The top three things that I liked about the structure of the class are:
1. The groups were given a topic, but pretty much went there own way with it. I like that we decided what the project would be, besides the general topic. I think there is a lot more of “us” in the website since we chose what it would look like, what would be on it, etc.
2. I like that we set our own deadlines and divided up the labor. It allowed us to complete portions of the project that we felt were the most important first. We chose to work on sections of the website that interested us.
3. The weekly progress reports really helped prepare us for the final presentation at the history symposium. We had been presenting about our projects every week so it made preparation for the symposium a lot easier.
The top three things that I would change about the structure of the class are:
1. I would have liked it if the information sessions were a little more spread out. For example, if we had the Simile Exhibit timeline workshop closer to when we were actually creating timelines. I took notes, but I had trouble remembering a lot of what we learned by the time I went to make the spreadsheet. I figured everything out eventually but it might have made things easier.
2. I think Omeka would have been a little easier to handle if we had a little more time with DTLT talking about it. When Patrick first introduced Omeka to the class, we didn’t really understand what he was talking about. I would have liked it if Patrick had come back again to talk to all of us (since we tended to have similar problems) in the middle or towards the end of creating the sites.
3. I don’t think I would change anything else.
Possible topics in the future:
I would like to see another Civil War Fredericksburg one (haha bias), but focusing more on the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862. I also liked the idea of having biographical websites. Maybe one on a different president…maybe Jefferson? I think that could get really interesting especially with the Sally Hemmings controversy.
Advice to future students-
Set reasonable milestones and keep up with them. Don’t save a ton of work for the end of the semester, because you will have a million other things due at the same time. The end of the semester tends to sneak up on you and the BAM you have like 50 papers and 10 exams.
Don’t be nervous when you start the class. It seems overwhelming at first, and you will have to do a lot of work, but it isn’t too bad. You will survive it.
Just trust Dr. McClurken and visit and email DTLT. Any huge problems you face can be solved by one of them.
When I first signed up for this class, I really had no idea what I was getting into. After coming to the class and seeing the syllabus, I was a little freaked out. I thought it was going to be a ton of work. It was. But, it was not a ton of work in a bad way. Researching this subject and creating the site was a lot of work, but it was fun. It was a nice change from papers and books. I’m happy that we have something to show for our work, other than just another paper.
Our project meets the standards set by our contract. We used the tools and omeka layout that we planned on using. The map group completed maps that corresponded with the vision of the maps that we wanted. I feel really lucky that our map group was so cooperative. They finished our maps pretty quickly and they look great. We consistently met our deadlines, sometimes days or even weeks ahead of schedule. We maintained the division of labor that we established in our contract. I believe that the final product that we have created matches the mission statement that we established before beginning.
Our group occasionally had communication problems. However, we never had any huge issues. I think we worked very well together. Every member pulled their own weight and completed the work that was assigned to them. I was nervous about the fact that this semester long project would be done in groups. I think everyone cringes when they hear the words “group project”. However, my experience this semester might ease my future cringe reactions. I was surprised at how easily we got along and how easy it was to agree on most parts of the project.
For anyone who might take part in this class in the future, Google will be so helpful. The Google wave and docs were the biggest tool that we used to keep in contact. We created docs for each exhibit of our website and everyone posted information in them. We also used a google doc every time we had a presentation to help us organize and gather our thoughts. I feel like using google docs streamlined the process and made it easier.
Overall, I am happy with the site. I still don’t think that Omeka is very pretty, but I think that Omeka worked well for our purpose. We wanted to post primary documents on our site, and Omeka accommodates that pretty well. I’m really glad I didn’t get scared away from this class, as I’m sure some students were. I’m really happy and proud that we have finished this site.
Our group is currently working on getting everything uploaded to the site and editing each members’ written interpretations. We want to have it as completed as possible by Research and Creativity Day, which has snuck up on us and is next Monday! I received the business cards that I ordered. They look pretty good. I’m happy we will have those for Research and Creativity Day in case anyone is interested.
The first article that I read was written by Christopher Miller and it was about Wikipedia. I thought it was really interesting when he talked about how he used Wikipedia during his research to answer a quick question. The answer he found in Wikipedia was wrong, and it made its way into the article that he wrote. That is so embarrassing! I try to never use Wikipedia for anything important, just if I have a quick question (usually not related to class). He talks a lot about how Wikipedia has a bad reputation, but mainly because it is an internet source. He feels that a lot of professors, teachers, etc. hate all internet sources, not just open sources like Wikipedia. I still have professors who require actual print sources instead of only internet sources.
The second article that I read was written by Anthony Grafton and it was called “Clio and the Bloggers”. He talked a lot about how much he loves historical and scholarly blogs. I liked what he said at the end, about historians feeling like history has lost its sense of community. He said that looking at different blogs still creates that sense of community, just in a different way.
Over the weekend, Lauren and I went downtown to take pictures of some of the former hospitals that are still standing. We stood on Princess Anne Street with the tripod and camera, and people looked at us like we were insane. There were a couple houses that we had trouble identifying, so we had to sneak up on the front porches to read the historical markers. Hopefully Lauren will upload the pictures in the next week or so so that everyone can see them.
I’ve been working on writing my written interpretations for the site. My section is the civilian response section. Writing my interpretation of negative responses wasn’t too hard. I’m having more trouble writing about positive responses from civilians. It seems like every source that I read is a negative response. I mean, the civilians helped out and opened up their homes (most of the time, because they felt like they had to). A lot of the civilians seem to be pretty bitter about the situation. So is that positive because they did help, or negative because they did not want to help?
We also received our maps yesterday from the map group. I think they look pretty good. Our group will probably discuss them more today in class.
This past week has been pretty much insane. It seems like everything was due at once. On top of all my other work, I was trying to finish the spreadsheet for our timeline because we hoped to have the timeline up and running by today. We were having doubts as to whether or not we could meet this deadline, but we did it! Patrick and Dr. McClurken fixed our timeline so that it goes by months. This fixed our problem of all of the dates piling up on top of each other. The timeline was still crowded in May of 1864, which is the time period our project really focuses on. We decided to cut out some of the dates we had for when specific relief workers were in Fredericksburg. It helped the crowding issue a lot. We decided to cut the dates out since we did not have specific dates for all of the relief workers we discussed. Taylor is going to tackle the HTML soon, but other than that the timeline is all set.
Right now, I am working on writing my written interpretation of civilian responses. On Saturday, Lauren and I will be going downtown to take some “now” pictures of the hospitals that are still standing. Hope everyone is having a good week!
Today in class I started working on the spreadsheet for our timeline. I was nervous about using it at first, it seemed complicated. It’s not that bad. I did have a weird issue with the dates. When you type a date into the box you need to put =”2010-03-16″. Otherwise it won’t show up on the timeline. Although the spreadsheet is supposed to be my job, Megan helped me out today in class. She put the title of the event and I put the dates because we have a ton of dates for our timeline. It made the work go by a lot faster.
We are having another issue with our timeline, which I will discuss more in our 3-5 minute presentation tomorrow. Basically, since our dates are so close together it makes our timeline look really bad. The dots on the timeline are on piled on top of each other. We have talked to Shannon and Patrick so hopefully one of them will have an answer.
Right now, I’m still working on finishing up reading my secondary sources. Our deadline for that was Tuesday, but hopefully I can finish it up today so I won’t be too far behind. We have a ton of sources to look at and I’m pretty sure that no one in my group is completely done. We are also trying to get dates for our timeline together and finalize who we will highlight in profiles. We started a google doc for the timeline dates and the profiles, so we are all compiling our work online. My job is to make the spreadsheet for the timeline so I am looking forward to getting that done. We are also starting to figure out some of our copyright information because we hope to finish that by March 18. In class yesterday we talked to Dr. M. about some of our questions and I think we are making some progress in that area. It would be nice to have all of our copyright info figured out soon so that we can be ahead of the deadline. Some of our sources are transcriptions of letters and we are unsure of who transcribed them. In order to give proper credit, we have emailed Dr. Hennessy (he gave us the sources) to find out who transcribed them.
The week of March 22 Lauren and I will be going downtown to take some “now” pictures of the buildings that were used as hospitals. Hopefully, the weather will be as nice as it was this week. Before we do that, we have to finalize which buildings we will be highlighting on our website. This process will be pretty easy because Dr. Hennessy gave us a map that shows which hospitals are still standing.
Hope everyone is enjoying the weather 🙂
This past week, I have been working on getting through my primary and secondary sources. I’m getting there, but I still have a lot to look at. I guess that is what my spring break will be spent doing…reading about hospitals and medicine.
We finally got our map idea pretty much finalized. Now we just have to meet with Dr. Hanna’s students. We also have the basic layout of our omeka site set up. Our deadline for that was March 4th so we are a little ahead of schedule. It’s amazing how great I feel about something being done a week or so early.
There isn’t really anything else new for me to report. Just trying to get through all of the wonderful sources Dr. Hennessy gave us, and hopefully finding a few more. Hope everyone has a nice spring break, even though I know we will all be working!
I started out by looking at the Civil War page of Wikipedia. It had so many revisions that there were tabs at the bottom directing me to other pages to see more. The earliest revision was on July 7, 2008. That first version is much shorter than the most recent version. The revision from November 13, 2009 looks like there must be something wrong with the header. There is just a link at the top of the page. A revision about 10 seconds later fixed the weirdness at the top of the page. Most of the revisions were done almost back to back with other revisions.
The discussion tab showed some interesting things. People were discussing things that they felt should or should not be in the article for civil war. Most of the questions and comments were serious. Every once in a while, someone would say something completely ridiculous and it makes you wonder why Wikipedia even exists. There was also a discussion topic about vandalism. Some people were upset because someone started talking about demons in the middle of the civil war article.
It was really interesting to see the changes in the article and to see responses to the changes in the discussion tab. Dr. Fernsebner showed us a really cool video about the changes that a Wikipedia page goes through. It showed all of the vandalizing, then correcting, then more vandalizing. It almost made the Wikipedia page seem like it was part of the battle. Anyway, I would recommend watching that video. I just can’t remember what it is called!
I’m sure you will basically see the same story on my blog that you will see on my group mates’ blogs. We discussed the contract in class Thursday (and had done some minor discussion previously on Google Docs). We still hadn’t worked much out, but hoped to meet over the weekend. Then, the snow came and I couldn’t get to campus. So, I recieve a contract from Lauren. I looked it over, then received one from Taylor, too. Lauren made a combined version, but clearly Taylor didn’t recieve the contract and thought she was the only one working on it. Eventually, we all figured out the mix up and started to edit a new version.
Looking over Dr. M’s comments, I noticed a lot of things about the contract that I didn’t see before. I think his comments will be very helpful to us in editing our contract, and especially in completing the project. So, the editing has begun and hopefully everything will be straightened out.
I definitely agree with my group members that we need to have much better communication. We need to exchange numbers. I’ll be honest, there are some occasions where I don’t think to check my google mail. I need to be better about that. I think the issues we’ve had this weekend were a reality check and showed us that we need to get in gear. At least we are going to work out this issue in the beginning, before it’s too late!