Creating One's Family Heritage Online
Project web site: www.octech.org/ccha/index.htm
Team members: Warren Yarbrough, Forest Mahan and Georgianne
Our project is for
technologically-oriented students taking an "Introduction to
Humanities" class. Delving into their family backgrounds through
oral and written research, they will find patterns in their
personal cultures and present these on individual web sites,
using various media to present stories, photographs, important
written documents and a family tree.
We developed a detailed, action
(Preliminary to Academic Semester)
Spring Semester 2000 (Academic
- Presentation of project to Area
Commission, President, Vice-President of College (January 4,
- Develop web site format (January
- Construct student guidelines for
web construction (January 6, 2000)
- E-mail progress report (January
Summer Session 2000
- Week One (January 10, 2000):
Present the guidelines for the project to the students; E-mail
progress report (January 14, 2000).
- Week Two (January 17-21, 2000):
Provide overview of FrontPage; Provide overview of fundamentals
for researching oral history; Present construction of a
genealogical profile from a genealogical record; i.e. family
tree; E-mail progress report (January 21, 2000).
- Weeks Two-Six January
17-February 21, 2000): Students will be research their family
stories and genealogy and posting the results to the individual
- Week Six (February 24, 2000):
Students will present a minimum of three family stories and a
rough draft of their family tree; E-mail progress report
(February 25, 2000).
- Weeks Seven and Eight (February
28-March 13, 2000): Overview of scanning and photo scanning;
Student compilation of family photos and photos of family
heirlooms with narrative explanations; E-mail progress report
(March 14, 2000).
- Weeks Nine-Twelve (March
20-April 24, 2000): Compilation of family letters, recipes, and
other important written documents; Revision, proofreading/editing
of the individual web sites; E-mail progress report (April 28,
- May 2, 2000, Presentations of
individual web sites.
- May 4, 2000, Saving sites to
- May 5, 2000, E-mail progress
- Compilation of genealogical
construction, as well as the informational use of a web board
will be an on-going effort throughout the semester.
Fall Semester 2000
- May 8, 2000: Prepare and
present outcomes assessment of family culture project to
humanities faculty; E-mail progress report (May 8,
- June 5-8, 2000: Conduct
training seminar for humanities faculty interested in using the
web-based approach to the family culture project in their HSS
#101 classes with mentoring assistance from humanities project
- E-mail progress report (June 8,
Goals and Objectives:
- August 14, Mentor site visit and
presentation of project to the full college faculty during the
- September 15, 2000, Site visit
- August 21-December 14, 2000,
Serve as mentors to humanities faculty using the web-based
approach for the family culture project.
- December 1, 2000, Completion
date of written report.
- To develop an argument for
including a family culture project in a humanities
- To develop the components of a
sample family culture project and explain how they can be used to
make the concepts in a humanities course relevant to
- To stress the need for using
technology in student projects as a means for capitalizing on
- To create a web-based project
based on family culture research.
- To use technology to enhance
student retention and success.
Cognitive psychologists maintain
that we learn best when we connect new information with prior
experience. By having students complete a family culture project,
we were able to draw from the experiences of the class members to
illustrate course concepts and make connections. Furthermore, by
having students produce this project in a web-based format,
instructors may capitalize on the interests of technologically
oriented students, as well as take advantage of the research and
presentation capacities of technology.
This project has significantly
impacted how we approach and handle this course. First, there is
a great deal more involvement with technology insofar as the
presentation of the course material. It is as if doing the
project became an ice-breaker that has led to PowerPoint
presentations, web-quests, etc. "virtual" tours, etc. In other
words, it has given those of us who teach the class the
confidence to expand into technology as a significant component
of our methodology. This has even carried over into classes other
than the HSS 101. Second, it has shown us that the students can
use technology to create and present information, thereby
allowing them to become more engaged with the topics at hand. For
example, as a result of the project, I have introduced more
web-based exploration and presentation or a more minor scale. One
thing that I have done is to have the students create a web page
called "Car Culture." The main highway that runs through our
community was a key thoroughfare for people traveling from the
northern United States to Florida during the 1940's and 1950's.
The interstate highway re-routed these travelers, and, as a
result, seriously impacted the community. In the "Car Culture"
project, the students explored this impact through oral interview
and photographs, both of which were presented on this
The retention rate in these
classes has improved. In the sections using the project, there
was a retention rate of 80%. In the past, my retention rate in
the HSS 101 classes that I taught was around 60%. This has been
the case with everyone else. Also, the overall grades improved.
What I found is that the students actually like coming to the
class, and their interest in their projects carried over to the
class at large. While the aspect was not "quantifiable," it was
definitely the most significant to me. There has been a great
deal of increase in student interest. I actually had them to
stick around after class to ask questions rather than make a mad
dash for the door. They called me at home to ask about things as
they were preparing for tests. These things were unheard of
before working this project into the course.
We received excellent feedback from
our mentors. They provided us with regular input on our efforts,
as well as freely responded to any questions. In our opinion, the
site visit of April 2000 was successful. It allowed us the
opportunity to show our mentors the classroom, to review our
work, to meet the students in the class that semester and get
input from them, and to interact with our
The following is a list of
activities that we have done to disseminate the idea of our
- September 2000, Overview and
Training Sessions for College Humanities Faculty
- September 2000, Presentation of
the Project to the Area Commission of Our College
- September 2000, Presentation of
the Project to the College Faculty
- September 2000, Presentation of
the Project at the College "Community Appreciation
- October 2000, Presentation of
the Project at the Annual CCHA Southern Division
- April 2001, Presentation of the
Project at the College "Community Appreciation Day"
- Summer 2001, Presentation of
project to Other Humanities Faculty from the Other State
- October 2001, Presentation of
the Project at the League for Innovation Conference
- November 2001, Presentation of
the Project at the Annual National Council of Teachers of English
Throughout the course of working
with the project, we had numerous lessons that we had to learn.
The following is a list and explanation of these.
- Train the students earlier in
the technology: At the beginning of the course, I developed a
timeline for the students in which they would complete the
various components of the project. The training for the students
insofar as the technology was concerned was done on a "just in
time" basis. This was not effective, and I had to modify it the
second time around. Each student worked at a different pace, so
they all needed the training for everything up front.
- Pace the Course Over the
Semester: As I said earlier, I created a timeline. However, I was
not as diligent about making sure that each component was
completed by the projected date. Thus, there was often overlap.
This made for a confusing situation, and, at the end, some
students were still rushing to complete everything. Thus, I
learned to make the students stick to the schedule.
- Accommodate for Student Skills:
As with anything, the students had varying skills in regard to
the technology. Some could barely turn on a computer; some showed
me a thing or two. Most were in between. The lesson that I had to
learn here was to make use of classroom mentors in a kind of
"Train the Trainer" approach. With this, I would show selected
students who seemed to have heightened skills what we were doing
next. They, in turn, would assist with the students who were
weaker in technology.
- Allow for "Ownership": The first
time that I did the project, I kept myself too involved with the
minutiae of each person's work. Thus, the final results each bore
my thumb print. I found that this approach seemed to stifle the
students' creativity, and, just as important, decrease their
actual involvement in the project. In other words, it was more
mine than theirs. The key lesson here was to learn to "back off"
on the control.