Academic journal article The Western Journal of Black Studies

Will the Revolution Be Digitized? Using Digitized Resources in Undergraduate Africana Studies Courses

Academic journal article The Western Journal of Black Studies

Will the Revolution Be Digitized? Using Digitized Resources in Undergraduate Africana Studies Courses

Article excerpt

Introduction

This analysis reviews selected Internet resources for possible use as supplemental resources in undergraduate Black/Africana Studies (hereinafter referred to as Africana Studies) courses. Most existing courses rely heavily on traditional print scholarship supplemented by various audio and visual materials in analog formats. The title of this analysis is a takeoff on Gil Scott Heron's classic song, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," with the intention of implying that creative and focused use of digitized resources in collegiate instruction, linked to well-designed social change advocacy strategies, may in the long run help achieve the type of social transformation envisioned by activists of the 1960s.

Looking at the world through a narrower lens, there is no question that resources are available via the Internet that can, if used appropriately, provide new types of opportunities for students to access and en gage valuable information at no additional expense to instructors and students. While traditional print resources will continue to constitute the bedrock of Africana Studies instruction, there are several potential benefits that can be derived from expanding the repertoire of instructional resources and pedagogical approaches.

The learning styles of traditional-age college students today are generally more tactile and visually oriented than earlier generations. At the same time, Africana Studies courses disproportionately attract students from digitally-undeserved populations. As a consequence, using digitized resources in Africana Studies classes can enhance these students' comfort level with information technologies and contribute to bridging the so-called "digital divide." In addition, given the proliferation of digitized misinformation spread through e-mail and various websites exemplified by the myriad of "urban myths," use of digitized resources can help students develop critical electronic literacy skills for making informed judgments about the accuracy of digitized information. Developing these skills serves the long-term individual and collective long-term social survival and empowerment objectives of Africana Studies.

Consistent with the general empowerment objectives of Africana Studies, use of digitized resources in instruction should be designed to encourage students to think of themselves as potential knowledge producers, rather than function simply as passive information consumers. Moreover, instructors must ensure that neither the technology itself, nor digitized content, induce undesired shifts in overall philosophical orientation or instructional goals. The most functional efforts to introduce digitized resources into Africana Studies courses will be closely aligned with the historical mission and trajectory of the field and with the orientation of existing printed resources that have demonstrated instructional value.

The next section presents a brief overview of selected efforts to develop basic Africana Studies instructional resources since the late 1960s. The original curriculum design for majors in Africana Studies developed by the National Council for Black Studies (NCBS) is used in the third section as a template for evaluating the potential use of selected digitized resources. The relationships among Internet-based resources and various computer-based digitized resources are discussed in the concluding section. The importance of greater engagement by Africana Studies specialists in the development of additional digitized Africana Studies resources is also emphasized.

Instructional Resources in Africana Studies

The development of instructional materials to support undergraduate classroom instruction in Black/ Africana Studies has evolved through several distinct stages. When the contemporary Africana Studies movement gained momentum in the late 1960s and the early 1970s there were no field-specific introductory texts available to instructors. …

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