Project Ideas–Beaudouin

Outside of AU, I’m a tutor with an organization that takes homeschooled kids in the DC area to various local art museums. While there, the students are given essay prompts and write about the wide array of artwork they observe on any given week. As great as this organization is, they’re a bit stuck in the past when it comes to technology; there’s no centralized website and their only means of communication is through email. In many ways they’re actually quite disorganized. Over the past week I’ve been toying with a few ideas on how these issues could be remedied.

One of my initial ideas would be to create a centralized blog on which the students could post their essays and comment on their peers’ work. There’s very little “classroom interaction” the way things are now—it would be great if they could see what their classmates are working on. This blog could include links to a variety of teaching resources as well.

Since most of these kids are 13-18, I’ve also been thinking about how social media could be used for their benefit. Almost assuredly most of these kids are on Facebook or Twitter—why couldn’t this be used as an educational resource? The handful of tutors that work at this organization only get to see the kids once a week. Why couldn’t there be a joint-run Facebook group/Twitter account that the kids could use to ask questions during their writing process?

These kids don’t get to see their classmates that often and I believe that bringing any form of digital interaction to their learning experience could only help.


Semi-relavent blog post theme music

For my digital history project, I’d like to use maps to tell a visual story of a historical event. Currently, I’d like to catalog the creation of American land boundaries over time, complete with interactivity and information about what’s happening.

I got this idea from an exposé on Zeit – a Deutche newspaper – in which a German politician got his cellular records and gave them to Zeit to turn into a story. The implementation is amazing, and would be a fun and challenging learning experience both from a historical and technological perspective. This project would combine the linear, informative nature of blogs with the interactivity and open-endedness of online mapping.

All of the components needed to develop a project of this nature are well-documented through open mapping services like Google or MapBox. Research on historical borders and the stories behind why and how boundaries were created are probably Wikipedia articles available through Library of Congress, for example.

Project Ideas

I am interested in creating a website that describes/highlights/distills the experiences that visitors of World War I French battlefield sites have posted online. As I would expect to find many visitor experiences written in French, I see my potential project as a method for the translation of stories, experiences, and World War I battlefield histories by French visitors into English so that curious online viewers can better understand how visitors of French World War I battlefields reacted to their experiences. I would expect to delve into French online tourist sites and hopefully improve my francais during the project.

My second idea pertains to researching online blogs and discussion boards from nonacademic websites regarding people’s views and debates about either the American Revolution or the Civil War. I am interested in finding out the discourses that hobby historians are having online outside of academia and finding out their points of view and hopefully their sources. I would expect my project to feature many debates surrounding military battles as many American military veterans enjoy reading and posting about historical battles, tactics, and strategy.

Project Ideas

I’ve been working with Ford’s Theatre for the past year and this February they will open their new Center for Education and Leadership next door to the Petersen House. One project I’ve been thinking is one my boss seems to be throwing around. We’re going to be collecting user-generated web content, videos, comments, and I’d like to try to find an engaging way to collect and manage that content.

A second project I’d like to take a look at is public memory surrounding the Battle of Gettysburg, using comments and insights from travel sites (Yelp, TripAdvisor etc.) in addition to heritage sites (Sons of Confederate Veterans, Grand Army of the Republic).

I was also considering starting a blog that allowed new public history students and graduating public historians who want to work in education to come together and share ideas, books, job postings, and advice.


Potential Projects

Currently I have 3 ideas that I’m playing around with…

1) The creation of a collection of maps that pinpoint the locations of monuments relating to specific historical events or times. For example, one map may show all monuments and memorials in DC that relate to American Wars and another map may show all monuments and memorials that display or relate to the Founding Fathers.

2) Building a timeline which displays the focuses of Presidential Inauguration speeches or State of the Union Addresses through the use of visual programs such as Wordle.

3) Create a digital exhibit of the historical memorials and monuments located on the grounds of the United States Military Academy. I would also include small descriptions of the pieces and place them in an order through which the history of West Point can be explained.