Using Digital Tools Meaningfully

As we hit the midpoint of this institute, I am thrilled to have the chance to learn so much so quickly. My application focused on the ways in which I hoped to use digital tools in the classroom, and I am now much better prepared to carry out those plans. Learning more about Omeka, especially, is something I have wanted to do since NCPH 2013, and I now think my students will benefit from using it and WordPress as ways to present historical information.

Incorporating digital tools meaningfully into my own research is more tricky. My research and writing process is eccentric. I use Zotero for early bibliography, but read on paper, and take notes longhand. I have had some luck later typing those up, which lets me search by keyword. Although inefficient, the redundancy forces me to think repeatedly about the material.

As an urban historian, I think mapping is the most likely area of growth for my work. I hope to learn GIS, but that will take time. My current work wrestles with historic preservation, gentrification, and segregation. This summer I was excited to figure out how to use a Google Fusion table to map African-American owned barber shops and beauty parlors in Savannah in 1952:

I have also used Social Explorer to see historic census data spatially. Tracking property values over time is challenging, and may involve pulling the online property tax cards for various properties and logging sale prices over time, then somehow analyzing that data. I am not sure what forms that analysis may take, but look forward to learning more here.

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