I’m sitting in a classroom in our School of Public Policy today participating in our “Doing Digital History.” workshop. With me are eighteen other people all very interested in creating the next wave of digital history projects. These folks have been at it since Monday, but this is the first time I’ve been able to take part in the meetings.
Because of the ungodly traffic of the greater DC area, I made it for the 11:00 am session–a presentation on design by Jeremy Boggs, one of the more talented web designers working in the academic environment at the moment. When you get to the presentation page, just click on the screen to see his slides–there is no obvious link to click. Like most such presentation slides, they don’t give you anything more than the scaffolding of his remarks, but it will give you (a) a good idea of what he’s up to with design at the moment and (b) his design chops.
We’re putting some serious stress on the electrical grid and the wireless router, because all but one of the people in the room is online with their laptop. One of the odd features of that is the new way that we “listen” at a presentation. I’m listening, but blogging (and I’m willing to bet at least one other person in the room is also blogging this). Others are flitting from website to website as Jeremy talks about about them. So, our eyes are flitting up and down–from screen to presenter, to screen, and back.
During the session, one of the members of the group posted a link to this color scheme generator in the blog for the conference. Not only is this a great tool for general design work, but it is also an easy way to look at your design through the eyes of someone with visual impairment or color blindness. And for those of you who need more CSS, try the Zen Garden, a great place to see what various style sheets can do for one webpage.
In the afternoon session, I got to introduce the participants to some of the digital history projects I’ve been working on since I arrived at CHNM in 2001. The goal of this part of the workshop was to generate a discussion around the intersection of digital history and teaching and learning. The sites I showed were World History Sources, Women in World History, the Webography Project, and the 1989 project. A lot of our discussion centered around how students use digital resources and it was fun to discuss this in an audience that was already predisposed to what I had to say. More often, I have to approach this topic from the standpoint of convincing the skeptics.