For the second piece of the puzzle, Dr. Kelly has asked that I respond to the following questions:
How will digital media and/or digital tools be important to teaching my target audience one of the essential lessons I’ll be focusing on in my project?
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my final project, which is related to the Women in American History course which I will be teaching during Fall 2017. Both digital media and digital tools will be important to my lessons about mining primary sources and creating Omeka items and exhibits.
Since this course is online, digital media will play a crucial role in my teaching. At the beginning of the semester, I will utilize the podcast that I made last semester to introduce my students to A Woman of the Century: A Crowdsourcing Project of the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries. Next, I will create podcasts related to mining each type of digital source, about creating item records, and about creating exhibitions.
Digital tools will be very important in teaching my target audience to mine sources. I am going to ask each student to mine the A Woman of the Century book online and/or the A Woman of the Century by Birthplace exhibition or A Woman of the Century by Occupation exhibition to select an available woman to research. Next, I will ask each student to read the woman’s biography and to find additional information that he or she can incorporate into a short essay in the description field of an item record (he or she will be creating the item record and filling in its fields as well).
I have created a collection called A Woman of the Century Contributor Training and Resources which will have the podcasts, as well as items with links to Chronicling America, Haithi Trust, Internet Archive, Making of America Cornell and Michigan, Wright’s American Fiction, and other digital primary sources the school has access to. In most cases, the students will find at least some information, while in many instances, there will be quite a few new resources. The students will learn that there is more to each woman’s story than is listed in the biographical sketch, and they will be asked to write blog posts about the research process and what they have learned from it. As the students do the research related to one woman, I will require them to mine A Woman of the Century and the project site to see if any of the other women mentioned in these new sources are in the book. If so, the students will be required to mention each woman’s name in the description field and to add her in the tags and item relation field (if she is in the database at that point). Students will be required to include the primary source information in the publication or periodical field (if appropriate), to add the URL in that field, and to add the bibliographical information in that field. I’ll also search each woman and see if I can find things that a student has missed. If so, I will touch base with the student to explain other ways that he or she could have found information. Finally, I will ask the students to mine online sites and secondary sources to add these resources about the woman to their bibliographies.
This mining piece of the project will teach the students about historical databases, about searching with them, about the subjectivity of resources, how to deal with conflicting data, about synthesizing information, about working with Omeka fields, and about creating online bibliographies which will assist others in the future. Another part of the project will include utilizing metadata to discover trends about women using at least one metadata field and creating an exhibition based on their research.
What, specifically, about the digital environment will influence what you do and why?
I have been working with A Woman of the Century for twenty years, first with a hard copy of the book and later with an online version. Since I began this project, the book and other digital resources listed above have become available, making the research related to A Woman of the Century much easier for me. For years, I worked on this project on an Access database. As I taught A Woman of the Century and created assignments related to the book to three different groups of students over the years, more and more digital resources became available for their research. Now, since I am in the Digital Public Humanities Graduate Certificate Program at George Mason, which I learned about online, and I learned Omeka in it, this course about American women will be a much richer learning experience.
First of all, I have the in-progress Omeka site to work with. Using Blackboard and podcasts, I can teach students, as well as all of my viewers and contributors, how to become consumers and then producers of this A Woman of the Century digital product. Now that so many primary sources are available digitally, I’m able to teach people how to use them for research related to the women. These students and other contributors will be taught how to create items, how to synthesize information, how to utilize metadata, and how to create exhibits. Except for learning how to synthesize information, none of this would have been possible when I first taught American women’s history in 2001. My students from 2008 and 2012 had fewer digital resources and did not have the Omeka platform. It has given me great joy to have some former students as contributors, and I look forward to teaching this year’s students about A Woman of the Century, historical research, historical thinking, and digital tools.