Webinars: A New Frontier in Archaeological Training

The SHA’s Academic and Professional Training Committee (APTC), working with the Conference Committee, offers a range of training and professional development opportunities at the annual conference. We have workshops, roundtables, and fora covering many topics, most developed in response to member interest and needs. To augment these, the APTC plans to try year-round training (not during the conference). You have the opportunity to be part of this on July 17.

This past winter, members of the APTC started kicking around the idea of putting together a set of webinars to offer training and instructional opportunities for the SHA during the year between the conferences. These would supplement the annual conference workshops, which will remain unchanged.

Image courtesy of David Roethler

Webinars (a portmanteau of “web” and “seminars”) are on-line sessions where attendees can interact (audio at least, also video if people have cameras in their computers) and, depending on the software involved, view the moderator’s desktop together. Webinars are increasingly common in business and other fields, and they allow  people scattered across the globe to meet to discuss business, undergo training, or just catch up, all at minimal cost.

The APTC would like to see members of the SHA interested in hosting or attending such web-based training sessions step forward with ideas for webinars. These could range from technical material like database management, curation techniques, or remote sensing applications to theoretical, topical, or regional topics. Professional development topics such as job hunting or transforming your dissertation into a book (thanks, Myriam Arcangeli [@Terrailles]) would also work. The field is very wide open.

Some Things to Consider

One of the benefits of this medium is the low cost. In its initial stages, we would run the webinars through systems such as Google Hangout (with up to 10 seats) or Blackboard Collaborate (for more). With no room to rent, no travel to subsidize, and only the host’s fees (if there are any) to defray, we envision these to be among the most cost-effective development tools available.

There are, of course, a few obstacles. Depending on your preferred method of content delivery (audio only, audio and video, chat), you place different data and computing demands on participants. If an attendee is on a dial-up connection, they may not be able to stream video. Also, some of the webinar delivery systems require downloaded content that, while not usually excessively resource-hungry, may require some lead time for users to get approved and installed (I’m looking at you, Department of Defense archaeologists).

Webinars and the Student Member

As webinars let people log in from wherever they can get internet coverage, they do not require the travel funding that can be a big impediment to attendance. This is particularly true for college students. We are particularly interested to get feedback from students about what kinds of webinars they would be interested in attending.

The scheduling flexibilities of webinars will allow us to focus on applying for graduate schools, preparing for conferences, and other topics that would be more useful earlier in the year than the conference allows. The APTC will be working with the Student Subcommittee of the APTC to develop student-oriented opportunities.

Getting the Ball Rolling

If you have an idea about a topic, you can e-mail me at cdrexler@uark.edu, tweet me (@cgdrexler), or stick an idea in the comments section.

If you’d like to host a webinar at some point in the future, send me a note and I’ll get you an invite to our first webinar on July 17, from 2-3 pm (Eastern). This inaugural webinar will focus on… webinars! We’ll focus on topic ideas, get some background on content development, and discuss the use of the technology. Drop me a line if you want to participate!

Acknowledgements

Amber Graft-Weiss and Terry Brock contributed to a lively Twitter discussion on this topic that helped develop and refine where we would like the webinars to focus. Shelley Keith, of Southern Arkansas University, advised on materials related to webinar content development.

Online abstract submission is open for 2014 conference!

The call for papers for the 2014 conference is officially open! The submission of abstracts for session proposals and individual presentations, as described in the call for papers, can be done online on the web site starting NOW!

As you have been doing for 46 years, SHA members will be proposing many and varied sessions. In order to stimulate your reflection on the conference theme, “Questions that Count: a critical evaluation of historical archaeology in the 21st century”, the Program Committee has several suggestions for themes that could be of particular interest to you and your network of colleagues. Are you interested in organizing a workshop on one of the following themes for the 47th Conference on historical and underwater archaeology?

  • The Ethics of Archaeological Practice
  • Historical Archaeology and the Media
  • Commercial and Governmental Archaeology: New laws, new practices?
  • Archaeology and UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • New Research in Material culture studies: Ceramics
  • Historical Archaeology as Anthropology; globalization and environmental archaeology
  • The Historical archaeology of Central America and the Caribbean
  • Who owns the past: sacred sites, battlefield archaeology, sites of pain, difficult heritage

These subjects – and many more—have been discussed on the SHA Facebook page. More will follow so come and “Like” the page with no further delay: https://www.facebook.com/SocietyforHistoricalArchaeology!

If you are interested in organizing one of these sessions, the new online submission interface will permit you to offer your services as a session chair. It will also permit individual presenters to suggest papers for sessions that have not been closed by their organizers. A series of general subjects is proposed to help the Program Committee group contributed papers into new sessions, to avoid scheduling conflicts between similarly-themed sessions and to structure poster presentations. Themes identified so far include the following. Can you see others?

  • Diaspora Archaeology
  • Environmental and Landscape Archaeology
  • First Nations Archaeology
  • Information Technologies
  • Legislation and Archaeological Practice
  • Material Culture Studies
  • Identity
  • Methodology
  • Military Archaeology
  • Regional Studies
  • Theory
  • Underwater and Maritime Archaeologies
  • Urban Archaeology
  • Other

We hope this new process and a simplified interface will make the submission process easier for you and that it will result in a strong and interesting conference for all. Contact the Conference Committee through our web site at www.sha2014.com should you have any questions or problems with the submission process.

Don’t forget to download the conference poster while you are writing your abstract: http://www.sha2014.com/index_e.html!

Follow us and the Twitter to learn more about the conference, and share your session ideas using the hashtag #SHA2014 or on our Facebook Page.

SHA Québec 2014: Preliminary Call for Papers

The preliminary call for papers is now available for the 47th Annual Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, to be held in Québec City, Canada, from January 8–12, 2014. The Call for Papers will open on May 1, 2013.

The organizing committee proposes the theme “Questions that count, a critical evaluation of historical archaeology in the 21st century” that will permit the archaeological community to take the measure of its development over the past quarter century, all while spanning the transition into the new millennium. Indeed, this question was last broached in Savannah, Georgia in 1987.

The SHA first asked eminent archaeologists to identify questions that count at the plenary session of the 20th Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology. We now pose this question to the broader archaeological community. The diverse sectors of the SHA and ACUA communities are invited to assess their progress, orientations and priorities. The responses may be very different from one sector to another, surprising some or confounding others. More importantly, it is crucial to allow each segment of our community to express its own views on the current and future situation of the discipline.

Historical archaeology has evolved both globally and locally. There has been a diverse integration of new technologies, forms of media, analytical methods as well as participants. Community-based programs, public and descendant archaeology, and the experience of archaeological practice have all evolved over the last quarter century. To use antiquated parlance, dirt archaeologists are faced with a dizzying array of possibilities while still challenged with maintaining quality practice in an age of an explosion of sources and media. Other archaeologists are focused almost exclusively on analytical methods. How can we encourage best practices for all amidst a new array of questions which all seem to count?

Québec City is a place to rejoice in the old and explore the new. One of the oldest cities in North America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also a hub for exploring new media and technology. Cutting-edge analytical methods available in local laboratories have permitted experimentation in local archaeology, and new technologies have been incorporated into the public presentation of some of our most significant sites. The city is also at the boundary of land and sea, wedged between Cap-aux-Diamants and the majestic St. Lawrence River, where an immigrant European population met with First Nations peoples during the 16th century. We propose themes that explore these boundaries while posing questions that count or that continue to count, and invite archaeologists from all communities to present new research in their archaeological practices.

The plenary session will start with distinguished scholars questioning the practice of urban archaeology and using Québec City as a case study: should we do archaeology in the city or archaeology of the city? Questions that count will echo for the length of the conference with thematic sessions such as:

• Large-scale underwater projects
• The ethics of archaeological practice
• Identity and memory in archaeology
• Revisiting facts and ideas of contact
• Recent advances in scientific analyses
• Historical archaeology as anthropology
• Community archaeology for the 21st century
• Globalization and environmental archaeology
• Historical archaeology and museum collections
• Archaeology and UNESCO World Heritage Sites
• Archaeology and text; archaeology and the media
• Global archaeology in the circumpolar north, 1250-1950
• Commercial and governmental archaeology: new laws, new practices
• Coastal and port cities: maritime archaeology on land and underwater
• Historical/Post Medieval archaeology and the roots of the anthropocene

A list of sessions with short descriptions will be posted on the SHA 2014 website (sha2014.com/) and scholars are invited to submit contributed papers and propose other symposia. It will also be possible to exchange ideas during workshops and roundtable luncheons.

Please follow us on Facebook and on Twitter (using the hashtag #SHA2014) for updates about the conference throughout the year!