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A look back on the semester

I was not sure what to expect when I signed up for this class, no idea what I was getting myself into-all I knew was this would be a very different seminar. I am happy to say I learned alot about making history digital and about Fredericksburg through all of the other projects in class.

1. Top three things I liked about the class structure:  

a. As difficult as it was to set-up deadlines for ourselves I really enjoyed the contracts and creating our own timelines for the projects. It was easier to show our personal strengths and weaknesses than with a regular class where we would be graded based on the professor’s criteria.

b. I enjoyed all of the time for in-class meetings, we did not have to listen to a lecture and then scramble to figure out when everyone was available to do work, we were able to communicate and be productive in class.  I feel it made the work that goes into a group project better.

c. Although I dreaded presentations every week starting week 6, I found by the time we went to the symposium it was not hard at all to discuss a product I was very proud of. While the Images group did a few presentations on the side, I felt confident in presenting what we had created but I do think the class could count as a speaking intensive course.

2. Top three things I would change:

a. Being called out as the trouble-maker group 😉 haha kidding, that is one statement I am very proud of. I would not have all of the information sessions from dtlt at the beginning of the semester, I would spread them out.

b. Along with spreading out the sessions, I would take a poll to see which resources each group wanted to use so sessions could be dedicated specifically to omeka for example. I know the three groups that used omeka had quite a few questions, so if we had more in class time on that.

c. I would not change anything else!!

3. Project topics:

a. One on Aug. Wash -which that could be the name of the school being built by Quantico…I am not sure of an actual topic but something not as text-based. I feel that digital history has changed the way I learn about it, and we should have more charts, pictures, videos, oral history, maps, timelines, online to illustrate how history has changed -if I wanted to read text I would grab the book, but it is nice to have a good text reference online for research/databases. (especially the ones created in our class)

b. A topic I might try would be the evolution of Mary Washington, while the Images group showed students over the years and the expansion, people do not really understand all of the traditions the school has and some people still think it is an all female college.

4. Advice for future students:

Do not go into the class with any expectations, “expect the unexpected” and let some of the sources you find lead you down paths that may stray from your contract.

Some of the most interesting stories and information we found were from one on one discussions with alumni reflecting on their years at Mary Washington, and while we did not know we would attend alumni events or know we would be in their newsletter when we wrote our contract it turned out to be more rewarding to go down those paths than just research in a yearbook. Thank you for a great semester! 🙂

Final blog-reflecting on the semester

“What really matters is what you do with what you have.”[1] I believe this quote sufficiently sums up how the Images group approached our project for the semester. In January we not only did not know one another but also had no idea what was in store for us throughout the semester. I sat in amazement and thought about how difficult group projects were when simply presenting a poster but to present history through a digital process in a group setting was an uneasy concept to grasp. The semester long project appeared daunting but a new challenge to take on through the many due dates and goals required of the images group. 

Fate seemed to bring the images group together and each one of us wanted to use any and all tools possible for the project and quickly put to use the tools taught in class by the DTLT staff. Within the first two weeks the group had set-up a note taking document that discussed preliminary goals for the images website. We knew of the looming date for the contract that would guide the project throughout the semester but also took on another challenge through the invitation to attend the Alumni Board meeting on February 20th. A primary goal, once we wrapped our heads around an archive that contained over one thousand images, was to create a much more efficient way to organize and collect the images and information. We wanted them to be ordered in a way that would gain alumni attention and ideally have it organized so the alumni could contribute information and be able to reminisce about their days at Mary Washington. Each group member contributed ideas, including how to organize the site, who to contact, and what resources we would need to use, and laid a contract out that set a tedious schedule for us, with needing to have a mock-up version of our site ready by February 20th.

The website was up and running by the meeting and we received influential feedback and an invitation to have our website advertised in the March and April Alumni E-newsletter. After the meeting the group worked diligently throughout the rest of February and spring break uploading images into their respective collections to have the images ready for launch on March 15th. With the launch on the 15th the group still had plenty of work to do and many edits to make the site more user friendly. The exhibits were added and one of the maps was put onto the site to make our site interactive with alumni. We had a snag in the contract when the map group from Dr. Hanna’s class proved to be less efficient than we hoped for, but we focused on the research, marketing, and editing of the website. The group worked to gain attention and feedback on the website through passing out business cards, e-mailing professors, and staying in contact with the Alumni directors. The site underwent several edits with the addition of more simple pages, information from yearbook research, the installation of google analytics, and gained more attention after the April Alumni letter was sent out.

All in all, I believe the Images group achieved every goal we had, in the contract, in most cases ahead of schedule. Each member contributed to the site and used their personal strengths in certain areas to further the site. The major setback we faced was the lack of a map from the map group but we finally did receive one that does serve the purpose we hoped for. A second setback could be that we were unable to identify every image we chose off the archive but as the quote I chose says, we worked with what we had. The group did put together a how-to guide for the site on the backend for whoever may take over the site but as it appears right now, we want to remain the main users of the site and continue to receive e-mails offering information and contributions. It was a pleasure to work with the other three members of the images group and I hope to one day look back at the site and see my own Mary Washington Images Throughout the Years.


[1]Shirley Lord. “Motivational and Inspirational Corner” Power Performance. 2002-2003 http://www.motivational-inspirational-corner.com/getquote.html?categoryid=62 [accessed April 20, 2010].

Lights, Camera, Action

Wow sums up how I feel right now after presenting our website on camera…how weird is it to think 20 years from now we could come back and search for our undergraduate selves and view on camera what we found to be one of the biggest accomplishments of our academic career (at least in my opinion).  Even though the audience consisted of very few people it was still neat and a great practice for the symposium in just over a week eek!

Watching the Mary Washington group I realized how far we have all come even from our first presentation in class and to where we are today, seeing that our sites have grown to more than we imagined. While a few more kinks should be worked out, cough a second map cough, with the site I think the group has done really well in accomplishing what we wanted to, creating an interactive, organized site that alumni can use to remember their time at Mary Washington. Every experience is different and after doing research for this project I learned each experience is special and this could be me in 30 years looking at pictures of Mary Washington today and remembering what I saw on Devil-Goat Day or  benching on a nice day! And I can now say I have had my 15 minutes of fame 😉

digital history and web 2.0

After reading and looking over a few of the articles in http://www.historians.org/Perspectives/issues/2007/0705/index.cfm I discovered that many of the writers were professors exploring how technology can advance history in and outside of the classroom. I found the article, The Digital History Reader: Teaching Resources for United States and European Historyby E. Thomas Ewing and Robert P. Stephens to be interesting in how to teach history not only to undergraduate students but also those in high school. I agreed with the different modules in combining written evidence with visuals such as photographs and maps and also the use of audios to hear how people experienced events throughout history. The quotes from students at Virginia Tech proved helpful for me to see that students benefited from this type of learning experience and not just a professor saying this is what I did and how I wanted it to work, students actually gained a well-rounded knowledge of eras listed in the syllabus.  The other article I read in depth was Blogging for your Studentsby David Voelker I felt that the title alone meant the article would pertain to this class and also the other history/American studies classes I have taken in which we are required to blog on readings or movies. I found Professor Voelker’s article to be what I expected and more, he uses his blog, Ex Post Facto, to reveal what he took from the readings and also encourages students to write comments on it. I think his statement that when using a blog you should include an About me page to be interesting and naturally went and checked out his About Me page, which included a little about him and more about what he hoped his blog accomplished, I personally think he could jazz up his site a little more, a different theme maybe 😉 but I did overall enjoy his site. His encouragement to use blogs made me realize this is where history is headed to keep students interested in it and that by writing comments on each others blogs we take away not only the information posted but also other interpretations of the work, movie, or photograph assigned.

Through this class I have realized how much history is not just a topic about the past but is relevant to today and the ever-changing technological revolution.  I am happy to say the Images Site is doing well and through Google Analytics we have found that people from all over the country are viewing the site 🙂 The research continues and I have found the yearbooks to be really interesting especially from the 1960s and ’70s, from the hairstyles women had to finding out that some of the clubs from the 1966 yearbook still exist today, such as many of the relgious clubs and then some clubs/committees we no longer have such as May Day. It is always interesting seeing the pictures in the Battlefield and then realizing they are on the site and the people in the pictures maybe viewing the site, it brings history alive in my eyes and really cool, to sound like a 5 year old 🙂

disgruntlement

I think the title of my blog speaks for myself and the images group who are all disappointed with our map group and the roadblocks we have hit with them.  As we said in our presentation last week we were supposed to have our map draft last week but we still have not seen it.  🙁 I am hoping to see a map at some point but as a client I am not impressed. I am grateful that Jonathan created a map last week for us so we at least have one and it makes our site interactive. Thus showing the alumni that by signing our guestbook we can use their information to hopefully connect them to one another and spread the word so maybe more can identify people in the images.  ** We are on our way to finally having a map woo woo!

As far as the site not a whole lot more to update, I did e-mail the assistant director of alumni relations and she is featuring us again in the April Alumni e-newsletter to gain more publicity for our site. I am also hoping to get in contact with more professors so we can expand our site and map. The research will continue for this week, gaining more information about the collections we have and hopefully adding more facts about Mary Washington that we did not know previously. I am still curious to know when the MWC beanies came into fashion and when smoking became a norm in the dorms much unlike today? I think taking a look through Professor Crawley’s book will prove helpful and if all else we can add a few more images from his time at Mary Washington.  🙂

Google & more google

All of the readings/the video focused on the change in research in the past couple of years and how people are getting accustomed to it. Google seems to be the ringleader for the shift to digital learning and researching and people are behind it. I knew google wanted to take millions of books and put them into digital format but I did not realize they were going through several colleges such as Harvard.  The video dragged a little long for me, especially with the charts that were not very visible but I did enjoy that Peter held a Q and A after his talk to discuss google and what it hopes to accomplish. I think google analytics (as discussed in the second question) is a very useful tool and something maybe the group should try so we could keep track of how many people visited the site. I do wonder if they have made any changes to it so people can comment on the sites (or in the case of the video the books)?? Not sure if we would need that though since we have the guestbook and the contribution form.

I learned quite a bit about google and thoroughly enjoyed reading “googling the Victorians”. I had no idea that in a few short clicks people were able to track down lineages and gain family information-for instance finding the great great niece of a member of royalty and all over the Internet. As Patrick stated students today can find more on the Victorian Era than he could after twenty years of research and having to pour over hundreds of books.  All of the sites prove useful in understand the digitization of history/literature and how it is rapidly changing, proving this course will be a perfect addition to any of our resumes. 🙂

For site updates: I think it gets better everyday and we have had actual alumni write in the guestbook woo 🙂 I know this past weekend and this week we focused on research and making improvements to the site through looking at old yearbooks. I actually looked through the Centennial Yearbook and found several images that we have and more information to add to our exhibits and collections. Did anyone know about all of the pools our campus used to have and that the terrapins practiced in Lee Hall? Or in a few short years (1970s) Mary Washington became co-ed and broke away from UVA? I have definitely enjoyed the research and how it not only furthers our site but my knowledge of the school we attend!!

March 15th :)

OUR SITE HAS LAUNCHED!!! and in-case anyone has forgotten: http://umwhistory.org/projects/images   and sign our guestbook we are working on making it public so everyone can view who has contributed and remain interactive with our site! I have to say staying up and launching the site was really a rewarding experience I could not be more proud of our group. I am even more excited that people have been signing the guestbook, even if it includes ourselves and family it is still neat to see people looking at the site and hearing feedback. We have heard back from professors, Professor Crawley (who is featured on the site) told us to keep up the good work and I have heard from recent alums-graduated in the Centennial Year who said the site is just what the school needed. So again yay images group, “We did it”!!

Even with all the excitement and constantly checking how many people have viewed the site it is still a work in progress. Throughout yesterday alone it changed with the addition of the slideshow and configuring the site to display the most important part of the site-the images.  Last Friday Jonathan, Mary Ann, myself and Mary Ann’s friend Jason-which was really neat seeing his perspective on history classes here, met with Jim Groom to get a better understanding of omeka. The site I feel will constantly undergo changes until the end of the semester and continue on! We hope to add more images and continue research on the images we have that are unknown; whether it be year, people in photo(s) or activity. And to work on figuring out the exhibits…again check out the site and let us know what you think…as my brother said I sound like a marketing major promoting the site 🙂

post-spring break

Well back at school already…break went by too quickly for myself as I am sure the rest of you but plenty of work was accomplished! With the impeding launching of the images site, MARCH 15th check out our site, we spent spring break uploading our pictures and while it is not a very difficult task, uploading a number of images is very time consuming. I did enjoy looking through the pictures and finding that some were from actual photographers not just The Bullet or The Battlefield. I think seeing Mary Washington through the eyes of a student in the 1960s was a real eye opener, especially seeing a student smoking while studying in her dorm or even the thought of asking permission for a male to escort a student to Ring Dance. Mary Washington has changed alot over the years but some things have stayed the same, the traditions and the student pride will not waver and I think alumni would agree!

I think we did run into a few bumps, maybe someone from the hospital group would be more knowlegdable about how to work with the exhibits in omeka and how to better manage them…any tips?!?

week 7 updates

This week is full of work for myself as I am sure for everyone else, I get overwhelmed just looking at my planner with trying to fit in everything but this past weekend was a real eye-opener. The Images group was able to attend the Alumni Board meeting on Saturday in which we were able to sit-in on all of their topics of conversacion and then present our website to gather feedback from them. I have to say I was thrilled with the feedback from our currently small site, I had a sense that they were interested on being interactive members and would help wherever we needed it. We also have been invited to another event in April after our site is complete and we can mingle with local alumni to encourage their further contributions to our site even after the class is complete. While our site is still small, we have plenty of ideas to further our goals of making it a site that will be efficient for alumni and the Mary Washington community.

wikipedia

Wow, in a word after watching the Ted video on wikipedia, I have known several teachers/professors to disregard wikipedia and finding out the founder “monarch” is a fellow of Harvard makes it impressive. I do not think wikipedia should be seen as the only research tool in a project, but it is a quick and effective way of finding a point and furthering research off of that. After listening to the government of wikipedia I feel that is a somewhat valid source and the people who comment on the page cannot write whatever they please, there are rules to follow and guidelines that if not followed the person is deleted. ..will add more later, but wanted to comment on my impression of the Ted video (which are effective not only for our class but also anything to do with computer science, they give great lectures on everything from computer programming to i-pod/Mac usage).

The history pages on wikipedia are interesting for a lack of better word, I looked through pages on 9-11 and right away I found in the discussion pages disgruntled users asking why 9-11 had its own portal in comparison to other historic events.  Users commented on the 9-11 attacks overall and then after looking through individual pages on flights, United Airlines Flight 93 and American Airlines Flight 11 I found the discussions appalling.  The contributors fought over the accuracy of information, which I agree should be correct and the government should tell the public the truth, but the heroic efforts of the passengers on Flight 93 need to be fully recognized not fought over.  The discussion pages are clearly not academic sites either with the lack of formal punctuation, but the information gets across and it is a way for people from different backgrounds to make information accessible for anyone.  Also the history pages intrigued me the posts were all centered in clumps throughout the year it made me wonder if the contributors are notified with updates so all post at one time? Then someone goes back and periodically checks?

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