Internship Post #6

The course in Digital Public History has been particularly helpful in developing the educational plan for A Right to the City and the accompanying digital exhibit.  Early in the course, Dr. Whisnant encouraged each of us to consider our target audience before beginning any project.  Initially, the target audience for lesson plan development was students in the DC area.  After reviewing DCPS curriculum standards, teachers and students in 12th grade government classes emerged as the clear front runner for the target audience.  Some museum staff pushed for including charter schools in the mix as well, but eventually the interim museum director agreed that keeping the primary audience in sharp focus was best.  By homing in on DCPS Government classes, the education plan had the best chance for leveraging access to larger number of students with one targeted plan.  While working with charter schools is also a noble goal, the diversity of their curricular goals and learner ages would make it difficult to deliver a useful universal lesson plan for these schools.  The partnership with DCPS would also provide a clearer path toward publishing the educational materials through DCPS curriculum guides once the project is complete. This was also another focus of the course in Digital Public History – making sure to have a plan in place for promoting the project once it is produced.

The second takeaway from the DPH course was the importance of story-boarding a project in advance of building it.  I have had more challenges with this aspect of project development because the digital exhibit I am creating was not initially designed with a digital presence in mind.  Furthermore, Storymaps has some unique constraints in terms of layout, especially in the BETA version, making the transformation complicated in some ways.  The museum staff seems to be pleased with Storymaps as a platform, and they have mentioned using it as the digital platform for future exhibits.  As such, my recommendation to them would be to take these considerations into mind when writing introduction texts and saving images in a Storymap friendly format from the beginning.

Finally, I have found that ESRI/ArcGIS seems to be much more of an industry standard when it comes to mapping.  I appreciate that platforms like CartoDB were open source at the time, but it would have been helpful to have more exposure to how mapping and layers and intellectual property standards in ESRI work.  Working with the Storymaps platform has been fairly intuitive, however, and I would recommend it as one of the digital platforms that is taught in the Digital Public Humanities program.  I can see it having real usefulness in early projects and as a powerful tool for teachers and students in the Education courses.

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