Omeka of One’s Own

One of the recurring concerns/complaints surrounding the Domain of One’s Own project is the inescapability of WordPress. Most students and faculty on OU Create and other Domains projects use WordPress sites, either for personal portfolios or class blogs. As a counterpoint, I wanted to feature a few of the Omeka sites that that have been built on OU Create in the past few months.

OmekaLogoLike WordPress, Omeka is a php based platform with a one-click installer in Reclaim Hosting environments. Unlike WordPress, Omeka is not built for blogging but rather for cataloguing. Omeka is particularly useful for collecting meta-data about documents, images, movies, baseball cards, or other media. It was originally developed and is still maintained by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

Below are screenshots of several OU projects along with the creators’ descriptions of each. You can click on the image to go to the project’s site.

Water

The Carl Albert Center’s Local Digital History Lab is a project based initiative that focuses on preserving history and highlighting important policy issues in the state of Oklahoma. It combines the archival resources at the Center with materials and experiences donated by the public. The first series of lab events focus on the intersection between environment, extreme weather, and public policy in the state.

Each lab bolsters connections between archival collections and the communities they serve. The events also contextualize important issues by organizing community digitization events and making harvested materials available to the public online.

The site features archival materials made available by the Carl Albert Center Congressional and Political Collections, the City of Tulsa Engineering Services Department, and members of the public. It includes over 4,000 pages of digitized text, 255 photographs, 90 maps, and over 100 minutes of oral history.

New Deal

The United States changed rapidly during the 1930s in response to a series of economic, environmental, and social factors. The Great Depression transformed the relationship between the national government and its citizens. The physical landscape was also altered through massive public works projects and conservation initiations. Moreover, this was one of the richest periods of creative cultural activity the nation has seen.

Created by students at the University of Oklahoma, this site documents and explores the 1930s and its enduring legacies in Oklahoma. Please explore the digital exhibits and collection of photographs, documents, videos, and maps discovered and created during the research process.

Visit the About This Project Page to learn about the creation of the site.

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One of the professors from the Making Modern America project, David Wrobel, has continued his use of Omeka in a follow up class on John Steinbeck’s literature. Working again with librarian extraordinaire Sarah Clayton, Dean Wrobel’s students are putting together exhibits examining the various facets of Steinbeck’s work from his travels, to his work on the War and his relationship with Oklahoma.

VITAL

Videos for Italian Teaching and Learning is a curated database of openly available videos. Daniela Busciglio and her collaborators are collecting and tagging videos to help students work on various grammatical and thematic concepts. By sharing these videos online, Daniela can share these resources with undergraduates at OU, and with learners of all levels and at all schools.

Women's Advocacy Network

In January 2017, 13 members of WAN’s Gulu subgroup worked with faculty and students from the University of Oklahoma to conduct a “Photovoice” project. Photovoice is a method that combines the power of photography with critical group reflection to interrogate everyday aspects of life.

The project began with each WAN participant creating individual photos intended to show elements of daily life, including both life-giving aspects, but also significant challenges. Many participants chose to recreate memories from life in captivity. Others focused on how they live now. After the individual photography, the participants used the photos to teach each other about their own perspectives and to discuss common themes and desires for change in northern Uganda. The exhibit presents photos from each participant along with her personal statement.

The goals of the both the project and this exhibit are twofold. First, the photographs are meant to teach the viewer about the participants’ lives, their concerns, and their desires for change.  Second, the project is intended as an opportunity for the participants to reflect on their priorities and WAN’s activities aimed at improving conditions for women in post-conflict northern Uganda.

Documentary Narrative

Focusing on the history of race and education in Oklahoma, students will utilize this platform to gather and discuss primary sources that inform the rich and complicated history of the state around schooling concerns. For students engaging in historical projects, it is essential to critically examine not only literature that informs our field, but similarly engage in research projects within classes that will put theory into practice. This course, Documentary and Narrative, examines problems and methods of non-empirical/non-experimental research in history of education.  Particular attention will be paid to qualitative methods that collect data from documents, from oral history interviews, and from observations and experiences in settings that utilize approaches related to case study and narrative inquiry techniques.  Use of primary and secondary sources, field notes, and case study applications are discussed along with the roles that the researcher plays in terms of generalization and interpretation. Similarly, this platform will facilitate conversations on ways to engage in historical research that informs the evolving technological changes we are witnessing today, as a vital conversation on the survival of the field.

Making Conferences Fun

I am currently helping to organize a couple of conferences and am trying to think about what I have enjoyed about conferences in the past. I don’t typically remember the talks at a conference as much as the un-planned stuff. I met Ben Scragg over dinner at OLC and have considered him my food guru ever since. I remember watching Keegan lure people into playing a Switch game where they milk cows. At InstructureCon, Keegan and I attended a board game night that filled an entirebuilding. My fondest memories are of exploring Washington DC with my future wife and Prague with my friend John Perkins.

Picture of me and my future wife from Washington DC, 2007

With all that in mind here are a couple of ideas I’m pitching for the upcoming conference season. Let me know if these sound good and also what other things you would include in an ideal conference.

1. Healthier food and activities 

I feel like conferences are usually sort of gluttonous with buffet lines and eating out every night and all. Having healthy snacks and lunch options would be good and I remember there being some healthy options last year. Similarly, morning group activities like yoga and runs could be informally organized or we could work with the conference center. Outdoor activities like lawn games could be fun too and give people a way to get moving midday. If they already have an area like this at the conference center, we could flag it in handbooks and encourage people to hang out there.

2. Breakout room type activities

I feel like breakout rooms aren’t quite over yet and might be a good group activity. There are things you can do with boxes rather than actually locking people in a room that make it possible to set this up in any conference space, and there are also digital break out activities that we could run across the conference center.

3. Game night

I’d like to use one of the conference spaces to have a game night with board games and video games. We could also include some online games for the virtual attendees. I think this might help people meet others at the conference and just be a fun thing to do.

4. Craft maker space

A place with rocking chairs and work tables where you can sit and knit or make bracelets or paint or whatever would be a nice relaxation and meeting thing. We could probably even provide some supplies for fairly cheap.

5. Unconference space for hands-on computer coding and tool workshops 

I’m envisioning a small space where 10-12 people could meet at a time. On the outside of the space people could stick up post it notes or write on a glass wall or whiteboards or whatever as to the types of hands on workshops that they want. We could poll people ahead of time using social media to plan the events for the first day. Every hour or so a volunteer would lead people through WordPress, Omeka, Drupal, HTML Coding, Slack, or Canvas LMS training or whatever else they ask for. During the first day as people throw up new ideas, we also try to encourage people to sign up to lead those events and then recruit to fill whatever events need to be filled. 

6. Livestreaming

I’ve got a couple of people in mind who have live streaming / life streaming experience who might be willing to stream their whole conference experience. If they could also do a workshop on the first day on how to do this and how to do light-weight versions of this (taking photos and sharing them on Instagram, Twitter streaming, etc) , we might be able to get other people to join in. This will take up a large amount of bandwidth, so we may need to either find someone willing to use their data, or figure out someway to pay for data.

My Tables are Awesome

This past spring, I was having a conversation with Mia ZamoraAlan Levine, and Keegan Long Wheeler about the NetNarr course. Alan was putting together a table for a website that looked really slick, and when I asked what tool he was using, he said Awesome Tables. Four months later, I’m obsessed.

I am particularly susceptible to the charm of Awesome Tables, because I subscribe to the Tom Woodward school of using Google Sheets for everything. Awesome Tables adds a second sheet to a google spreadsheet. This second sheet has cells containing html, css, and js code, all of which format your data into an interactive table. Here’s the table that my Projects page is running:


Here’s the Google spreadsheet driving it. You can see the data on the first sheet and the code on the second.

I’m excited about this stuff for a couple of reasons:

  1. You can use the second sheet to work through basic website programming with real data and see the results by refreshing the table. I could see using this in a class to teach some basic web coding.
  2. There are about a dozen pretty nice templates built so it’s easy to quickly turn a spreadsheet into a decent looking database.
  3. Google Sheets is powerful because of the ability to use google scripts to collect data. You can use HTTP GET calls to mine data and standard javascript to parse the xml or json files into the rows of the table. You can also POST to google sheets from other web apps or use 3rd party services like Zapier or IFTTT to link it with other web apps with APIs.

There are other ways to build similar tables with bootstrap or even raw html and css, but Awesome Tables is fairly easy to use and embed. The connection between the data and the output is fairly intuitive and easy to manipulate.

By way of example of what you can do quickly and easily, here are a couple of Awesome Tables that I’ve been working on in the last couple of weeks:

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