HCC Final Project Reflection

After a semester of planning, organizing, and finalizing our project, we finally have a complete website. Our job was to document the history and development of the Hurley Convergence Center, and we used a contract to help us plan the steps. We started off defining the mission, so that the rest of our project could be focused with specific goals in mind. Our overall purpose was to bring awareness to the building’s features to, both the UMW community and those interested in joining our community. To accomplish this goal our team intended to build a website that would serve as a repository of documents and facts about the building, as well as host video interviews with the individuals primarily responsible for the HCC’s construction and development.

Initially, we met with Kyle Allwine from Admissions to get input on what they would like to see the website accomplish. We received helpful feedback from him which helped us focus more on the audience we would be presenting to. We then took a tour of the HCC to learn more about each room and some of the significant features and capabilities of the building, as well as conducted our own research ourselves. We then spent weeks conducting interviews with committee members who were involved with the development and decision making of the building. We used the Advanced Media Production Studio to film these interviews, after completing a training session which allowed each of us to use the room without staff supervision. We interviewed eight people total; President Richard Hurley, John Morello, Jerry Slezak, Martha Burtis, Cartland Berge, Hall Cheshire, Rosemary Arneson, and Jeff McClurken. Each of these interviewees gave us a unique perspective on all that went into the planning and execution of the building. We also conducted a video walkthrough of the rooms in the building that showcase its technology, features, and resources.

Our website includes a list of the student resources that building has, including a short explanation and video. We also made a timeline on the construction of the building. The video interviews we conducted, including transcripts, additional archives we obtained, and a bibliography crediting all those involved in the completion of our project, are also found on our website.

Overall, I am very proud of our final project. The website looks better and is more organized than I could have imagined. My main role consisted of setting up interviews by emailing the list of interviewees, and booking time to use the Advanced Media Production Studio during the times we needed it. In order to coordinate all of this, I began emailing prospective interviewees at the beginning of the semester to be sure that we would have enough time to interview everyone. Having more of a business background, I helped my group decide what audience we should aim our project at. I also assisted my group in the planning, organization and design of the final website. To date, our site has had almost 700 views, the most in one day being 164. I would say this is just one sign of the success for our website. I am proud to have been involved in a project that has such important meaning for my school, as well as me personally. The construction of the HCC was completed halfway through my college career, and it has made a significant impact on my academic experience. I am honored to have helped present the history of a building that has so much meaning to me, fellow classmates, UMW faculty and staff, and members of the surrounding community.

A link to our website is found below:

http://explorehcc.umwhistory.org

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Completion of Final Project

After weeks of planning, interviewing, and collecting information, we have finally completed our final website. My group members and I are very pleased with how it turned out. The project turned out better than I even envisioned it. Our website is user-friendly, organized, educational, and aesthetically-pleasing. The next step is making final edits Professor McClurken gave us. These include grammar edits and adding appropriate source information. After that, we will be ready to present our project at the History and American Studies Symposium this Friday. We will discuss the process of how we put together our project, including the proposal, the tour of the HCC, the interviews, the HCC walkthrough, and the final website.

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Final Project Update

As our project deadline approaches, we are making final tweaks, editing written content, video content, and and graphic content. We are also finalizing the organization of the website. We really just have loose ends to tie up, and then we will be ready to submit the final website. Everything is coming together pretty seamlessly, and looking back, we spread out our work load for the project very effectively. We have our last class presentation on our project update, and by then everything should be finalized. Overall, our website has turned out to be intuitive, user friendly, and aesthetically pleasing.

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This Week’s Reading Reflection

This week, we read articles about the impact of digital history  on historians and on the practice of history.

One of the articles called Blogging for Your Students, talks about all the benefits of blogging for a class. Blogs allow the author to make updates in the form of a log, and allows for interaction between the author and reader through commenting. Additionally, blogging is a great teaching tool. Because they are open to the public, no passwords are required. Since comments are made public, they tend to be more well-thought out because students know they will be seen. Professors can also post blogs to clarify difficult readings, and it forces students to think about topics before in-class discussions. The article compared making a blog to making an investment in the future. At the end of a semester, professors have organized reflections on all course material that they can use for future classes.

Another article, called Is (Digital) History More than an Argument about the Past?, by Sherman Dorn, analyzes what the relatively new issue of digital history, and how it impacts historians. Digital history poses many new questions for historians. Databases are now more sophisticated. One challenge that arises with publishing digital history is choosing how to display primary resources. Today, there is not so much of an issue of being able to display primary resources, but more so, how they want to display them. Later on in the article, it discusses the wide range of digital history projects that exist, as well as the range of tools available to present history. These tools range to present artifacts, events, teaching and learning, and argumentation. Digital history will require that historians work more in teams to document history. For example, tools will become outdated, so to make sites last for long-term, they constantly need to be updated and fixed.

Both of these articles bring up interesting and important points that historians need to consider when viewing and presenting history in today’s world.

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Project Update

We have begun making headway on the organization of our website. This week we need to start focusing more on that, and deciding how we will present the information on our website. The good thing is that we have no shortage of information. The tricky thing will be sifting through all the information we have and determining from that, what is important, and how we will organize it. Monday, we are conducing a video walkthrough of the HCC, with managers of each main room talking a bit about the purpose of the rooms and their functions. After this, we should have all the video content we need for our site.

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Google and HCC Group Project Update

This week, one of our class readings talked about the idea that Google “making us stupid”. The author proposed that the Internet is reshaping our thought process, making us unable to concentrate and think like we used to. He also suggested that the way we read is changing. “Efficiency and immediacy” are becoming priorities over deep reading and engaging. Kubrick’s prophecy states, “as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence”. I found this interesting, and can see where he is coming from, yet I found it to be more extreme than the reality. My perception is that the Internet is changing the way we read, but the changes are not only negative. We may be less focused, especially when reading longer texts, but information is much more available today than it used to be.

At this point in my group’s HCC project, we have completed all of our interviews. Now, what we need to focus on is finishing the timeline and finalizing the website. We are up to date on our contract.

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My Digital Identity

The past few weeks have taught me how important digital identity is. It has become more important for me to be aware and in control of how my digital identity is portrayed. I have updated my website, adding my resume and Portfolio of Digital Works in order to showcase some of the academic work I’ve done, as well as some of the experiences I have had. After this semester ends, I will definitely be adding the HCC website to my portfolio of digital works.

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Lessons on Digital Identity

  1. In order to create a strong digital identity, you must create a personal brand- you must be aware of and in control of your brand by defining your values and characteristics.

2. Just about everything we do online can be traced, which contributes to our digital identity.

3. In today’s world, it is virtually impossible to not have a digital identity. Even if you actively try to not leave a digital footprint, you are bound to leave one somewhere without even realizing.

4. Today, even children need to be conscious about their online activities-digital footprints start from a young age. Even games that kids play online can leave a digital footprint.

5. “Google never forgets.” Every action you take online is like a permanent record. It is important to think long and hard before posting anything online because it can be traced. Ultimately, this could have a negative affect on your career and reputation if you are not careful.

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Project Update

At this point, my group has our website created, as well as four interviews set up with faculty/staff involved in the HCC, for the week after Spring Break. The first of these  meetings is with President Hurley. Personally, I am very much looking forward to speaking with him. I think he will provide a great perspective on the building that we may not have had otherwise. We plan to ask him about his involvement in the building, as well as what it means to him having the building being renamed after him. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say. Hopefully, after the four interviews we now have set up, we will have enough information to begin working on the timeline for our website. We can continue to add to it as we conduct further interviews. It s exciting to see the planning of our project start to form into action. My group also went on a walkthrough of the building with the Building Manager of the HCC, and all of us learned many capabilities and features of the building that we never knew about.

Tomorrow in class, we will present to the class where we are with our project so far, where it is going, technical issues we have run into, and challenges we have faced. I look forward to hearing where other groups are with their projects.

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Wikipedia and Creative Commons

From looking at the History and Discussion tabs of many Wikipedia history entries, I never realized how much conversation when on about the content on the sites. I also never realized how frequently they are updated. Most of the pages I looked at have been updated within the month. Some of the discussion I noticed were questions regarding sections that people thought needed revision, as well as opinions on the validity and accuracy of the information. People also comment explaining what edits they made. Most of the discussion focuses on how each specific page can be improved, which is the purpose of the Discussion tab.  Because each page is so heavily discussed, I think it makes Wikipedia a more valid source of information than I once thought. Each page is constantly being red-over and improved, most of whom seem to be intelligent people. Additionally, at the top of the pages, there is a message reminding editors to use goodwill and write with non biased views while discussing the information.

The Creative Commons license that our website could use is the Attribution-NonCommercial license. According to Creative Commons, “this license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms”. This will allow others use the information and change it as they would like, without getting financial gain while still giving us credit. Due to the nature of our project, some of the information will change over time, so editing our site will be necessary. This license will allow others to edit our site, while still giving credit where it is due.

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