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Friday, May 29 • 1:15pm - 2:30pm
Interactive Histories: Crafting the User Experience

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A panel of two demonstrations:

Visualizing History: Interactive Timelines and Parallax Scrolling
Bettina Fabos and Jacob Espenscheid

This project demo features Proud and Torn, a unique interactive timeline that visualizes Hungarian history (20 CE-1956) through archival photographs, maps, illustrations, and films gathered through historical research in more than 20 Hungarian archives. The timeline stylistically combines the genres of photomontage, personal narrative, and graphic novel and presents the content with parallax scrolling, a special web coding technique that makes background images move slower than foreground images, creating an illusion of depth and a more immersive visual experience.

As a relatively recent web capability (first employed in 2011), parallax allows users to control text speed and activate animation and video with the vertical scrollbar, allowing for the sophisticated delivery of complex chronology without disrupting narrative flow. One of the most acclaimed examples of parallax storytelling is the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning feature story “Snowfall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” released in 2012. Indeed, the combination of timeline history and parallax is an unbeatable storytelling tool, and could have a significant role in all areas of education and the digital humanities.

Proud and Torn features fifteen “drop-down” chapters (all developed with parallax animation), over 500 archival photographs (often artistically combined via photomontage), and numerous short archival film clips. The project tells the story of Hungarian history (20 CE-1956) through a distinct point of view—that of the American daughter of a Hungarian immigrant who escaped Hungary in 1956. The personal narrative perspective explores history from the ground up (rather than the top down), relies on family photos and documents, and challenges the dominant (and narrow) portrayals of Hungarian history that privilege the widely circulated myths of Hungary’s wealthy male elite. In documenting the story of a typical farming family that was impacted—drastically—by world events and the decisions of Hungary’s official lawmakers, this timeline project offers a more complicated and thoughtful understanding of Hungary’s past. It serves as a bold new model for the humanities and historians to “question the past” and “illuminate their present” (Wineberg, 2001, p. 132) using best practices in new media technology.

The immersive, innovative reading experience of Proud and Torn will hopefully stimulate historians, educators, and visual artists to build other visualized histories of their own. One of the final goals of this project is to create an open source template for others in the humanities to combine text and graphics to create historical timelines that present new forms of historical storytelling.

Wineburg, Sam (2001). Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Digital Badges in First-Year Writing Courses
Alan J. Reid

This project demo will profile a digital badge initiative at Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, SC, population 9,000 undergraduates. The program, titled Coastal Composition Commons (http://ccc.coastal.edu/), recognizes student proficiency in course learning outcomes for first-year writing courses. The two courses, ENGL101: Composition and ENGL102: Composition & Critical Reading, are central to the Core Curriculum and required of first-year students at CCU. The Coastal Composition Commons, or CCC, has changed the landscape of the first-year writing program by serving as the fourth credit hour for these traditionally 3-credit hour writing courses. 

Currently in its inaugural semester, the CCC has over 2,300 active learners and 63 faculty members. There are eleven badges available at the time of this writing, eight of which are required as part of the first-year writing program curriculum. These eight badges are tethered directly to the course outcomes and represent 24% of the student’s final course grade. Each badge resembles a chapter from a digital textbook, rich with multimedia content such as interactive objects, infographics, video lessons, and video interviews from CCU faculty members. At the end of each badge is a required assignment, which asks the learner to apply the concepts and principles covered in that specific badge. The required badges consist of six writing-based badges, Summarizing, Paraphrasing, Quoting, Synthesizing, Shaping a Thesis, Paragraphing, and two linguistic-based badges, Shifting Styles and Wordsmithing. 

The proposed project demo session will exhibit the CCC and deliver a user experience by offering attendees the option to earn a badge for attending our session. While the authors continue to investigate student and faculty experiences with digital badges and the platform on which the program is being delivered, student and faculty testimonials will provide qualitative insight into the program's effectiveness and attitudes towards digital badges. An experimental study on the effects of badges on intrinsic motivation currently is underway, and the findings will be shared as well. 

The authors will conclude the session with suggested best practices for implementing digital badge programs, challenges faced while designing the program, and future considerations for how badges can be applied to other disciplines. 

This presentation will complement the conference theme of “technology and education,” as the Coastal Composition Composition is an innovative approach to teaching writing through the lens of new media. Last, much of our work with the CCC has been inspired by the engaging discussions in the HASTAC forums on digital badges, and we would be honored to participate in next year’s conference.

avatar for Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
Theatre History, Dramatic Literature, Translation Studies, History of Sexuality

avatar for Bettina Fabos

Bettina Fabos

Professor of Interactive Digital Studies, University of Northern Iowa
Bettina Fabos is a Professor of Interactive Digital Studies at the University of Northern Iowa. Both a scholar and producer of digital culture, her written and creative work revolve around digital culture, digital photo archiving, digital visualization, and the Creative Commons. She... Read More →
avatar for Alan J. Reid

Alan J. Reid

Assistant Professor, English, Coastal Carolina University
Ask me about Hypothes.is!

Friday May 29, 2015 1:15pm - 2:30pm EDT
Room 103 Kellogg Center

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