the recent Society for American Archaeology annual meeting held in Vancouver, a constant refrain across multiple sessions was, ‘how do we teach digital literacy in archaeology?’ Digital literacy has long been more complicated than simply assessing websites for veracity or trustworthiness (and even that is still something that many struggle with). Nowadays, it involves amongst other things, ethics, data publishing, extracting complex datasets via calls to APIs, simulation, gaming, and statistical programming.

Shawn Graham has been wrestling with these problems for quite some time, and his latest project, which has been fully funded by eCampusOntario for two years, tackles them head-on: he and his collaborators Neha Gupta (Memorial), Michael Carter (Ryerson) and Beth Compton (Western Ontario) are building a virtual computer explicitly for teaching digital archaeology methods.

The original proposal is available online on the Electric Archeology website.

In a video demonstration, Graham shows how this ‘open textbook environment’ is accessed and interacted with through the browser. All of the materials will be openly available, able to be remixed or repurposed as necessary.

The collaborative process for writing the textbook portions is demonstrated in another video.

And other writing, excerpts, and discussion may be found at:

“Never promise to do the possible. Anyone could do the possible. You should promise to do the impossible, because sometimes the impossible was possible, if you could find the right way, and at least you could often extend the limits of the possible. And if you failed, well, it had been impossible.” 
 Terry Pratchett, Going Postal