One Education professor I had loved one particular phrase and tried to relate everything back to it: Productive Struggle. In mathematics education, productive struggle is fighting with a problem until that one method finally clicks and you say “oh, I get it now”.
If only that’s how things actually worked, right?
This project has been an ongoing exercise in productive struggle, but I am thankful for it and impressed with our final product. We met and surpassed each goal, though we didn’t meet our deadlines. In drafting our contract, we tried to space everything out evenly without thinking about the actual difficulty of our products. Because of this, we finished capturing video and 360 photos much earlier than anticipated thanks to the ease of use. However, the videos took longer than we thought because we were all operating on different levels of editing experience. Also, we didn’t factor the time that communicating with other people would take. Our contracted duties and responsibilities also shifted around.
Kelly was in charge of the media because we thought we would have to stitch each image together. After we used the Ricoh Theta though, we were pretty much done with the 360 captures. We did have some issues with the image quality and museum lighting, but neither of these were things that we could change. Where Kelly stepped up was in video editing, as she edited 4 videos rather than 2.
I was responsible for the filming of the artifact videos and the nuts and bolts of the 360 tour. Emily, Kasey and I were able to knock out filming in one museum visit which was nice. This took considerably longer than the 360 images, even with two cameras. I also found the 360 hosting service that we used (Roundaa) that met our cost needs (free) and our functionality (interactivity, hotspots a plus). I learned how to use this and then inserted each hotspot into the tour. This took some time to learn, but once I got rolling it moved quickly and easily. Creating the page for the tour was simple thanks to the embed codes that Roundaa provides. I did decide to also add the Google Arts and Culture and previous ADH 3D scans to the tour, which wasn’t in the contract but synthesizes everything neatly.
Kasey’s role was to head the website and support everything else. I think hers is the position that changed the least through the course of the semester. She was also voicover liason, but unfortunately was sick when we recorded the voiceovers. She did remain in communication with the Speaking Center tutors throughout, so she fulfilled her job well.
Emily also stayed steady throughout. She handled all of the communication with the museum which was great for everyone involved. Emily also edited her two videos, worked on the timeline and storymap, and helped with the website. She didn’t do the closed captioning like planned, but she did constantly run accessibility checks on the website to keep the design on track.
Sarah was the least confident with video editing, so she created the closed captioning for the videos instead. I also taught her how to make QR codes and she created that resource for the museum. Additionally, she worked on the timeline and storymap with Emily.
All in all, we completed the requirements of our contract and then some. Our website is clean and accessible, the 360 tour works well and intuitively on machines that support it, and our artifact videos highlight the histories of some key museum pieces. The QR codes and 360 tour are particularly gratifying to me, as I think these will be the most useful for the museum going forward. Patrons can access online content easily through the QR codes and educators can use the tour in their classrooms. The timeline and storymap can be redundant, as they hold the same information, but nevertheless they are valuable educational tools depending on which standard is being covered.
I’m very pleased with this project. I’m happy with how our group worked together and the content we were able to create. I hope that the James Monroe Museum will find it useful for years to come.
Okay, I’m going to write out the process of the last two weeks of this project. Ready? aaaaand…. GO!
We weren’t able to get nice voiceovers from the Speaking Center, which is fair. Everyone is busy and has their own stuff going on. However, this meant that the artifact videos had to be made with our own voices (yikes). Emily, Sarah and I met up in the HCC on Thursday morning when we didn’t have class. I checked out two microphones form the front desk and we set up shop in the recording booth to knock it out. We tested both mics, used the only one that worked, and got to recording. We were able to get through two before a woman came in and said that she had reserved the booth until noon. oh well.
We ended up going into the Peer Tutoring room to finish the rest of the recordings. Thankfully, we were able to finish right on time at 10:45. I saved the file and uploaded it to our shared google folder. The next week, my teammates said that they were having difficulties opening and downloading the file so I lined the tracks up into a 30 minute long comprehensive mp3 and uploaded that as well. That seemed to work better.
For my videos, I edited the Peale Painting and the Pair of Pistols. I chose to do the pistols first since that one would be the most difficult. We had a lot of text (2 minutes’ worth) and not a lot of footage to go with it. There’s only so many ways to film two stationary pistols and remain visually interesting. The first thing that I tackled was a rough cut of the footage I did have. Spoilers, it was super shaky from the close range we had to film at. After this rough cut, I stabilized it in Final Cut Pro. The voiceover we had from this was very quiet and had some mispronunciations, so Emily and I redid it. From this, I edited the audio to make it faster, louder, and clearer. I also took away from pauses to fix the flow.
From this, i added the voiceover to the cut. I brightened the images on the video and asses the title screen, then I cut the video around to stretch it further and have the cuts match the pauses in the voiceover. This still left me with about 20 seconds, so I inserted public domain images of the Oxfordshire la, and General Alvarez. After this and some tine edits, the pistol video was ready to go.
The Peale painting followed a similar process, but was much faster to finish up. I edited the audio, created a rough cut, stabilized and brightened the video, and added an image of Peale.
At first I uploaded these to my personal Youtube channel, but I thought that that would get confusing. I created a new James Monroe YT and google account specifically for this project and shared the information with my team so that we had a landing space for the videos. I also transferred the Roundaa account to this identity.
360 Tour and Hotspots
The hotspots were very fun to put together. I color-coded each classification of link that I had and created a point for each object of interest. This was easy thanks to our google doc ‘Link list” in which we kept all necessary links. Sarah also created the QR codes for these artifacts from previous projects. My hotspots were red for our own videos, blue for the Kinekt 3d scans, and white for the Google Arts and Culture spotlights. I also created a short (30 sec) medley of the pianoforte music from the museum in order to have an audio track hotspot in the pianoforte experience.
Roundaa is easily embeddable in websites, so I just copied and pasted the embeds under headers on the designated page of the website. I had my mother and some friends beta test the tour without my input to see what needed to get changed. Because of this, I added an annotation at the beginning of tips and color code information. I also had my teammates test it and we caught some errors with the videos this way. However, everything is fixed and functional now.
So I guess that’s it! We worked together to go through with a fine toothed comb looking for errors in each others’ work before we submitted and some little things on the website changed and were added. The about page got fleshed out, Kasey added intro paragraphs to the pages, and the images were fixed. If you want to check out our final project before Dr. McClurken’s edits, check out http://jamesmonroe.umwhistory.org
I think that the simplest way to describe the changes in digital history over the last 20 years can be summed up in one sentence: “‘Web Site Reviews’ first appeared in the June 2001 issue of the Journal of American History and became ‘Digital History Reviews’ in the September 2013 issue”.
The trend has been one of open accessibility. JSTOR, search functions, collaboration all play into the innovative capabilities of digital history. As stated by Blevins, digital history should shift to the implementation of history rather than restating it. Dr. McClurken’s article and guidelines also describe the importance of analysis and scholarly review. Primary resources are more available, but there are also more non-scholarly articles available. Students have to be specifically instructed in navigating digital history sources, which is a skill specific to the digital era. The public also has access to greater information, equalizing the field and removing some barriers to learning.
For every DGST class I’ve ever taken, I have had to Google myself and find/ clean my digital footprint. Without fail, each time I find dirt that I clean out. Today was no exception — nothing bad, just things that are too closely tied to personal information. I did have fun going through the websites and taking small bits of wisdom.
Jess’s site is shiny, fluid, and readable. Her resume is impressive and she is able to use the Infinite Canvas of the internet to her full advantage in order to detail her accomplishments and accolades. My own (poor, poor, abused) resume needs TLC and this served as great inspiration.
Unfortunately, I have a very Ukrainian name which ties me to unsavory practices and events. (In case possible employers are reading, I am not a mail order bride). Thankfully, these worse things don’t come up until page 2 or 3 of my results. Over the years, I’ve done enough good things to push them down, when they were front and center my Freshman year.
This NYT article (that I opened in Incognito because I ran out of free articles) had lots of more basic things, like how to turn off Facebook ad preferences and more overt browser tracking (done and done). However, it also linked to this crazy website called click that narrates JUST HOW MUCH YOU ARE BEING TRACKED. It made me update the VPN I have on Chrome.
“Right now, video and audio aren’t searchable, but they will be.” Welcome to 2018, the age of Echo, Alexa, and Smart homes. This is why the only spy device I keep is my phone — I don’t want a Burger King ad to talk to my technology, and I don’t want my tech to talk back.
This article gave me massive flashbacks to EDUC 420 with Dr. McCall and studying the “Drunken Pirate” Supreme Court case. A student teacher posted a photo to myspace of her drinking from a regular plastic cup, captioned “Drunken Pirate”. She was over the legal drinking age, at an off-campus party, out of school hours. However, she still lost her placement and her teaching degree. She sued for a violation of her First Amendment rights, but the court ruled against her. As an educator, this case is as entertaining as it is frightening because our digital activity is far more closely monitored and judged than the Average Joe.
SO if you’re not HIP and IN THE KNOW, the James Monroe group is creating a 360 video tour, timeline, spotlight videos, QR codes, and website for the james monroe museum. my main job is figuring out the technology part of the 360 degree tour. Originally, we were going to use ThinkLink. It was super cool, great UI, easy learning curve, seemed perfect. Too good to be true, in fact. Over Spring Break I tried to work on the hotspots some more, but LO AND BEHOLD service was stopped because the free trial period ended. If I tried to do something or navigate somewhere other than the subscription and payment plan pages, I got hit with this lovely URL: www.thinglink.com/notallow .
Plans for businesses start at $20/mo. Plans for educators start at $120/yr. Neither were good or had guarantee of everything we were looking for. BUT!!! I may have found a saving grace on Tuesday.
It’s a free (really free, I read the Terms and Conditions this time) 360 image editor that lets you add interactive hotspots, with cool things like text, video, audio, and external links. And there are tutorials for everything. Here’s their sample video.
So, fingers crossed it works out! I’ve played around and it seems good. The next step is making it a real tour.
Our group has been greatly productive. We went to the museum, got all of our filming and principle photography done, and I’ve started to work on hotspots. I think that the timeline and research group is doing well, but we could do better in regards to our communication. We’re making good progress all in all. Next steps are to return to the museum on tuesday in order to finish getting footage of key artifacts. Emily in particular has been great at keeping us on track schedule-wise, and I’ve been heading the tech portion. So far, so good.
This week, we submitted the draft of our contract. Our challenges with that seem to be specificity, we need to add much more detail to what we will be doing and how we will be doing it. As far as the project itself, we weren’t able to get a 360 camera from where we thought. To our knowledge, the only 360 camera that we can use is from the art department, so Kelly will be getting trained in that now. On the bright side, we can get started on filming and editing artifact videos next week. We’ve been able to find great resources for creating virtual tours, courtesy of Google, and we’ve been in contact with Jarod about scheduling.
On a personal note, my blog is seriously broken. I tried to update the site, and thankfully I had a backup because that’s what I’m working off of now. One of my goals before next class is to get my blog updated and functioning again.
This week’s internet roundup was similar to last week’s for us. Our project seems relatively unique in that we won’t be categorizing artifacts or sorting through primary source data. In that, we found some common threads in the digital projects this week. The Lincoln website completely didn’t work, while the Residential Schools site was fluid and modern. The war memorials website was great if you were looking specifically for a name, but difficult to just browse around. The 9/11 repository did a good job on its videos, but uploading images, videos, and audio files directly to the site would burn a huge amount of space. There was one more site that Dr. McClurken linked in our Slack channel of another virtual tour. That one used image hotspots to turn images into links to 360 panoramas. This seems to be a good backup if the google tour has issues, like it did earlier. All in all, we don’t want things to be so complicated that they become dated, obsolete, or break entirely.
I’ve worked with both StorymapJS and TimelineJS before, and they’re fine. TimelineJS is clunky to learn but after trying it out once or twice it’s easily workable. For the James Monroe Museum, I could see using either Storymap or Timeline in order to create an interactive timeline of the Biography room. Honestly, I was more excited about using Soundcite and Aurasma/HP Reveal in order to bring keystone exhibits such as the piano forte and the Monroe desk to shine.
As for Aurasma, hopefully if you focus on this picture you will be greeted with a woman singing.
Aurasma seems more hit or miss, as I haven’t been able to get my friends’ phones to find it. This would be absolutely AMAZING for the museum, but again, it needs more working out. So far, everything is fine on the creation end, but being easily discoverable is something else entirely.
I found that in searchingI liked the projects that were more interactive such as the Emilie Davis Diaries and the First Days Project. There were engaging reads, such as Black Perspectives and History of the National Mall. I found that I could appreciate the detail in something like The Great Molasses Flood, but the event itself and other representations were more interesting to me than the close reading of the paper. Some websites were easier to navigate thanks to their design- First Days in particular comes to mind as very natural. Unfortunately, I can’t see very much of what would work in the James Monroe museum project. Maybe an Omeka site like the History of the National Mall would work to host the videos and tour? But, more than likely it would just cause issues when trying to integrate it with the existing website or something would break along the way. I honestly don’t see much useful in these tools.