Blogs > Cliopatria > A call for help: OAH presentation on history for the Web

Mar 28, 2005 10:26 am

A call for help: OAH presentation on history for the Web

I've noted Paula Petrik's innovative use of blogs in history teaching before. Now she's doing a presentation (on"Crafting history for the Web") in a session entitled"Picture This: Images, Visualization, and Design in History" at the OAH annual meeting, this Saturday (2 April), and she needs your help.

In particular, please take part in an exercise in evaluating six history websites, which should only take a few minutes:

According to available research, most website visitors make their decisions about the credibility or authenticity of the site in 10 seconds or less. The point of this excercise is to evaluate six sites in terms of their credibility or authenticity as a history site. Look at the following sites very briefly (no more than 10 seconds) and make your rating using the poll under the menu.

Then, if you have some time, you can leave more extensive comments about the websites at the Picture This blog. (You don't need to comment on all six sites.)

Your help will be much appreciated! And naturally, if you're going to the OAH meeting, I'll be expecting you to go to the session and give Paula your support...

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Jonathan Dresner - 3/29/2005

No, it doesn't mean anything to me right off the bat. But it does mean that I can do a quick poke around the web or my institution's digital databases to see if the author is any kind of authority. That one looked primary-source rich, and that always rates highly with me, too.

With all due respect to the creators of this test, it needs to be done in something resembling controlled circumstances with actual undergrads, before it tells us anything about what we might need to do to our online materials.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/29/2005

Well, yah, but authorship and provenance is, itself, such an iffy thing. #5 is by Ed Ayres and his cohorts at UVa. I doubt that that means anything to someone in Japanese or early modern studies -- but to Americanists and, particularly, Southernists, it says: this is absolutely first-rate work because we know that Ayres's project is right at the cutting edge of work that can be done on the net. If anything, as one commenter over there noted, the site is just so rich with material that it is almost overwhelming.

Jonathan Dresner - 3/29/2005

I did leave a comment there, to the effect that the first thing I'm looking for, if I'm judging reliability, is provenance and authorship. If I can't see that pretty much on the front page, my evaluation of the site becomes tentative.

Sharon Howard - 3/29/2005

Which was the conclusion I came to (though I did have a go to see what happened), and I left a comment on the blog to pretty much that effect... you might want to add your thoughts there too. (Some of the comments being left there are good and insightful; some are worryingly superficial and simply judge by flashy appearances.) But I don't know what Paula's goal with the 10-second poll in fact is.

Jonathan Dresner - 3/28/2005

I'm not sure what results they're looking for in this exercise, if there's a hypothesis they're specifically testing, but the ten-second rule seems like something we should be training people out of rather than catering to.

K Woestman - 3/28/2005

yes, sorry about the typo!

Sharon Howard - 3/28/2005

Definitely! Although I'm guessing you meant to type that pre-service teachers *comprise* most majors, rather than compromise them. (Unless there's a juicy scandal we haven't yet heard about...)

K Woestman - 3/28/2005

Paula is indeed doing great work with blogs in her classes!

I've found them very useful with pre-service teachers (who compromise most of our majors). Although the blog listed below started with students who took the teaching methods class last fall, they are currently blogging about their professional semester experiences while they are out student teaching. It's worked much better than previous approaches using either formal papers or emails.

Last semester's student teaching reflections can be found here:

It's great insight into what our students face when they are teaching history in the middle and secondary schools.

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