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Archive for September, 2008

Wiki History

Posted by osiern on September 29, 2008

I enjoyed Dr. Rosenzweig’s essay on Wikipedia. I thought it was a well rounded argument, making me really think about the value and issues of the popular on-line encyclopedia.

I personally do not have a problem with individuals using Wikipedia as a research tool.  Students and the average person are going to Wikipedia, it’s incredibly accessible in more than one way.  It’s free (no monetary charge), it’s the first thing that shows up when you google a topic (fast to access), it’s organized in a concise manner (a table of contents and a page is broken down into topics), it’s written at a reading level that most are comfortable with.

My concern is that people do not use it in the correct manor.  However, I do believe that most teachers address this.  I have recently developed a web-page for my job about doing research on the Internet and I specifically address the proper use of Wikipedia, I want people to know it is okay to use it but only for the purpose of an initial introduction to a topic.

I choose three pages to look through and read the history and discussion of:

The Cubin Missile Crisis

The overall entry on the topic is fine.  This is where I actually did some initial research for a project I did for one of my graduate classes, from Wikipedia I was actually able to find very useful links to primary and secondary sources both on-line and in physical locations.

The history of the page shows that there has been a good amount of activity surrounding the site.  Usually every two days there is some adjustment, which there should be, this is recent history and the events are still coming to light.

In the discussion section I found one particular entry very interesting.  One person comments about how the exact times should be stated instead of “in the afternoon;” however, as my classmate who did research on just that discovered, naming the exact times is a daunting task.  This is especially true because of the time difference of Russia and the United States.  I really appreciate the conversation that is set in motion, since it is something that historians have also struggled with.

Ellis Island

Vandalism Found

Vandalism on Wikipedia

Vandalism on Wikipedia

When I started looking through the Ellis Island page I noticed some vandalism right away.

I took a screen shot, knowing that this would most likely be fixed in the near future. When looking back at the history I noticed that these changes had actually all occurred today.

This is one of many concerns with doing research on Wikipedia, however most people would notice this as a mistake right away.

Horace Mann

My last search was on the great education revolutionary, Horace Mann.  This site has also been having some problems with vandalism, which I noticed when I read the discussion page.

Time for a protection

This page is literally being monitored and followed by vandals. Nine vandal editions in just seven days (from March 17) and this is just an addition to a large file of previous attacks. Isn’t it time for a protection? —Filius Rosadis 16:48, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree with you that this page has been subject to much vandalism. However, Wikipedia:Protection Policy seems to indicate that protection is used very sparingly, and mostly for either high-profile pages or pages subject to heavy or coordinated attacks. I’ve seen plenty other higher-profile, more highly-vandalised pages that are still unprotected. I think we should just keep this page on our watchlists and revert as needed. We can handle 1 or 2 reverts a day. You take 1, I’ll take the other 🙂 AbsolutDan 05:25, 24 March 2006
This was just random that I stumbled upon two history based sites in a row with vandalism issues, however both were being addressed and there was a vast amount of great information there.
Again, the conclusion is: use Wikipedia wisely!

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Final project continues

Posted by osiern on September 29, 2008

I have been working this week on what the initial interface will look like for my IPhone self-guided tour.  This is the initial interface that a teacher and their students would see when they turn on their phones.  I don’t want it to be too busy and I still want them to be able to find everything they need quickly.  I’m not sure about the image in the background, I could just go with a black background.  All the teacher really needs to do is click on the tour icon and all the maps/video/photos/music/objects will be within that tour.  However, I also wanted them to be able to pull these items out individually.  There are also extras, like the NPS historian battle overview, which would not be part of the tour, but could be watched before or after.  Everything on the phone would be available on a website as well, for the teacher and students to access free.

draft 1 of interface

draft 1 of interface

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Good and Bad Education Sites

Posted by osiern on September 22, 2008

Okay, as a teacher I officially had 3 seconds a day to find a website/lesson plan/tool/”anything that will help me with my lesson for tomorrow!”  It did generally look like a freak out where I searched, typed, and printed as fast as possible so I could go break up the problem in the hall or pick my students up from lunch.  I know the stresses of being a teacher and the following sites did not help.  These both have home pages that are way too busy for a quick search.



However, both do have great stuff if you have the time to search.  I just don’t think they took their audience into consideration as well as they should have.

This site has a cleaner, more professional looks with easy to use navigation.  There are some ads and a few too many links. Also, deeper in they could have used better descriptions of the materials.


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thoughts on my project

Posted by osiern on September 18, 2008

This has been very exciting for me considering I am both an educator and public historian.  There has been a lot going on in my current position, as I mentioned earlier. I am currently working on the education section of our soon to launch website 2.0.  I am also working on the interpretation of a battlefield, which we have recently acquired and hope to have signs up on by May.

Over the past year my organization has put in trails and signs at two battlefields.  The person who held this position before me developed two teacher resource books that went along with these battlefields.  The resource books were to be used as a guide for before, during, and after field trips to these battlefields.  Included in the resource books is a self guided tour, which discuss the waysides and provids driving questions.  The resource book also included multiple lesson plans on the particular civil war battles at each site along with primary resources to use with them.  The primary sources included letters, military plans, commanding officer reports, census reports, prints, photographs, artwork, and maps. Also included are modern maps created for individual battles.

My idea would be to create an electronic “resource book” for our most recent site.  I would like to purchase a class set of IPhones and load them with all of the items that were in the original resource book along with audio and video.

When the students arrive at the battlefield our land steward or an educator would meet them with the IPhones.  They would begin at the trail head, which would also be the first wayside.  Here the students would see themselves as a dot on a map (using GPS) with an over lay of a map of the battle.  They could see where they are standing in relation to the battle.  They would also hear civil war era music and a video would open with a 5 minute narrative from a Civil War historian.  Following that the teacher would be prompted to discuss various “driving questions.”  Meanwhile photos and other primary sources would come up on the students phones.  As the class approaches another wayside the same set of events would take place leading them along the tour.

All of the information would be available online, just as our other battlefield resource books are, so that the teacher can access the information both before and after the trip to do the pre and post visit lesson/activities as well as prepare themselves for the tour.

The details of course all need to be worked out, but for many museums and parks using technology to provide a self guided tour has become very popular.  Often, such as in our case, there is a small staff and limited time.  Having a hand-held computer, which can quickly produce audio and visual is something a docent/tour guide could not do without a large bag and a boombox.

I look forward to tweeking the details, but would love to actually have this at my disposal.  I feel that it would be a useful tool for educators, teachers, and students.

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Historical Websites Homepage Review – Nicole Osier

Posted by osiern on September 12, 2008

I decided to look at the Kennedy Presidential library versus the Clinton Presidential Library.

The Kennedy Library homepage is a military green with red accent colors to highlight the main navigation.  The Clinton Library homepage is done in a medium blue with gray accent colors.  Both have pictures of the museum from the exterior, but the Clinton library uses the photo as the main image on the screen while while the Kennedy library uses a photo of Kennedy as their main image with the museum in the background.  Also in the foreground of the Kennedy page is navigational tiles to public programs, the museum, and historical resources.  The Clinton page offers navigation in a linear fashion on the top of the page.  These links include information, education, FAQ’s, and the museum.  General information about the Clinton Library is on the left side of the page.

The general feeling I get from the Kennedy Library homepage is one of historical significance.  Kennedy’s diary from Sept. 1962 is a highlight that they point out on the homepage, this is a great artifact and something I was happy to find on-line while doing research on the Cuban Missile Crisis.  By putting a link to historical research prominently on the page, I quickly become aware that this is a place to learn about American history during the Kennedy administration.

The feeling I get from the Clinton Library homepage is one of “what is in this museum?”  A large image of the museum from the exterior along with art work is the first thing one sees.  Is the Clinton Library an art museum?  There’s nothing about history when the page first opens up, there is a link for research, but this could be for research in anything.

The Clinton homepage, is unlike the Kennedy homepage in that the Kennedy homepage puts everything “above the fold.”  You cannot scroll down on the Kennedy homepage, but on the Clinton page you can.  Below the fold is where history is finally mentioned and a picture of Clinton finally appears, at the bottom of the page.

Neither web pages look great nor do they provide a well organized, easy to navigate homepage.



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Blog Choices

Posted by osiern on September 9, 2008

Written by Nicole Osier

Civil War Blog:  For some people the Civil War continues on.  It is one of the most popular topics to study in history and for reasons often unknown, strikes a cord with many individuals.


Public History Blog:  I like to consider myself a public historian, so this is something that will be useful for me to read and keep myself up-to-date with.


History is Elementary:  Finally, I am also a certified elementary school teacher and an educators, so I am constantly looking for ways to get students and teachers involved in history.


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a rush of technology

Posted by osiern on September 9, 2008

Written by Nicole Osier

First of all, I sound really hip now when I say. “I’m going to have to blog about that.”  I really like blogging, it’s like a journal that others can read, however I find myself forgetting that others can read it while I’m actually writing, which of course makes it more interesting for the reader.

I never entered an intial post about my understanding of technology.  As it may be obvious, I do not know very much about computer technology and i really don’t have a vocab. for it.  As an elementary school teacher I used to wow people with my Power Point presentations and overall web searching ability. However, now that my organization is launching our web 2.0 website and I joined this class, I have quickly learned how ignorant I am.

The title, “A Rush of Technology” refers to the fact that ever since class last night I have been reading, discussing, and research new media like never before.  Our website 2.0 will be launched at the beginning of November and my section, education, is one of the largest parts. I want the education section to be a resource for teachers, students, and adult learners.  This is a huge task, especially with our subject matter (I am going to leave that out for privacy purposes).  At this point I am overwhelmed, but excited to take on this steep learning curve.

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Manovich Response

Posted by osiern on September 7, 2008

I’m grateful to have read this article at the beginning of the semester.  This summer when asked by friends, family, and co-workers what class I was taking this fallI would explain that I was taking a technology and research course that was part of the History and New Media program at GMU.  The immediate question that would follow was; what is new media?  I had no idea, of course this spoke well for my education.  To finally understand the definition of new media is very helpful for my future explanations of this course.

Manovich’s explanation of new media and his historical narrative of its development was both clear and interesting.  I, like many other individuals in my generation, take the use of computer technology and new media in general for granted.  I was reading his dicussion of Jurassic Park thinking; well don’t all movies do that?  The fact that movies don’t aquardly cut from one scene to another is something I never think about.  I also never think about how computers are used in my life for both work and play.  This was a development that happened either before my lifetime or before I began to use a computer.  By the time I was in elementary school we used computers both at school for lesson and we had one at home for recreational purposes. 

I especially enjoyed Manovich’s discussion of how the “behind the scenes” software of the computer has had an effect on culture.  I do expect things to be organized in real life as they are in my computer, and that is in fact the way I organize hard documents in my office. This organization was not something I was told to do, but as someone who has used computers my whole life the organization naturally makes sense.

 At the very end of his book Manovich states, “To use a metaphor from computer culture, new media turns all culture and cultural theory into “open source.” (278)  I believe that at this point he is discussing the “new frontier” for discovery.  However, I think that he could also be discussing the idea of what my generation and most likely future generations will feel; a sense of openness, of choice, and alternate possibilities.  New Media, especially computers that we have been exposed to throughout our lives, provide us with various choices and opportunites.  We have not been forced to take one linear path through media.  This inturn has lead many in my generation to take more creative paths in life and look for mutliple routes.

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Hello world!

Posted by osiern on September 1, 2008

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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