Digital Review of “Equity Maps”

Equity Maps is a teaching tool that allows the teacher or presenter to track how frequently and how long a participant in a conversation takes part. The site not only follows the talk but also records it in a way that is easy for playback and sharing. This is a downloadable application for smart devices with wifi capabilities. You can find the application by visiting https://equitymaps.com/ or by searching “Equity Maps” in google play or the Apple app store.

The application has a nice user interface and addresses client needs by offering different display options. The tabs in the application are easy to use and follow basic visual requirement needs. There is a high contrast background with dark letters and plenty of colors spread evenly. The structure of the app makes it easy to navigate through. Unfortunately, the application does not have a completely free version but the demo version did work as expected and was quite easy for me to maneuver around.

The design of this application does not look very original, to me becasue it reminds me of quickbooks or other financial strategy applications. The application is pretty responsive to ipads but not to phones. The ammount of features wouldnt fit on the screen and with the option of having up to 40 students, it seems non-pragmatic.

This application is pointed towards a specific audience set. Teachers are the intended audience for the app, based on the first view of the website and if you want to be specific, teachers interested in equity in the classroom are the intended buyers of this $1.99 app which is available on the Apple app store. The other audience specified by the app website is “facilitators, administrators, business start-ups and instructional coaches to provide a dynamic way to increase reflection and affect change.”

Equity Maps does something I have not seen done before. It tracks and records based on student genders, and where they are seated in the classroom as well as how long they talk and participate in the conversation. Technically, this could be done on another medium like paper or a board but it would not be as quick and easy to change. It seems to be a good application and has value to the results.

The application was founded by Dave Nelson, who had 29 years of experience in the field of education. He is from Oregon but is currently a coordinator and teacher in Greece. The creation of the website was done by George Sachpatzidis, who is a software engineer and solutions architect.

It is in my opinion that this application is helpful and can be used in a pragmatic way but the applicatiom is not necessary to achieve the same goals. Personally, I would take the ads in the application in order to not have to pay for the premium version. The interesting thing about this application is that there is no indication how this app can continue to evolve and when looking back on the older versions of the cite, it seems the site itself hasnt evolved either.

Take some time to check out Equity Maps and decide for yourself!

Theodor Seuss Geisel and his perspective on the war

Dr. Seuss Went to War: A Catalog of Political Cartoons.https://library.ucsd.edu/speccoll/dswenttowar/. Created by Richard H. Minear, The University of California,https://library.ucsd.edu/speccoll/dswenttowar/. Reviewed Apr. 2019.

Trench warfare, Pacific battles, and enslaved populace are common themes when one thinks about WWII. Often Overlooked are other areas influential to the thoughts and emotions associated with the war. Much of these emotionswere incubated on the backs of visual propaganda. The most widely known examples of propaganda are those used by the Germans in portraying allied forces in a negative light. Lesser knownare the war illustrations of Theodor Seuss Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Seuss. A far stretch from Green Eggs and Ham, the collection of illustrations catalogued on Dr Seuss Went to Warare reminiscent of Geisel’s personal and emotional take on the war from 1941 till 1943, while working as chief editor cartoonist at the liberal-leaning, New York newspaper PM.

First, I’d like to address the layout of this site. The University of California at San Diego did an excellent job at cataloging the work of Geisel into relative sections so that viewers can go directly to the specific areas that interest them. Dr. Seuss historian, Richard H. Minear, reproduced two hundred of Geisel’s cartoons which he divided into seven sections. Sections are divided by year—1941 through 1943—and by people, places, issues, and battles. In his introduction, Minear mentions that the entire collection of Geisel’s work has been digitalized for this website. Text and background illustrations decorate the site in a style familiar to those who know Dr. Seuss. I assume this is to prepare visitors for the humor and joy that so many fans remember and love.

As part of the three sections making up 1941-1943, Minear separates each year into subcategories labeled for the twelve months of the year. One thing that isn’t very clearly explained is the absence of time, in the form of months, as some years are only represented by a few months, where others are represented by twelve months. This is questionable when understanding that, the PM news-paper was a daily news-paper which ran from 1940 to 1948. By this calculation, it is easy to see that the two hundred illustrations posted here do not make up three years’ worth of work by Geisel. Minear does not clarify a reason for these gaps in time. As a viewer, I can only speculate the lapses in time correlates with the more unfavorable periods of the United States involvement in the war.

The remaining tabs, particularly the people, places and issues tabs, each provide an assortment of flexibility. Regardless of your level of knowledge on WWII, any of these tabs would lead the viewer to comics which entertain.

Within each, the viewer will find well recognized topics such as: Douglas MacArthur, Adolf Hitler, German, Japan, Normandie, and Propaganda. Also included are lesser known topics such as: Lend-Lease Act, Syria, Iceland (In WWII? How surprising!), Frank Knox, and William O’Dwyer.

My personal favorites were the People and Places tabs. As mentioned above, topics under the people and places tabs are filled with names and places unheard of to the amateur historian. For those interested in both WWII and Dr. Seuss, this is the place to start when visiting this site. Another really impressive aspect of this site, from more of an academic perspective, was the inclusion of metadata for all 200 illustrations included. Some of the more prominent information found here includes: Title of (illustration), Creator, Publisher, and Date of Publication. Of those I checked, each even includes a pre-created citation to be used in bibliographies.

Overall, the compilation of work by Theodor Seuss Geisel that Richard H. Minear presents in this site, provides the viewer an alternate perspective on a war much discussed though often taught biasedly.

Tool Test: Story Maps

Sleeter, S. Michael. “Southwest History Project.” StoryMap JS. https://storymap.knightlab.com/edit/?id=southwest-history-project.

            I worked with Storymap JS for this tool test.  The site allows you to take pictures and mark where they are from on a map.  It has a space of a caption and you can cite the source of the picture too.  There is a headline that you can write to name the picture or place, depending on how you are setting up the story.  Below the headline box is a place for text.  This box can be utilized in several different ways.  The most obvious one is to tell that part of the story for that picture.  It can also be used to simply describe the picture or the place that is being shown.  Finally it can be used to give information about the history of the area featured in the picture.   This is a great way to organize pictures or to use pictures to tell a story that is connected to locations.  The site is easy to use and the maps are simple to put together.

For this test I used pictures that I took in conjunction with the Southwest history project.  I wanted some primary source material that I controlled the rights too just to make things easier.  I laid out the pictures into a kind of tour of the area that people could use to guide themselves to important sites in the district.  I added a little bit of text as part of the trial, I will go back in fill in the historical research that I have done on these places to bring the tour up to professional quality.  Also I could have united the places by telling a story.  Not just having people travel through the space of the district, but traveling through the time as well.  That will be something I consider when I revise this project. 

This program is a real good tool for both professional digital historians and casual ones.  Students learning about history can also put this site to good use as a way to present projects they have worked on.  The photos were easy to upload, but they had to be the right size.  I had to crop all the photos I took because of the size limits.  The other issue I had was that you could only have one photo per slide.  This is annoying if you wanted to display multiple photos of a place.  You would have to set up multiple markers at one site.

I look forward to revising my test project and using this site in future projects to help people understand the history of space.  I am a strong believer in that you need to understand geography to have a full grasp of history.  This is one more tool to help people accomplish that goal.    

Digital Review: Bdote Memory Map

“Mitakuyepi! Welcome!” Bdote Memory Map. http://bdotememorymap.org/.

The Bdote Memory Map started out as a local history project on a wall of the Ancient Traders Gallery in Minneapolis.  The gallery is a community center for the Dakota people in the area.  The visitors who toured the gallery participated in the collection of the community history by writing their memories of Dakota sites on the wall.  The wall featured a map of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and was marked with important Dakota sites.  It displayed the sites with their Dakota names and allowed people to connect with those places.  Eventually the memories found a new home as they became digitized and turned into the bdote memory map.  The website is a continuation of the map on the gallery wall, plus the addition of educational tools and a telling of Dakota history. 

The website presents itself extremely well.  It is eye-catching and reflects the Dakota culture in many facets.  The main page has a menu that allows visitors to navigate the site.  A tab at the bottom of the page provides users with some background information about the Dakota.  It did not take me long to learn why this site was called the “bdote” memory map.  Clicking on the bottom of the circle takes the user to a video where a video shows a greeting in the Dakota tradition.  A click to the right side of the circle and the user finds a video that explains the Dakota place in the world as “Urban Tribesmen.”  The short video explains how the city is their home even after losing the land their ancestors lived on for hundreds of years.   Clicking on the top of the circle takes the visitor to the memory map.  It contains places around the Minneapolis-St. Paul area that are important to the Dakota tribe.  When the user clicks on the site, they choose a list of videos about specific spots.  Many of the videos are oral histories by people who witnessed the history that unfolded at those places.  The left side of the circle provides a link to a brief history of the Dakota people in the area.  It also explains the importance of being connected to a place.  Tabs at the top of the page provide a Dakota glossary with words read by the Dakota people themselves.  There are also lesson plans for teachers to help them teach about the Dakota tribe.

I found this website to be a great resource, it contains great primary sources and the information is easy to access.   The first thing that I noticed was that this website encompasses everything that public history is.   It is a community history, written by the community, for the education of the community and the public in general.  It provides insight into the history of the Dakota people in the twin cities area of Minnesota.  It allows community members to participate by adding their voices to the record and it allows young Dakotas to learn their history and traditions from their tribe members.  This well-designed site is very user-friendly.  It is a great place to learn more about the Dakota people for anyone who is interested in learning about them.  This site would be especially useful to anyone doing research on the Dakota people.  The oral histories are especially valuable for the stories that they record about the people and their experiences. Go and see for yourself, if nothing more than to discover why it is called the bdote memory map.


A Review of the Digital Academic Website EDSITEment

EDSITEment is a content provider of detailed lesson plans. Provided by accredited and financially sponsored academics for public use and evaluation, the quality of content is generally high. Content providers are, for the most part, professional educators, and most of these lesson plans are intended for secondary and higher education level courses. Overall, the sheer quantity of lesson plans is quite impressive. In general, they offer quality content that is backed by legitimate source material. However, upon reviewing dozens of these lesson plans, I’ve determined there is no adequate metric for determining the quality of each lesson plan.

It would appear that the administrators of EDSITEment simply sponsor certain educators with adequate qualifications to provide content. Rather than evaluate the quality of each individual lesson plan, EDSITEment places trust in their chosen content providers to provide quality content. The result is a great disparity between the quality of any two lesson plans.

The danger of this lack of regulation is that those who may be less qualified or ill-informed on a particular historical subject may take the content of a lesson plan at face value. Educators who wish to use these lesson plans should critique the overall quality of the lesson plan and determine whether the material presented is relevant to their classes’ curricula. If these vital steps are not undertaken, the result is that some of the less fulfilling, less substantiated or blatantly inaccurate lesson plans (there are some of these present,) may be adopted in the classroom. This is largely due to the unrestricted guidelines of EDSITEment’s content, which is both of benefit and detriment to the platform. The benefit of deregulation of content is that there is simply more content available, but the detriment is that much of this content is not adequately vetted by qualified individuals. The best way to understand the discrepancy in quality between lesson plans is to walk through the process of creating one.

The first section of an EDSITEment lesson plan is the topic or ‘guiding question’ that provides focus for the content provided. Some EDSITEment content providers use this section well, with specific questions that truly delve into the material and may invoke relevant questions in the intended audience. Other lesson plans I’ve seen have very weak guiding questions that don’t inspire the audience to make inquiries and simply digest information without thinking critically about the content. Fortunately, the aforementioned lack of regulation makes the less valuable lesson plans identifiable, as the weaker lesson plans often have uninspired guiding questions.

In my opinion, the section that truly determines a successful EDSITEment lesson plan is the ‘learning outcomes’ section. Here, the ideas voiced in the guiding questions segment are more fully developed, and the process of achieving the goal of the lesson is described. EDSITEment content creators often support their initial claims about the material with evidence in this section, and some of the more developed lesson plans have many learning outcomes with a number of sources that substantiate their claims about the topic. This section is the heart of the lesson plan, and it is solely up to the content provider to create a well-rounded outcomes section in order to successfully pitch the use of the lesson plan to their intended audience.

Aside from these two sections, there are several other segments that content providers can dedicate to providing extra resources relevant to the lesson plan. The best lesson plans I’ve seen use these sections liberally, and some have dozens of primary source documents and media varieties attached to the lesson plan for those who are interested in the topic and wish to explore it further.

In summation, EDSITEment is a great, albeit simple, digital platform that enables users to share their lesson plans and gathered materials with a wider audience of academics and educators. The lack of regulation ensures that there is a steady stream of new content coming in, but also leaves the responsibility of vetting the material to the individuals that access the website. As a primarily text based platform, there aren’t any multimedia features of note to speak of, but this simple platform is a step in the right direction. EDSITEment is emblematic of an increasing democratization of knowledge and a greater level of collaboration between educators between institutions and across disciplines.

For more information about EDSITEment, please visit their website:
https://edsitement.neh.gov/

A Review of the Digital Exhibit Tool Omeka

Omeka is a self-described “web publishing platform for sharing digital collections and creating media-rich online exhibits.” When considering this mission, Omeka’s developers make it clear that Omeka is a platform intended for academics and professionals, and not for casual use. Omeka’s statement of purpose also suggests the amount of detail that is customary of most of its exhibits. When creating an online collection, a great deal of time is necessary to gather valuable metadata on exhibit items. This again nods to the point that Omeka is intended for the detail oriented academic or professional.

The website is fully functional and everything works as intended. Visitors have the option to download the Omeka application for further ease of use and for some features that are not included on the browser platform, such as tool integration with academic software like Zotero. There are three versions of Omeka: Omeka S, Omeka Classic and Omeka Browser. When deciding which of the three a user wishes to use, there are visual representations of what they may expect with that model of Omeka. There are also integrated web pages for those who are curious to learn more about each model of Omeka. The Omeka landing page does not overwhelm visitors with too much information but allows for clear navigation to more information if they so choose.

Once a visitor chooses which version of Omeka to use, they will find that the platform allows users to tailor their exhibit to their own needs, abilities and volume of material. Integral to the Omeka platform is the Dublin Core, which is a valuable tool for entering and managing metadata related to an exhibit. There are fields for virtually any kind of metadata one could imagine, but users are not forced to fill out data that isn’t pertinent to their exhibit. In other words, the options are there, but aren’t mandatory to complete.

There are also numerous customization options for an Omeka page. One can tailor the look and format of their Omeka page to their own needs and preferences, much like a personal website. This is key to presenting a collection in a pleasing way to the creator’s audience.

Overall, Omeka is presented in a very professional manner and allows its users to create professional looking exhibits on a digital platform. The ability to customize an exhibit and have built in options to determine the amount of metadata one wants to include in an exhibit allows for both flexibility and professional quality work. Omeka is ideal for those who want to include visualization materials to their research while maintaining a professional looking exhibit that isn’t dominated by large blocks of text.

For more information on Omeka, please visit their website:
https://omeka.org/

A Review of the Digital Mapping Tool ArcGIS StoryMaps

StoryMaps is a digital tool that provides the resources to create a narrative using customizable digital maps. StoryMaps is part of the ArcGIS platform, a digital tool that is quickly growing in popularity, largely due to its unique format and great amount of customization options. The best way to evaluate the effectiveness of StoryMaps is to go through the process of creating one of these map-based narratives.

StoryMaps is solely reliant on the ability of its audience to see detailed maps clearly, as that is the primary benefit derived by using the ArcGIS platform. ArcGIS powered mapping tools form the basis of StoryMaps, and their quality is exceptional. There are a wide variety of maps available for use. Some maps highlight the actual street conditions on the ground. Others focus on specific geographical features such as mountains and rivers. There are even highly detailed maps taken from the United States Geographical Survey. These are the only maps that require knowledge of sophisticated cartographic elements. Aside from an ability to understand some of the more complex and obscure maps, the rest of the website’s features are all quite intuitive and require minimal technical ability. However, the ArcGIS platform is exclusively meant for sighted users. The only accommodations made for non-sighted users are the availability of alternate text sections that can provide an audio-based description of photographs and other forms of embedded media content.

StoryMaps is ideal for telling stories that take place across great distances, but can be useful for both regional and local stories as well. The diverse collection of maps and ability to display maps from a global to street level perspective is invaluable contextual information. There are numerous customization options available to lend even more information to the default maps. These options allow users to indicate the movement of people across time and space, highlight areas of interest and label locations with other valuable information.

Other than the maps, there is a significant amount of space on any individual StoryMap dedicated to text. This section includes all the most common and useful content additions and rich text editors that are available. Users can embed links to different types of media content, which when clicked will appear within the StoryMap itself in an area known as the ‘main stage.’ Other methods of embedding content are available when first organizing the StoryMap. Overall, the amount of media one can effectively package within an individual StoryMap is staggering.

There really is no limitation on who can and who should use StoryMaps, but those who would derive the most benefit from the platform would likely be those involved in the humanities, such as historians, political scientists, sociologist and any kind of cultural studies enthusiast. While not overly complicated, the use of the ArcGIS platform encourages extreme attention to detail, and therefore a patient and discerning outlook. It also encourages users who have a passion for the content they are providing. This in turn can inspire visitors to undertake similar projects based upon their own interests. StoryMaps is easy to learn and hard to master. At the most basic level, it is a great platform to tell a story through maps and different varieties of media content, and at its most sophisticated level, it can provide a platform for historians to provide deep contextual knowledge of a subject through a combination of academic research, mapping tools and media content.

For more information on StoryMaps, please visit:
https://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/

To see a fully developed StoryMap that I created:
https://arcg.is/1O9KK4

Review of Bdote Memory Map

http://bdotememorymap.org/

The Bdote Memory Map was created through a long term partnership between the Minnesota Humanities Center and Allies; media/art.  They thank their collaborators: First Person Productions of Migizi Communications, Andres Parra of VenUS Directions, Jewell Arcoren of First Nations Composers Initiative, Pat Nunnally of the River Life Program of the University of Minnesota, Marty Case of Allies Research and Writing and the Indian Treaty Signers Project, and Web design and development by This Clicks Interactive, St. Paul, MN. They also thank those who contribute words however the list is always changing and may not be correct.

Bdote Memory Map provides the Dakota’s people relationship and point of view to Minnesota. The project provides a decolonized approach to rethink historical sites, using multimedia platforms, documents of elder gatherings, interviews and oral histories, reflections for visitors and archives related to the Dakota presence.

The site opens up to the home page with a short description of what the site consists of and explains why the tabs are in the format of the different traveling directions. The background and colors used for the main page are very complementary to each other. The background is the same map that is used for the Memory Map however it is a more muted sand color. This color works with the contrast of the green that the tabs are. The tabs that are available to navigate are: We Are Home, Dakota Greeting, Mnisota: A Dakota Place, and Memory, which is the core of the site.

Next, the We Are Home tab directs the visitor to a video that is about one minute long. The video begins with a person saying, “De makoce kinde de untanhanpi” and large white birds flying. Next it transitions to a map with Fort Snelling and then an aerial view map of the same land. Then a layer is added on to the map with labels that are related to the Dakota people. It goes into two different speakers talking on the topic of their land being taken away from them. Below the video is a short caption about the Dakota people being from the land and also having a history with the land, like the site of their genocide.

The Dakota Greeting tab is a video of Chris Mato Nunpa, Ph.D. Dakota, Wahpetunwan saying the Dakota greeting in the original language and then translating what it means in English. There is a caption below the video however I am not completely sure what all of the information is.

Then the Mnisota: A Dakota Place tab that gives background information about the history of the land. There are also videos included to pronounce Mnisota, books and research that are related to Bdote area, the history of the Dakota people and projects. The videos are of decent to great quality. There are also links to voice recording on different topics.

Finally, the Memory Map tab takes us to a map of different locations important to the Dakota people. There are no different sites. When one clicks each site there is a description and background of the sites and videos proved. If one is interested in seeing more information, there is a read more link provided which goes to another page specially dedicated to the site and then there is also a link to click to see the site on Google Maps. There are two links provided on the main map: What is Bdote and About This Site. It is very important to understand the read to have a better grasp and knowledge of who created the project and what it is about.

Beyond the compass and map, there are links at the bottom of the site, which includes other tabs: Mnisota, Memory Map, Glossary, Learn More and For Teachers. These links provide more resources about area, glossary of Dakota words translated, and downloadable books, teaching guides to other resources specifically for teachers.

I would suggest moving the About This Site and What is Bdote? tabs in the Memory Map to the main page as well because it is confusing on what exactly the site is. This can be really helpful to future visitors, especially those who may be interested in conducting research.

Overall, the site is very well done in a nuanced view. There are not many projects that offer a decolonized point of view to history and the thanks of contributors. The site does not require any manipulation on the computer, like zooming in and out. The project provides many links is a visitor wants more information. The site provides a project for an empty space that is currently missing in academia and the voices of those who are oppressed.