We finally finished our PEAK project investigating the distances between courting couples in Clay County from 1901 and 1921. To view our full project check out our COSS presentation. COSS, the Celebration of Student Scholarship, is held annually by Concordia College to showcase student works and presentations. Due to Covid-19, Concordia decided to host COSS online, allowing students to submit virtual presentations. For our project, we had already planned on doing a digital StoryMap, but also chose to create a short video presentation.
The changes due to Covid-19 are certainly inconvenient, but I am glad that COSS is still being held even with the new format. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the projects converted their presentation to work virtually especially from a digital history stand point because now all of the projects would fit into this category. Because all of the presentations are now digital, we have to evaluate them differently. We can’t follow our normal guidelines for public speaking and poster presentations so how should we judge them? Well, earlier in our class we discussed guidelines for digital history reviews which could be applied to this scenario. This helps us categorize the projects and evaluate their success.
Looking at our project, we have three parts: the StoryMap, the ArcGIS map application, and the video presentation. All three of these could fall under the “Essay, Exhibit, Digital Narrative” section as they were created specifically for a digital presentation of data. The ArcGIS map could also be considered under the “Tool” designation as it is an application used to access our data.
Now that we know what we are looking at we can move on to actually evaluating our project. As given by the Digital History Review guide. our rubric should be based around 5 sections: Content, Design, Audience, Digital Media, and Creators. I will evaluate them in this order.
Content: Seeing as we just recently finished this project, I would say our project is about as current as it can be. Our data and analysis are current to this semester. The only older information would be our research on courting and marriage on the 1900s, but we tried to use the best resources available with current and accurate information.
Personally, it is hard to judge how well our content is communicated because I have been looking at our data all semester and have a strong bias. To me, our presentation is clear and easy to understand but this is really up to our viewers to judge. If you take the time to look over our project, feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think!
Design: The StoryMap platform is great when it comes to design. Our StoryMap in my opinion, looks really nice and professional. It is organized well, and the pictures are perfect thanks to HCSCC. The information is presented in a logical order and leads right to the maps and graphs of our data. The maps and links work as expected. However, On the mobile version, in order to access the maps you have to open them in a new tab. While it’s an extra step, I don’t think it’s a downside because it gives you a larger version that is easier to use.
Because we are using a designed platform, I can’t claim that the design of our project is necessarily original. Although we probably have a very similar design to other StoryMaps, It doesn’t feel repetitive or copied. I think the design works well and everything put together makes it our own personalized project.
I also can’t argue that our StoryMap is super accessible. On the mobile version, you can’t really zoom or anything to make the text bigger. Maps like our can also be hard to use for some. I think a good feature to add would be a built in text to speech function. I know a lot of people who need this have external applications to help with this, but I have no way of testing how this works with our presentation and I just think it would be a good thing to have available for anyone. Our video on the other hand is a bit better in this aspect. I’m not positive but I’m pretty sure that it is going to be uploaded to a COSS YouTube channel so there will be features available to change the video speed or add captions. We also have a transcript available that we can share will COSS to add as well.
Audience: It’s hard to choose a specific audience just because we want our project to reach anyone who might be interested. However, the digital functions and inclusion in COSS will help us reach college students, especially those in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
Digital Media: Thanks to ArcGIS, we were able to create digital maps that are extremely helpful and more useful than print versions. Our maps are interactive and easier to use because they are digital. Our project in general is easier to access because it is online and interested views can use the links provided to investigate on their own which is harder to promote in print. If someone looks at are project and grows interested in ancestry and census work they can use our links to Heritage Quest and Family Search to start their own research.
Creators: we got really lucky when it came to creators. Our class is made up of students from many different backgrounds. Dustin Steedsman is a computer science major and his knowledge of technology was very helpful to our project and the transitions to online schooling. Jarret Mans has previous experience with ArcGIS and was responsible for the creation of our maps. There’s no way our project would have gone as smoothly without him. We have a lot of history majors in our class that were important for our research, especially Heidi Fods who along with Lexi Johnson did all of the research on courting trends. Hanna Haeg did a lot of research on individuals. Samara Stroodman took the reigns on the StoryMap and was able to lead everyone through creating it. Josh Olson, with his business background helped a lot with the organization and presentation side of things. Our professor, Dr. Lintelman was invaluable in mentoring us and giving advice to help us work through everything. And while it may seem like grunt work, we all put a ton of work into looking up names and getting our data together. Without the work of all of us together we wouldn’t have gotten this project done and ready to present in time for COSS.
Like all projects, there were definitely things we could have done better and more work that could be done. However, given the time and resources available to us, I think we did really well. At this point it’s up to the viewers to judge. I think that as a class we should be proud of our work and everything that we’ve learned in the process.