Osiern’s Weblog

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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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4 Responses to “thoughts on my project”

  1. Mike said

    I like the idea of the iPhones, though I wonder if there could be some alternative technology as well. Having that linkage with GPS could definitely enrich the experience thru recreations and other sound and visual queues.

  2. hmoir said

    Nicole,

    This is awesome! I really like your idea for the final project. It is innovative but perhaps more importantly will actually help the public. It seems too often that public historians do not take the general public into account enough when they create public history formats. Your idea is pragmatic, too, as with your resource book, visitors will no longer be limited by the number of staff members available, and they can go out on self-guided tours, which I think people really enjoy, especially in the outdoors. I think this will also appeal to youth–we need to show younger generations that history can be relevant, fun, and even trendy!

    I would not change anything about your project proposal. But as regards the current website for your park, do they have printable worksheets, quizzes, or tests, or other in-class exercises that teachers can hand out before or after the visit? If this isn’t a feature yet, maybe someone on the staff could add it, with PDFs corresponding to different grade-levels and skill levels. In my brief experience teaching elementary schoolers, I just remember how great it was to have an expert make up a worksheet, rather than have to make one up quickly and without knowing much about the specific topic. Anyway, this is just a thought for other staff members, like I said, don’t change anything about your proposal. Well done! I wish my final project had such definite contours already!

    Holly

  3. meconnors said

    I think that would be great. I love visiting battlefields, but sometimes find it difficult understanding how the action took place.

  4. populariscultura said

    Nicole-

    This is a great idea and a very exciting! It is a great step forward in thinking about utilizing the most up to date technology to create digital resource material. It also can create an interesting, interactive experience for students and teachers alike.

    Tina

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