The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has played a crucial role in providing grants and awards to individuals and groups whose ideas are currently shaping the field of humanities in the United States and abroad. Since 1965, NEH has grown to encompass several key areas of the humanities, including how the internet can be optimally used in the education and study of humanities. Below are several NEH-sponsored apps and projects that even the least web-oriented educators can use to augment their own methods and tools for teaching humanities to their students.
Five of the Greatest NEH-Sponsored Apps and Projects of 2012
- Digital Public Library of America (DPLA): In 2012, the NEH awarded $1 million to the furthering of this remarkable project, which is currently working to digitize and provide free access to the content and archives of the nation’s public libraries. This project is a boon for teachers and students alike who stand to benefit from direct access to books and research materials throughout the United States right from their home or classroom computer. While the DPLA still has some ways to go in digitizing the content of all libraries in the nation, this recent grant from the NEH ensures that this project could seriously become the Library of Alexandria of our age.
- The Steinbeck Institute: For several years now, the NEH has provided grants for teachers and scholars who are looking to further the study and appreciation of author John Steinbeck and his many canonical works of literature. The site hosts several resources and lesson plans created by NEH Steinbeck scholars that can help teachers optimally educate their students on the works of Monterey, California’s most beloved author. This year, the NEH has provided yet another grant to the institute for teachers and scholars who wish to attend a several week seminar during the summer of 2013 for deepening their knowledge of Steinbeck and his classic literary corpus.
- Metadata Games: Prof. Mary Flanagan at Dartmouth College has been doing excellent work over the years in synthesizing online game play with learning about the humanities. This year, the NEH awarded over $300,000 to aid in the expansion of the project, which has currently completed two games to help students learn historical and archival information while having fun at the same time. This most recent grant will help Prof. Flanagan and Dartmouth University to expand the archival content for Metadata Games over the next several months.
- MapScholar: This project, which provides dynamic online visualizations of historic cartography, should be particularly exciting for scholars of the humanities who are intrigued by how our concepts of geographic space and boundaries have fluctuated over time. The NEH has granted the University of Virginia nearly $300,000 to continue work on this outstanding project, which already hosts several maps for teachers and students to view. While the project is mostly aimed towards scholars, the site explains that the project has “a natural extension as an advanced presentation tool as well as for classroom instruction at the K-12 and college level.”
- WordSeer: Developed by humanities scholars at U.C. Berkeley, WordSeer has been awarded an NEH grant in 2012 for its goal to provide an innovative online resource for teachers and students of literature. The project provides tools for finding analytical relationships between words and grammar in digital literary texts and offers great visual aids that range from word trees and heat maps. The project is currently in the process of digitizing three text collections, from the works of William Shakespeare to American slave narratives, and should be available to the general public by early 2013.
The National Endowment for the Humanities is a critical component for furthering the study and teaching of humanities in the 21st century. The generous grants given to individuals and institutions who strive to digitize the world’s books and printed resources ensure that students from every part of the world have access to the educational materials they need. Teachers will especially benefit from these projects, which promise to expand their capabilities for educating students in ways that are interactive, interesting and fun!