No man is an island, no place is a point

Rebecca Davis, my former colleague at NITLE, just hosted a Google+ discussion on possible ways that map-based stories can support student learning.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to join them, so I’m glad that she’s posted a summary of the session.

Linking place with narrative is central for spatially-focused digital humanities efforts.  Their comments on how to make projects collaborative are particularly important ones.  The tools themselves support collaboration by design, but managing that within an instructional setting requires careful forethought and planning.  As you’re designing the assignment, think through how you may separate content from technology knowledge. Don’t leave it to chance.  Like any group project, divide and conquer through chunks or phases. Train all students with the technologies, then allow for and recognize the natural tech leaders that will come to the forefront.  Provide them structured opportunities to help their peers.  Looks for ways to customize every possible aspect of the project, from on-the-ground field work to specially designed icons. Everyone naturally gravitates towards the visual media with these tools. Don’t overlook the audio possibilities, whether it’s music associated with the project as a whole, an overall narration, or authentic voices from the people of the place.  Experiment with lines and area (polygons) as indicators of locations too. No man is an island, no place is a point.

To move beyond tacking your info over someone else’s pre-digested map may eventually require dedicated programming efforts, but I’m certain we haven’t reached the ceiling for creative projects with simple tools.

Esri has a new page dedicated to Map(ping) Stories too.

The NEH is hosting two different Institutes this summer for those with grand ideas:

1) Spatial Narrative and Deep Maps: Explorations in the Spatial Humanities, at IUPUI in Indiana, and

2) Digital Cultural Mapping: Transformative Scholarship and Teaching in the Geospatial Humanities, at UCLA.

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