Ontario Extend mOOC – Module 4

Teamwork makes the dream work with two cats giving high-fives

I’m currently participating in the eCampus Ontario Extend mOOC focused on technology enabled learning.  As part of this medium sized Open Online Course (mOOC) it was suggested that participants keep an ongoing set of notes to document and organize their thoughts about the experience.  As a way to document my experience I’m going to be keeping informal blog notes that reflect on what I’m learning and the activities I’m engaging in via the mOOC.

Module 4 of the mOOC is called “Collaborator” and is focused on connecting with other instructors, building personal learning networks, and the benefits of collaboration. I’ll be working through this module’s activities this week and will be sharing my work below as I complete it:

Continue reading Ontario Extend mOOC – Module 4

Spreadsheet Beauty: Organizing The Things

laptop on table with excel sheet on screen

As is likely evident by a lot of my recent posts, I’ve been doing a lot of collaborative writing and research recently.  A huge chunk of this collaborative writing has been with my co-conspirator colleague Andrea Eidinger of Unwritten Histories. Andrea and I have a lot of project ideas and discussions about things we should work on.  Late in 2018 we decided that we needed to start keeping track of all these brilliant ideas in a more formal way.  Enter the spreadsheet to end all spreadsheets – or at least the spreadsheet to organize our collaborative writing projects. Continue reading Spreadsheet Beauty: Organizing The Things

Historical Reminiscents EP 35: Approaching Collaboration

Two lego stormtroopers holding hands. right side reads: Episode 35 Approaching Collaboration.

Collaboration is becoming more and more common in the workplace and in academia.  However, collaborative work practices aren’t something that are typically emphasized in humanities graduate programming. In today’s episode I talk about the impact of collaboration on scholarship and how to reach out to potential collaborators.

I would love to hear other perspectives on the value of collaboration within academia and public history, leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
-Lynne Siemens, “More Hands Means More Ideas: Collaboration in the Humanities
-Seth Denbo, “Whose Work Is It Really?
– Christine Saidi, Catherine Cymone Fourshey, and Rhonda M. Gonzales “When Historians Collaborate, Scholarship Benefits”

Download or listen now.

Building Bridges and Reading Across Disciplines

black and white Drone view of San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge.

During one of my recent writing projects I started thinking about the implications of disciplinary silos and the value to reading across disciplines. A lot of my work is grounded in archival theory and public history practice, however it often intersects with the Canadian academic history profession.  From an outsider differentiating these three disciplines may seem like splitting hairs, but they really are proudly different in their approaches and literature.

A lot of my recent work has been thinking about archival silences and the power relationships entrenched in colonial archival spaces. This power dynamic and the challenge of doing research about historically marginalized communities is something that intersects across archival practice, public history, and academic history.  I started diving into this topic by examining archival theory and literature written by archivists. I then expanded to look at community based perspectives and a more public history take on archival voices.  Lastly, after consulting with a couple of colleagues I added a stack of Canadian history books and articles to my to read pile.

This exercise in reading across disciplines was enriching and helped broaden my understanding of the topic it hand.  It also highlighted how fields can approach the same topic from very different angles.  Many of the archival based works I was reading focused on the role of the archivist in creating or mitigating silence within the historical process.  The more public history leaning works focused on communities challenging silence, the right to internal community memory, and ways to build bridges across shared pasts.  Conversely, the more academic history reads were really focused on subverting archival silences – reading against the grain, using non-traditional archival sources to expand historical narratives, and how to overcome lack of records.  All of these areas of interest had overlapping points and areas of commonality.

These areas of similarity struck me as so important. Archivists and historians need to talk more.  Understanding how archives work and the intellectual/emotional/physical labour that goes into making archival records accessible is so important. Historians and media indicating that something was ‘discovered in the archives’ erases the archival labour that went into arranging and describing that material.  The archivist knew it was there and did a lot of work so a historian could access that material as part of their research.  Historians and archivists have definite overlapping interests and we would be better served by increasing the amount of work we did collaboratively.

What are your strategies for reading across disciplines? 

Photo credit: Jared Erondu on Unsplash

Historical Reminiscents EP 21: Building Collaborative Practices

Table with multiple laptops, tea pot, and pens. Right side reads: Episode 21: Building Collaborative Practices

How do you coordinate the work of a dozen people who live in geographically different spaces, across multiple time zones? In this week’s podcast episode I discuss strategies for working on collaborative projects virtually.  I draw on my experience participating in projects which include participation from individuals across Canada and abroad. I also share some of my favourite project management and team software.

I would love to hear about what other strategies folks use when working collaboratively, leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
Unwritten Histories
Basecamp
Slack

Download or listen now.

Art + Feminism in the Soo

Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit A Thon written in blue of yellow background. Poster.

Last week I helped organize an Art+Feminism edit-a-thon in Sault Ste. Marie, OntarioArt+Feminism is a “campaign improving coverage of cis and transgender women, feminism, and the arts on Wikipedia.” This year marks the fifth year of the Art+Feminism initiative and since 2014 edit-a-thons have taken place around the world, improving over 11,000 articles in the process.

The event organized in the Soo was focused on increasing content on Wikipedia related to Indigenous folks and Northern Ontario artists.  We had a small but enthusiastic group who spent the day editing, laughing, and talking gender.  I was inspired by the effort everyone put in to learning new skills and improving Wikipedia.  Our work even garnered some media attention – local journalist David Helwig covered our work and the new articles created as part of our day.

I love the spirit of community that can be fostered during edit-a-thons.  Many of the participants were folks who I had edited Wikipedia with before and it was great see their progress as editors. We also used this Art+Feminism event to celebrate the successes of our community – the majority of the edits and new pages created were about people we knew, had met, and admired. Two of the new pages were about Algoma University alumni and two new pages were about artists who had worked with the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre.

This locally driven page creation reminded me of why I love Wikipedia – it has the power to shape narratives, uplift voices, and can be a collaborative/community work space.  Editing Wikipedia also has the power to act as an education tool – teaching folks about collaboration, clear writing, citations, and narrative building.  The more I engage in editing Wikipedia with students and community members the more I am encouraged by the results. Editing Wikipedia combines a huge range of skill sets and can change the way we think about the past and community success.

Historical Reminiscents EP 20: Open Source Public History

Black computer screen with command line code on left. Right reads "Episode 20: Open Source Public History"

This week’s podcast episode is all about the intersection of open source digital tools and public history.  I talk about ways that digital history and open source communities can enhance public history practice.  I also chat about my favorite open source public history tools.

What open source tools or platforms do you use as part of your public history practice? I would love to hear about your successes or challenges using open source software in the public history field, leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
OMEKA
Audacity
Daniel Ross’ Active History post on using History Pin in the classroom.
Voyant

Download or listen now.

Revisiting Beyond 150

beyond 150 logo

Remember that awesome Twitter Conference Andrea Eidinger and I organized in August? You can now checkout a select number of the Beyond 150 presentations on the Canada’s History Society website.  Beyond 150 was “designed to encourage collaboration, public engagement, and spark discussion about Canada’s history in a way that is accessible to everyone. It aimed to uplift diverse perspectives, unrepresented histories, and support the work of early-career and emerging scholars.”

The five presentations highlighted by Canada’s History Society include:

I’m still so very happy with how #Beyond15CA turned out. I have gone back to a number of these presentations since the event and used a couple of them in the classroom.  Have a great idea for a 2018 twitter conference theme? Let me or Andrea know!

Beyond 150: Telling Our Stories Twitter Conference

beyond 150 logoI’m super excited to have been part of the planning for the “Beyond 150: Telling Our Stories” twitter conference that will be held August 24-25, 2017 on Twitter. Organized by Active History, Unwritten Histories, Canada’s History Society, and The Wilson Institute the conference aims to diversify the historical narrative and uplift marginalized historical perspectives. It is designed to encourage collaboration, public engagement, and spark discussion about Canada’s history in a way that is accessible to everyone.

For details on the conference, how you can participate, and the CFP check out today’s Active History announcement. Or follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #beyond150CA.

Community Archives and Collaboration in the Classroom

keep-calm-and-collaborateEarlier this week Skylee-Storm Hogan and I were invited to speak as part of an ongoing faculty professional development series focusing on collaboration.  Our session focused on ways faculty can collaborate with archives, how archives can be brought into the classroom, and using archives across disciplines.

The workshop was relatively informal with Skylee-Storm and I briefly talking about our experience working with archives in classroom spaces, how to engage students with primary source research, and past successful collaborations.  The rest of the workshop was spent discussing potential collaboration opportunities, approaches to teaching site and national specific history, and creative engagement possibilities.

One of the things our conversation touched on a number of times was the idea of archives as interdisciplinary and that archival work can be skill building for students across programs.  This point is something I’ve talked about before, but I do really believe that the skills that students learn through engagement with archival material can be far reaching.  During our presentation Skylee-Storm hogan talked about the development of primary source research skills, community outreach techniques, curatorial skills, writing, and presentation skills that were developed through engagement with archival material.  These skills are not tied to a single discipline and are often connected to tangible projects as part of course work or employment.

During the session we also spent a considerable amount of time discussing community engaged research.  This involved thinking about how a grassroots community based archives can be used to teach research methods, foster community connections, and how to build classroom examples around the archive.

Overall the conversation was heartening and really reminded me of the uniqueness of the archives that I work in.  The Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre archive is deeply connected to a marginalized community.  The survivor community has played a fundamental role in the development of programming and holdings since the establishment of the SRSC archive. This Indigenous community led approach to research and collecting is something unique and is something worth talking about. In an era where more and more institutions are looking at ways to integrate Indigenous content and Indigenous voices into the classroom space the holdings of the SRSC are increasingly important when talking about preserving the legacy of residential schools, community based healing, and teaching history from an Indigenous perspective.

The session also reminded me of the ongoing need to educate and advocate for archives.  Even internally there is always more work that can be done to raise awareness about the extent of holdings and what services archives offer.  That outreach piece is something that often feels like treading water – you might be repeatedly having the same conversation with different people – but eventually it does result in progress and if all goes well increased awareness and use.