March 17th – Project Proposal

Digital History Resource Proposal

             I intend to create a US I comprehensive exam site that can be utilized by any and all graduate students attending American University and needing a structured approach to studying for the US I comp.

            In its current state, the prototype consists of an overview layer explaining what the site is and how to use or navigate the site (a feature that surprisingly few sites have), followed by two ways to approach studying (by theme or by timeline), as well as a visual approach that includes a grid mesh overlay and bar graph.

            Within the theme and timeline choices, users can access individual artificial ‘mini-themes’ or ‘mini-timelines’ to breakdown the topics into comprehensible units of study. Each of these units will be supported by at least one book; each book will be supported by at least two reviews from noted scholarly journals, in addition to contributions from other graduate students.

            At a minimum, the resource is at least four layers deep; I believe this will be sufficient. If I make it too complicated, students won’t use it. Furthermore, I want as much participation as possible from graduate students in the field, contributing their comments and/or reviews on the various themes and books in the project. The purpose is to make the site a living, breathing comprehensive exam resource. If reviews are not updated by grad students, then the site will become dated, and eventually die a lonely, irrelevant death.

            If this phase is successful, then I would like to expand the site to encompass US II, US Diplo, and other outside fields. The site will also include other relevant information (copies of comp requests, copies of tools of research requests, etc.) that a graduate student, wading through the morass of graduate school bureaucracy, needs.

            For the most part, WordPress will be used in the resource’s creation. A flatbed scanner will be utilized for various form and map images, and an as-of-yet unchosen application will be used for the creation of the grid overlay. At the present time, I envision a static HTML display, but I may try to incorporate some aspect of CMS at a later date.

            For the purposes of this class, I expect to have a navigable four layers completed by the due date; these layers will chart one historiographic theme along with its support resources. My timeline is simple: one layer per week until project presentation.

            This project is but a beginning phase of a larger work, one that I expect to be around for a long time, and I invite your collaboration in its development.


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