Reflection on the James Monroe Museum Project

While our group experienced some setbacks and had to change our contract, we achieved our objectives in the website we ultimately produced. Our original goal had been to create an Omeka website that contained 3D laser scans of a minimum of five objects at the James Monroe Museum, video interviews with the curator or director about each object, photographs of the objects, and a paragraph description about the history of each object. Overall, we met our goal by successfully creating a 3D laser scan, video interview, photographs, and object information for six objects.

However, we had to change our contract because we found that a WordPress website worked better for our project than an Omeka website. We had originally wanted to use an Omeka website because it uses a Dublin Core metadata system to organize and present information on the webpage about archival material or objects, such as the item’s maker, date, and description. Omeka websites also allow for the object webpages to be organized into online exhibits and collections, so we thought it would be perfect for our project. We realized that we needed to change to a WordPress website when we found out that the Dublin Core metadata system did not closely match the curatorial information system used by the museum and that there was no Omeka plugin to embed 3D laser scans.

Overall, the WordPress website worked much better than the Omeka website because we could embed both the 3D laser scans and the video interviews into each object’s page. Although WordPress did not have a plugin for a museum curatorial system that worked with the one used by the James Monroe Museum, I developed a standardized format for presenting select information from the object files on our website. While the WordPress website ultimately worked better because it allowed us to have the greatest control over the information we presented, I think an Omeka website would have had a better user interface because of the way Omeka websites can create galleries. We created a “Collections” page on our WordPress website, but it was clunky and confusing because the photographs of each objects are not a standard size. We ultimately chose to locate one object photograph per line to create greater clarity, but now users have to scroll more.

The other major issue our group encountered was having to go through a trial-and-error process to figure out which laser scanner we could use. We originally thought we had four options: a portable turntable scanner, an Xbox Kinect scanner, a stationary scanner on campus, and a Structure Sensor scanner for iPads. Ultimately, only the Structure Sensor scanner worked because the portable turntable scanner and the stationary scanner did not include the color of the objects, making them look like lumpy blobs. The stationary scanner was also too difficult to schedule to use and it was too small to handle most of our objects. The Xbox Kinect scanner would have probably worked well for some of the larger objects, but Jonathan was unable to get the software to work on his laptop. The Structure Sensor scanner was not the most ideal because it could not knit two or more scans together like some of the other scanners, resulting in holes in some of the objects where they touched the floor or in their deep crevices. In many ways, the quality of the scans was to be expected given that it was a relatively inexpensive scanner.

The trial-and-error process to learn about the laser scanners resulted in our group falling nearly three weeks behind our schedule, so we decided not to follow the schedule or divisions of labor in our group contract because we could not have gotten the project done in time. Instead of scanning, video recording, and photographing one object per week and having one person be responsible for that object, Jonathan scanned all of the objects and Lila and I did the video recording and photography over the course of several weeks. We did not have to do additional research on the objects or write up information on them because the museum let us use the information from the object files. Jonathan was originally supposed to lead in the video editing, but we did not realize that the 3D scans would also require editing, so Jonathan showed Lila and I how to do the video editing and close captions while he edited the scans and upload them to our SketchFab account. All three of us were still present for the laser scanning and video recordings. We also worked together to create the website. The only other aspect of the contract that we did not complete was linking our website to the James Monroe Museum’s website and using their connections to publicize our project. We did not complete these steps because the museum was too busy to review and approve our project before our deadline. However, the director is interested in linking the websites and taking control of our project at the end of the semester.

In conclusion, we were ultimately successful in creating an online space where people can learn about and interact with objects that were important to James Monroe. Even though our 3D laser scans and video interviews have only been publicly accessible for about a week, people are already viewing them.

Defense of Contract

When my group first wrote our contract at the beginning of the semester, I viewed it as something to be strictly followed, but now that we have completed everything on the document, I see it as a general guide that kept us on track.  To me, our contract seems to be a plan that was written with the best-case scenario for the creation of the website in mind, when we were unaware of the multitude of problems to come.  Of the two major areas on our contract, division of labor and milestones, we seemed to stick to our project as contracted with greater fidelity in regards to the former.

We divided work to be done by each individual member as well as the group as a whole.  As far as individual assignments, we stuck to this part exactly.  We were all individually responsible for things such as scanning the letters, creating PDF versions of the letter transcriptions, uploading the letters to the website, writing biographies of Slaughter and Murray, creating audio recordings of some of the letters, and citing sources.  On the other hand, every group member was supposed to research Slaughter and Murray, work on the introductory video, and create the StoryMapJS for George Murray’s page.  However, some of these tasks, although they were originally intended to be whole groups assignments, ended up being completed by two people each instead of all four.  For example, Kim and Breck, who were responsible for writing the biographies of Murray and Slaughter respectively, did all the research on these two men.  Also, Breck and I put the StoryMap together.  Even though the entire group was supposed to help with these two things, it seemed to be better that this was not the case.  With the research, there were so few sources of information that we all would have ended up with the same thing, so Kim and Breck easily managed it.  With the StoryMap, each location leads into the next, so it was easier to have one person (me) look at all the letters and figure out Murray’s movements from one place to another so it flowed well, and another (Breck) go through and contextualize the battles Murray fought in.

The part of our contract that we did not follow very closely was the milestones section.  We had ten milestones total and were able to meet five of them on time, completed three of them a few days behind schedule, and were two to three weeks late with the remaining two.  Looking back, many of the dates we set for ourselves seem unrealistic because we were unfamiliar with our website’s platform, Omeka, and various other software we used, such as Audacity and Final Cut Pro.  We were able to make five deadlines on time, which included scanning the letters, creating PDFs of the transcriptions, taking photos of Slaughter’s grave and Murray’s uniform, reading the letters to check the transcriptions for typos, creating exhibits for the letters, and turning in the site to Dr. McClurken.  However, due to our unfamiliarity with Omeka, some confusion with our “Item Order” plugin, and the upload time for each individual tiff file (10-15 minutes), it took us a few weeks past our deadline to get all the letters uploaded.  We had originally thought the Murray letters needed to be uploaded first, but once we figured out they did not, we were already very behind by the time Slaughter’s were published.  Because digitizing the letters and putting them on the site was the bare minimum, we wanted to get this done first, which set us back as far as completing other tasks, such as the StoryMap and introductory video.  The StoryMap was also completed a few weeks late because it involved looking at all sixty-four letters, but the video, although it took more time than we thought, was up about six days after the original milestone.  The audio recordings were also completed about six days after the original date because we had some communication problems about which letters to record.  Lastly, the bibliography had grown so much after we completed the video that we were about four days late in finishing it.  Overall, the problem with missing our milestones was that once we missed one due to technical problems, it became difficult to make up the lost time while also continuing with the other tasks, as we had other classes to complete work for, so it snowballed.  But, we were able to successfully complete everything with plenty of time and I am very pleased with the way the site turned out!

Reflection on James Monore 3D Project

After months of planning and attending meetings, recording videos, taking pictures,capturing 3D images, editing digital footage and creating a website through WordPress, my group successfully produced a website featuring 3D scans, videos, object-file information and still images of six objects at the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library.

Our journey to complete the website included some successes and some challenges.

We were successful at finding a plugin to embed the 3D file on our WordPress website and every week we were able to rent a videocamera,tripod, iPad scanner and camera from the school to complete our project. We also did a good job of communicating as a group using group text messages and meeting  at the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library and in the computer labs at the HCC to complete our project outside the classroom.

Unfortunately, throughout the course of our project we also had some challenges. It took us a few weeks to capture the first 3D scan because we had to learn how to use the scanner and the first scanner we tried to use did not meet our expectations and the second scanner we attempted to use did not work. Luckily, the third scanner we attempted to use, the iPad scanner, worked to our satisfaction and was a successful capture of a 3D rendering of a museum object. Also, we were not able to host our website on Omeka as we had initially planned, so we generated our website using WordPress.

In addition to the successes and challenges we encountered during the semester we also had to accommodate for some changes. While we had proposed in our group contract that our website would become part of the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library Website, we did not received permission from the museum, therefore, our website will not be directly linked to the main website. Although we did provided multiple links on our website to the museum’s website for easy access to internet users to encourage them to visit the museum. Additionally, we did not arrange to link our website to social media platforms or to historical organizations as we had planned in our group contract. Throughout the course of the semester many changes were made with regards to the division of labor. While our contract said, “one person is in charge of 3D uploads and working on the object files”, these two tasks were completed by Jon and Mary respectively. Also, in addition to recording the videos, Mary and I also edited and wrote close captioning for all but one of the videos, we took photographs of the objects, and we communicated  with Dr. Meadows, Mr. Kearney and Mr. Harris by email throughout the semester. All group members assisted in the editing process and the web design.

In conclusion, I believe that while we had successes, challenges, and changes to our group contract about the website we were ultimately successful in creating a interactive website of 3D scans, videos, and still pictures of six objects from the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library.  We created a website accessible to and for students, teachers, researchers to enjoy. I think that this website will encourage people to visit the  James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library  view the six objects we included in our website in person.

Hurley Convergence Center Project Reflection

It has been a long fourteen weeks constructing the Hurley Convergence Center project. We had our fair share of road blocks along the way, but that didn’t stop us as group from creating a website greater than we originally imagined. We ended up using just about every tool listed in our proposal except for Audacity and SoundCloud, but there is a reason for that. We decided to get some training in the Advanced Media Production Studio and eventually recorded all of the interviews with the HD cameras and high quality microphones provided. This helped our website appear more professional while also showing off one of the many resources available in the HCC at the cost of taking a bit longer with editing the footage.

We were able to meet most of the weekly milestones relatively early. The WordPress theme that we all agreed to use made mobile integration rather easy, so the rest of that week was focused on the timeline and the documents given to us by our interviewee, John Morello. We had a bit of trouble meeting Week 3/11’s milestone because of interviewees cancelling or rescheduling, but as you may have seen from our various blog posts and presentations, we ended up getting them all finished earlier than we expected anyway. We even completed an extra interview and recorded plenty of short walk-through videos for the resources of the HCC while we had the time.

We couldn’t have done this without working together and dividing up the work evenly among ourselves. Marissa did a wonderful job at contacting and scheduling meetings for the people we needed to interview or ask for some feedback on the current build of our website. Andrew did an amazing job putting together the pages of the website and a rather informative timeline. Jon did a great job creating the transcripts and always making sure the equipment worked in the Advanced Media Production Studio. My main jobs were editing the videos, being at every interview to make sure everything recorded well, and working with Andrew on the website. I have faith in my editing skills, so I believe the videos turned out really well.

I stand by the Hurley Convergence website that we created together. We were assigned to create a website documenting the history of the building, but we proposed an idea for a website that went even further than that, thanks to Kyle Allwine from Admissions. A website that not only told the story of how the building came to be, but one that appealed to students, faculty, staff, and possible university applicants by displaying the various resources available in the building that can be used by anyone. If the website by chance doesn’t have what you are looking or you just want even more information and possibly want to schedule a time with the tutors, we linked to the Convergence Center website that has everything else that you could possibly need. Even if you want to look at all of the files that we studied for yourself,  you can download them by following the links to the MEGA online storage on our website and learn everything about the building and its history.

When I first came into this class in January, I never thought the website that I was assigned to create with my group would turned out as great and mind blowing as it did. I have the resources in the HCC to thank for giving me the possibility to achieve what we did. I want to close off saying that I do hope that Admissions changes their minds about our website and decide to use it as an advertisement tool for the university in the future. If not, that is fine. I am sure plenty of faculty and staff associated with the HCC will recommend our site to students and it makes me happy knowing that students will be using it.

Week #14

During the final week of the semester my group members and I edited the website in accordance with Dr. McClurken’s suggestions. Additionally, we sent elite invitations for the April 22nd presentation to staff members at the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library including Mr. Harris and Mr. Kearney and Dr. Meadows. Also, my group members and I prepared a Google Slides presentation for the April 22nd History and American Studies Symposium and assigned specific pages to each group member. Finally, I bought thank you notes and a gift for the staff at the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library and Dr. Meadows who have helped us complete our website project to express our appreciation and our gratitude.

HCC Final Project Reflection

After a semester of planning, organizing, and finalizing our project, we finally have a complete website. Our job was to document the history and development of the Hurley Convergence Center, and we used a contract to help us plan the steps. We started off defining the mission, so that the rest of our project could be focused with specific goals in mind. Our overall purpose was to bring awareness to the building’s features to, both the UMW community and those interested in joining our community. To accomplish this goal our team intended to build a website that would serve as a repository of documents and facts about the building, as well as host video interviews with the individuals primarily responsible for the HCC’s construction and development.

Initially, we met with Kyle Allwine from Admissions to get input on what they would like to see the website accomplish. We received helpful feedback from him which helped us focus more on the audience we would be presenting to. We then took a tour of the HCC to learn more about each room and some of the significant features and capabilities of the building, as well as conducted our own research ourselves. We then spent weeks conducting interviews with committee members who were involved with the development and decision making of the building. We used the Advanced Media Production Studio to film these interviews, after completing a training session which allowed each of us to use the room without staff supervision. We interviewed eight people total; President Richard Hurley, John Morello, Jerry Slezak, Martha Burtis, Cartland Berge, Hall Cheshire, Rosemary Arneson, and Jeff McClurken. Each of these interviewees gave us a unique perspective on all that went into the planning and execution of the building. We also conducted a video walkthrough of the rooms in the building that showcase its technology, features, and resources.

Our website includes a list of the student resources that building has, including a short explanation and video. We also made a timeline on the construction of the building. The video interviews we conducted, including transcripts, additional archives we obtained, and a bibliography crediting all those involved in the completion of our project, are also found on our website.

Overall, I am very proud of our final project. The website looks better and is more organized than I could have imagined. My main role consisted of setting up interviews by emailing the list of interviewees, and booking time to use the Advanced Media Production Studio during the times we needed it. In order to coordinate all of this, I began emailing prospective interviewees at the beginning of the semester to be sure that we would have enough time to interview everyone. Having more of a business background, I helped my group decide what audience we should aim our project at. I also assisted my group in the planning, organization and design of the final website. To date, our site has had almost 700 views, the most in one day being 164. I would say this is just one sign of the success for our website. I am proud to have been involved in a project that has such important meaning for my school, as well as me personally. The construction of the HCC was completed halfway through my college career, and it has made a significant impact on my academic experience. I am honored to have helped present the history of a building that has so much meaning to me, fellow classmates, UMW faculty and staff, and members of the surrounding community.

A link to our website is found below:

http://explorehcc.umwhistory.org

Presentation Prep

Tomorrow is the big day for our websites. My group spent the last few days making sure everything was fixed before the big presentation. We originally thought the edits would take a lot of time fixing, but we ended up finishing most of them Tuesday evening.

I honestly believe that the presentation tomorrow will be a piece of cake for all of us. Everyone in class was  assigned to give a presentation just about every week, so that experience will definitely make the final presentation that much easier. It’s almost like Professor McClurken planned this from the start.

I wish everybody luck and I can’t wait to see the final versions of the other websites

Last Weekly Update

So this is it… the website is done and looking good so far.  Final comments do not appear to have gone up yet (or at least, I did not see any when I was checking the site) so while I am waiting for that, I cannot help but feel that it has been such a short time since we began four months ago.  We got a lot done in that short time though, from the uploaded letters, to the videos, to the voice overs.  I’ll talk more about that in the final final post though. For now, all that’s left is the final presentation on Friday; while I am not looking forward to the formal aspect of it, the presentation itself should not be difficult.  I just need to rehearse and make sure I know what I am saying.  We have gotten this far, I am sure we can see this through to the end on Friday.

Completion of Final Project

After weeks of planning, interviewing, and collecting information, we have finally completed our final website. My group members and I are very pleased with how it turned out. The project turned out better than I even envisioned it. Our website is user-friendly, organized, educational, and aesthetically-pleasing. The next step is making final edits Professor McClurken gave us. These include grammar edits and adding appropriate source information. After that, we will be ready to present our project at the History and American Studies Symposium this Friday. We will discuss the process of how we put together our project, including the proposal, the tour of the HCC, the interviews, the HCC walkthrough, and the final website.

Done

Last week into this past weekend, we have completed and handed in our final website project. This semester went by so fast, so fast. I guess in part due to the amazing group, that had time flying by. The project was time consuming and some mornings/interviews felt cumbersome at first, but always managed to surprise. A building never seemed so intricate, then when you study its origins, features, and documentations. I hope that our work will, and can be used for many different aspects of future. We handed in our project over the weekend, and have received the corrections needed back. We have a lot of tidying up, with small or overlooked aspects. I am heavily impressed with the thoroughness Professor McClurken has taken for our web page. I am positive it will be that much more impressive and rewarding in the end. Can’t wait for what lies ahead.