Digital History Reflections

April 22nd, 2008

First let me say I am happy to be done with this project. I feel that my extended information for markers complies with the contract, with the exception of only one marker, From Indian Path to Highway, which was the history of Route 1 which neither I nor Jack Bales could find a second source for, let alone our goal number of five sources per marker. The other markers ranged as well with their availability. I feel that the length of my entries directly correlates to the number of sources I was able to find. I am very confident that my research was well done and that I found appropriate extended information and photos. The contract itself is rather vague. When it comes down to it, there are so many nit-picky things that I would have never thought of before getting into the thick of things (such as tagging or linking etc.) that weren’t in our contract but did take a long time to complete.

Personalities and work methods are two things that my group continued to readjust around as the semester wore on. I didn’t miss any deadlines (with the exception of the first one which we edited and discussed with Professor McClurken), which is not the case for any other group member. I am an intense group member. That said, I was an asset to this team in several ways. I plan ahead and make lists which I felt did help us find a consensus on what was agreed upon. I came prepared to meetings with comments and questions, or an actual agenda. I presented in class relevantly and regularly. Also, I helped other group members and volunteered for extra projects.

I have learned a lot in terms of technology this semester. I can honestly state that I was little help in the website building. This is an area of weakness for me which I knew coming into this class, which is the reason I took such a dominant role in planning and taking on extra little projects as we went. By extra projects I am referring to; compiling the master list of markers, dividing them up, ordering them by date, plugging categories etc. into the timeline, writing the group bio/welcome, writing the Program History, field work with Amy, contacting hmdb.org, and compiling the “All Markers” page. I also picked up the “Caroline County” side of one of Shannon’s Markers on Monday afternoon, so that we could finish on time and with good quality work.

Our group created a website that I am proud to have my name on. We definitely fulfilled the assignment given to us, and made a pleasing and navigable site for the general public. We went beyond expectations by complicating the site with extra features, such as personally taken photographs and extra pages such as the program history, timeline, all markers, tags, and categories. Some group members were more consistent than others. I believe this is evident in the final products which we initialed for this purpose. We set ambitious goals to have the research completed early so that it could be revised and checked for accuracy etc. I encourage the use of the site administrator tool to see when posts were made public, because it is very telling as to who was on top of deadlines and to what extent some members procrastinated.

I don’t believe it is necessary to write in much detail about the issue we had Tuesday morning. I have stated my opinion on the situation, and I can do nothing else. I do feel that having had no part of the decision, it should not be held against me. I feel very strongly about this project. I can honestly say that I have done more work for this class than any other class I have ever taken. Despite everything, I am very happy I took this seminar.


Student Research and Creativity Day

April 18th, 2008

I don’t know about you guys but I wasn’t aware this day was such a big deal. All my teachers are talking about it and saying what an honor it is to be in it… and now I am way more nervous. I do think it is a really beneficial thing for us to have BEFORE the symposium, maybe we can get the nerves out now when our grades aren’t on the line. I wish everyone the best of luck.


We have link love

April 13th, 2008

The Historical Marker Database now has us in its related links and books page… and yes there are more than 56 links so we aren’t even  the last ones! The Editor sent me an email to let me know he had added us!!!! SWEET! AND there is a blurb on us!

56. Fredericksburg, Stafford and Spotsylvania (Virginia) Historical Markers. A website produced by a group of University of Mary Washington history majors as part of a seminar called Digital History. Has background information and references for further reading on the subject of a number of historical markers in the area. (Submitted on April 13, 2008.)


TWO more weeks

April 12th, 2008

So today it hit me – my goodness in two weeks [plus exams] I am going to be a senior. It seems like just yesterday I was graduating high school. It’s also scary how much more we have left to do in the year – not necessarily this project, but everything else on top of it makes it seem just massive and scary.

This week we had a group meeting Wednesday to talk about final touches and plan for our 15 min presentation thursday. The post before this one details who said what. Unfortunately all but Whitney had to go back in and cite our photos in a different way. I did mine yesterday so I am officially done with things [minus one citation I still need to complete in CCC] until we think of anything else. I think the site looks great and I am really proud of it. Amy and I just have to hit up the last stops for our field work, the two large battlefields nearby, and then we are FINISHED! Great job everyone.


April 10 Presentation Breakdown

April 9th, 2008

10-15 Presentation April 10th

– Navigation tools [Shannon]

– Group Picture [Elle]

– Field Work/ show examples of pictures in posts [Amy] – Fall Hill excitement.

– What’s left [Whitney] – Shannon and Jen have more posts

 – Editing for those still to be done, both text and bibliography.

— More pictures will be taken by Elle and Amy.

                        — Linking to other sites/permission

– Showing off the Timeline [Jen]

– will be completed – links to specific pages

– Ask for any comments/feedback?


Response to articles for Tuesday’s class

April 7th, 2008

The first article I chose to read for Tuesday’s discussion was “Strange Facts in the History Classroom: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wiki(pedia)by Christopher Miller. I liked Miller’s voice and personal-ness that he brought to the article. I also like his honesty in admitting to being a “wiki- victim” – having used wikipedia and having had information he found there be published, and also having had that information be wrong. The article is about a class he schemed up to prove to students that wikipedia was not a good source. He had a three part program and felt that surely he could convince students to search for better sources than wikipedia. Alas, Miller’s students had barely heard of wikipedia and did not feel that this source was that bad after all. It took until the final section of the project for students to realize that wikipedia was not a valid single source for research. Surprisingly their findings were that wikipedia was no better or worse than most printed encyclopedias. I think Miller learned from his students and also achieved what he set out to do – taught students to investigate and challenge where their sources are coming from.

The second article Doing History in the Digital Age by Barbara Weinstein had a similar personal tone. Weinstein admits to being a less than digitally savvy professor and describes her evolution into a more digitally intelligent scholar. I think we all can appreciate this article on a personal level after having been educated on the same topic this past semester. She ends with a warning of smart use and control of sources. I think this is a wise warning for any of us.


Navigation

April 6th, 2008

So this week has meant big things for our site. We have much better navigation options – including my All Markers page [which is linked to all completed markers], Categories [with only marker text results so that more are displayed and you can find things easier], and a Tag Cloud page. Any suggestions are WELCOME and APPRECIATED.

Check us out at – http://fredmarkers.umwblogs.org/

Our finishing touches include: finishing undone markers [actual text, linking, categorizing, editing, tagging, etc.] revisions/editing on site, adding pictures to individual pages, bibliography editing, and any tweaking that is suggested. I only have pictures to go on my personal pages and we do need to investigate everything to trouble shoot a bit further – for now… I get a small break.


Rolling

April 2nd, 2008

We have officially gotten the ball rolling…. Amy’s post states everything we did in tonights uber-long meeting. I just want to continue the love trend of my posts by saying – we are awesome.

Our site looks fantastic, we have only tweaking [time consuming but not stressful] left to do. Tonight I am finishing a page “All Markers” which will include a list of markers in their separate counties in alphabetical order – LINKED to their pages on our site so that we have an easier way to navigate to each marker. We had a group session on uploading pictures… even I understand how to achieve this feat now.

We also decided to do the Student Creative Presentation thing on the 18th, which I think will be very good practice for the history symposium.


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