Bay of Pigs Project Summary

Final Project Thoughts: Bay of Pigs videos on Google

The goal of my print project was to look at Bay of Pigs videos on Google and evaluate them from several different perspectives and to help future Bay of Pigs researchers distinguish which videos accurately depict the facts of the Bay of Pigs.

First, I evaluated the amount of substantive videos on Google. What I found is that Google lists about 10 pages of videos, some of which are different versions of the same video. For example, the History Channel offers one forty minute version, which is their long version, and also shorter versions of that same video, which emphasize different aspects of the Bay of Pigs. Second, I found that the videos vary in their historical accuracy and political bent, which were two important qualities I searched for. For example, I discovered that while some videos stated that there were 1,400 Cuban exile invaders who landed in Cuba in the early morning hours of April 17, others stated that there were 1,500 Cuban invaders( the actual number was 1,511). These videos also disagreed on how many were actually killed, with one video saying 115 were killed and others saying only 100. Another weakness of the Bay of Pigs videos, other than numerical and historical inconsistencies, is that almost none of the videos provide adequate historical background of the Bay of Pigs. Many prefer to talk about the invasion itself, the aftermath or analyzing why the invasion failed and some base these discussions within the context of political bias.

That said, I noticed that the videos had different themes. Some talked about the failures of the in planning the invasion by the CIA, some focused on the Cubans who were captured, some focused on Kennedy and his decision making and his reactions to communist threats from Khrushchev after the invasion. I consider this a strength of videos on the web. These videos, viewed together, can give a student/ researcher a good perspective of the Bay of Pigs, while focusing on different aspects of the invasion that some books and newspaper articles fail to cover. The video on the Alabama pilots, who lost their lives, trying to protect the invaders, is a story that has rarely been written about and a story that one would not find if just researching the Bay of Pig with articles that were printed in 1961, since the full story did not appear until later. Thus, I appreciate the idea that watching different videos depict different aspects of the Bay of Pigs. I believe that understanding different perspectives on the web is similar to putting a historical puzzle together to get a bigger picture. As Gee would say, these videos, like video games, whet an appetite to learn more, inspire a student/ researcher to solve the Bay of Pigs enigma, and most importantly, to think more critically about how the Bay of Pigs fits into the bigger historical picture of the Cold War.
Overall, I discovered that in doing research on the Bay of Pigs, videos on the web augment the research process, but should never be used as the only historical source. Also, researchers need to compare historical facts between the videos and cross check those facts with books and articles to make sure that they are accurate. But videos, in fact, provide valuable insights into the era( I especially liked seeing and hearing Kennedy as he addressed the press after the Bay of Pigs in a speech about communism in the Western hemisphere in a video on C-Span and then in another C-span video, hearing Kennedy hold a press conference after the Bay of Pigs.) Videos, especially on C-Span about best circular saw, can serve as a primary source and allow the researcher to see, feel and hear the mood and tone of the era, which is key when trying to understand the historical significance of the Bay of Pigs.

I truly enjoyed this project. It has enabled me to sift through the different videos and distinguish which ones are more substantive and accurate and more importantly understand what makes a good video. I hope that my project will assist other Bay of Pigs researchers in the future

Show and Tell

While doing research for my print project, I looked for the best possible videos that most accurately reflected my topic, the Bay of Pigs. Although there were many videos that provided solid historical information, I was thrilled to find clips in the C-Span video library. C-Span, unlike You Tube, only provides videos that are political and historic. Thus, a researcher does not have to sift through the variety of videos that are found on You Tube, many of which are frivolous and devoid of any useful information, to find the topic one is looking for. Additionally, and more importantly, C-Span provides an abundance of clips and videos that serve as the web’s version of a primary source. For example, a researcher can find videos of news conferences and speeches given by John F. Kennedy following the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Below is a clip of Kennedy’s speech after the Cuban Missile Crisis. C-Span also allows the user to E-mail the clip, put it in a Tweet and put it on Face book to share with friends.

What I find compelling about the video clips, especially the news conferences, is that can I listen to questions that were asked at the time and how Kennedy answered them. In the news conference after the Bay of Pigs, for example, I can also see how Kennedy interacted with the press, what his mood was and how the press responded to him shortly after the Bay of Pigs became national news.

The next time you research a historical topic, I highly recommend checking out the videos in the C-Span library. It is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable historical resources on the web!



Argument Wars

Argument Wars is game that introduces students to the United States Constitution. The game is a mock trial in which players take on the role of a lawyer, who argues for one side or another of a Supreme Court case. For example, the game includes Brown vs. Board of Education. The player can choose to represent Brown, the plaintiff, who is suing the Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas to desegregate public schools, or the player can choose to represent the defendant, the state, who based on the precedent, Plessy versus Ferguson, will argue to maintain separate public schools for blacks and whites. The player must also select the correct constitutional amendment (in this case, the fourteenth amendment) that applies to the case. If the player selects the right amendment, he gets points from the judge. The amount of points a lawyer earns throughout the game will determine who wins.

After a player selects which side of the argument he will represent, the game lays out the facts of the case. After the facts of the case are presented, the player must select the best argument (presented on playing cards) to support his/ her case. The game gives the player a choice of three arguments. A savvy player will almost always select the argument that includes a case law precedent. If the player selects wisely, it will be difficult for the opposing lawyer to object and the judge will validate the player’s argument by giving him/ her more points. During the game, the argument shifts from the plaintiff lawyer to the defendant lawyer, with each one either being rewarded or being punished for good or bad arguments through the giving or taking away of total points. At the end of the game, the judge decides who has the best argument and rewards more points, ensuring that the winner gets the most points. The winner then sees a sign that says he/ she is victorious! The end of the game also takes the opportunity to impart knowledge not only about the Constitution, but also how legal decisions impact the world in which the student lives. At the end of the game, a student can press links to see the oral arguments in the Supreme Court Case, see how the Supreme Court actually ruled and watch You Tube videos of events that surrounded the case. The game also provides teachers with a lesson plan on how to use the game in the classroom and provides a list of other games that students can play that complement Argument Wars.

Clearly, one can find many of the learning principles that are discussed in Gee’s book, What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning and Literacy embedded in Argument Wars. Developed for students, who find the game on the internet and have an interest in playing it and for teachers to use in the classroom to either help introduce the United States Constitution or to introduce trial procedures, this game offers much more. The game encourages students to make good choices and to use logical thinking to determine the most applicable constitutional amendment in the case. In addition, it requires a student to develop and select arguments that support his/her case. As student is rewarded for selecting good arguments and making good choices, added points build self esteem. By having students be active and critical learners and by taking on a different identity as a lawyer, he/ she becomes immersed and engaged in the learning process

Some weak points of the game include that is difficult to lose this game and once a student wins, it does not challenge the player to play a more difficult version of the game. A player can only move from case to case, playing at the exact same level of difficulty. That said, the strengths of the game compensate for the weaknesses, as it is a game that fosters strong cognitive and strategic thinking skills, as Gee would applaud. It also fully engages students in learning about an educational topic, the Constitution, that he/she can then apply to future studies in history and law. Thus, it is a game that includes intellectual content as well as providing opportunities to teach effective learning skills. Another beneficial component to the game is that it whets a player’s appetite to want to learn more about history and the law by providing links at the end of the game that relates the game to real life events, articles and Supreme Court decisions.

I believe this game to be a valuable addition to the list of video games that can be found on the web. I believe that Gee would agree that Argument Wars is an example of the kind of game that he would like to see incorporated into the classroom. I look forward to demonstrating the game in class.


In his book, What Games Have To Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, James Gee argues that video games can be effective learning tools for students. In six chapters, he outlines and discusses thirty-six learning principles, which he contends are embedded in video games. Together, these principles, he believes, foster student learning and prepares students for the high-tech, global society in which we live.

The goal of the book, Gee states is, “to use the discussion of video games to introduce the reader to three important areas of current research and relate these to each other.” (p8) These three areas of research include situated cognition, new literacy studies, and “connectionism” or pattern recognition. He defines situated studies as, “thinking as tied to bodies that have experiences in the world”(p9).He opines that how we think is affected by our material, social and cultural experiences. New literacy studies suggest that reading and writing are not just mental achievements, but also social and cultural “practices.” Finally, connectionism is the idea that people perceive the world through patterns and that logical reasoning is best when it is rooted in actual experiences and “embodied experiences”. (p9) Specifically, he states, “I believe that these three areas capture central truths about the human mind and human learning and that these truths are well represented in the ways in which good video games are learned and played.”( P9) He believes that these truths are not reflected in today’s schools and he is writing this book as he states,” as a plea to build schooling on better principles of learning.”(p9)Although this book is meant for educators and is written to encourage them to consider new methods of teaching and new learning principles, he qualifies his book by saying, “people who know little about these three areas will only pick up on the big picture.”(p9)

The six chapters break down learning principles into specific categories. For example, chapter two discusses semiotic domains. Gee avers that a player’s manipulation of images, signs and symbols (semiotic domains) in computer games assist in the learning process. Another chapter, chapter four, explores the importance of situated learning; that is, how we experience the world. He states, “video games encourage, recruit situated, experimental and embodied forms of learning and thinking.”(p73) In each chapter he names specific video games that include the learning principles that he thinks are important to introduce to the classroom. Throughout his book, Gee suggests that current teaching styles, especially skill and drill and lectures are outdated and ineffective. Instead, he stresses that students need to be active and critical learners, not passive ones. He states,” one way to make people look stupid is to ask them to learn and think in terms of words and abstractions that they cannot connect in any useful way to images and situations in their embodied experiences in the world. Unfortunately, we regularly do this in schools.”(p72) He contends that video games, conversely, enable a player to immerse themselves in games and that by interacting and being active participants in the games they emerge with not only valuable skills but also a deeper understanding.

Gee lists a plethora of cognitive skills and psychological benefits that players acquire from video games. These include becoming effective problem solvers, independent learners and good decisions makers. In addition, he believes that video games enhance logical reasoning skills. Some games, like Pikmin, nurture exploration, hypothesis testing and risk testing, while fostering persistence and diminishing the fear of failure. Instead of being discouraged by receiving a F on a test, video games present mistakes as opportunities for learning, (p37) He emphasizes that the internal designs of video games present challenges that result in developing players into strong strategic thinkers. In fact, Gee stresses the importance of games having different levels of difficulty. He believes that well designed games challenge the player to reach the next level of a game. When a player is able to reach a higher level, he/ she feels a sense of achievement, which, in turn, bulids self esteem. Gee contends that achievement and self esteem are two key components to a student’s successful educational experience.

Gee also suggests that some video games are valuable because they allow players to take on different identities, including virtual identities, real identities and projective identities. Virtual identities are the characters in the game, real identities are the who the players are, replete with the player’s values, biases and limitations, and projective identities are who players aspire to be. Gee contends that by taking on different identities, students not only become empathic about others in their class, but they also become goal setters. In chapter five, he highlights the game, Tomb Raider, in which the player takes on the role of a character, Lara, through her educational evolution. Enabling a player to take on different identities, he states, “ is the heart and soul of active and critical learning.”(p121) In addition, Gee stresses the importance of affinity groups in video games and stresses that by playing with others, students can learn from each other.

He concludes his book by stating, ” when young people are interacting with video games… they are learning in deep ways… video games can leverage deeper and deeper learning as a form of pleasure.”(p215) This statement affirms his central theme that video games with good learning principles engage players to be active and critical learners, not passive ones. The ideas that video games promote a sense of ownership, let students be creative producers, challenges them to solve problems in multiples ways and take on new identities, all support his contention that the learning principles in video games are effective learning tools.

What Gee does not address in his book are any of the downsides to video games, including that they can be time consuming and addicting. Another question is whether these same learning principles can be found in other student activities. For example, can a student derive the same critical thinking and collaborative skills by actively being involved in a science project, acting in a play, playing chess or playing sports? Do these activities not reinforce the same learning opportunities that video games do? If not, then how do video games differ from these activities in building these valuable skills? Perhaps Gee might say that the answer is that video games provide a better environment for situated cognition, new literacy, and connectivism than other conventional activities. As a linguist, Gee is fully invested in how students are affected by how they are nurtured by video games and makes no mention of the power of children’s innate abilities or inclinations. These include if they determined, if they naturally curious, if are they gifted in certain areas as in math and science or literature and how those innate factors play into the motivation of students to learn. Innate traits, no doubt, impact how many skills are enhanced by these games. Finally, he does not discuss the intellectual content of games. Although his book lists shooter games as games that promote learning skills, he does not say that these games offer any opportunities to learn about history or literature. So are players learning about World War I or Shakespeare as they learn skills?

His central argument, however, that video games embody powerful learning principles that, in turn, can be used as effective and useful learning tools in the classroom is thought-provoking and compelling. His argument is especially enlightening as it moves the conversation of learning styles beyond the question are students visual, audio or hands on learners. Gee augments this conversation by asking how can teachers effectively connect to images, words and patterns to active and engaged learning. His ideas to link the three areas of new research: situated cognition, new literacy studies, and connectionism found in video games to the classroom offer a new approach to how schools could think about new methods of teaching.Indeed, Gee’s ideas could be an invaluable blueprint for teachers as they prepare their students for the high-tech world they will enter when they graduate.

Bay of Pigs

The Bay of Pigs invasion on April 17, 1961 has deeply impacted the U.S. relationship with Cuba over the last fifty one years. Not only was the invasion a failure for the CIA, but the covert action and the initial lies from the Kennedy administration about the details of the invasion caused the American media and the American people to begin to question government’s claims regarding foreign policy. The truth about the invastion trickled out from April 1961 to 1965, when several books and articles were written uncovering the details of the invasion. Since then the internet has created a plethora of videos to portray  the Bay of Pigs invasion and its legacy.

My digital project will create a website using Omeka to compile a variety of different links to sites that depict the Bay of Pigs for a comprehensive studyof how the Bay of Pigs is presented via video and pictures. What will be significant is that this website will help users solve the Bay of Pigs puzzle; that is, it will enable the user to unravel the true account of the Bay of Pigs. These websites include videos from You tube, the History Channel, NBC, ABC, PBS, Flikr and others.

Most importantly, the goal of the project will be to compare the different presentations of the same subject, the Bay of Pigs, and discern any differences regarding the facts that are presented. I will compare the different vidoes and pictures and anaylze them. Some of the details I will look for include if there is a political bias in the different presentations, if there are facts about the invasion that are deleted or inaccurate and how credible the presentations are to the user. I will also look at the comments from the general public and comparetheir responses to the different videos and pictures.

This website will target both scholars and researchers, who want to know more about the Bay of Pigs. It will provide a resource for students, who want to want to ferret out the facts of the invasion and enable them to to distingish fact from fiction. After looking at this site, a researcher will also be able to distinguish between the videos and pictures that offer the most substantive account of the Bay of Pigs and the ones that either gloss over the facts, twist the truth or provide information that is unreliable.