Over the years the Irish Studies program has used a variety of technology tools to construct the websites that accompany each year’s trip (see list each year’s trip site in the sidebar to the right). In each case, students have learned to take digital pictures, digital videos and develop text using tools like iMovie and a variety of word processing tools. But, this year, much to the thanks of edSocialMedia.com‘s Educational Social Media Bootcamp and the latest release of iLife ’09 from Apple, the Irish Studies program will be using a varity of social media tools to reach an entirely new audience.
WordPress, Apple XServe, OSX Server
Using the tools and services built into OSX Server (MySQL, Apache and PHP) and our own XServe we are able to host a WordPress server which the Irish Studies Program will be building this years and all future years sites. This open-source blogging platform and the tools provided in OSX server provides a cost effect, collaborative and dynamic publishing environment beyond the standard static HTML pages the programs sites have used in the past. While traveling throughout Ireland, we will be able to update content on the site using our iPhone and the free WordPress app available on the iTunes App Store as well as through the standard web interface provide by WordPress. Using application we will be able to update blogs on a more regular basis throught the two weeks of travel.
iLife ’09, Digital Storytelling, YouTube and Flickr
The iLife suite has been an integral part of the Irish Studies program since its inception. The use of iMovie and iTunes has been the backbone for some of the best content created on the site(s)… the video storytelling. Always a favorite amongst the students traveling on the trip, these applications have made the film making process simple. The process of storytelling is something that, prior to the trip, the students have had limited experience in creating. The areas of study in which we work provide the students with a opportunity to analyse and synthesise all they have taken in and create the stories of these institutions and locations. Many of the areas, such as Derry City and the Skibbereen Famine Cemetary and Memorial often elicit very powerful and emotional videos. Thanks to the ease of use and improvement in features in iMovie over the years, so have the quality of the videos created while traveling.
The other area of the site(s) where there there is a large volume of content is the galleries section(s). The galleries that have been created in the past have told a story through pictures that have complimented the written text. Galleries have been created from each of the areas of study and as we have traveled throughout Ireland attempting to capture pieces of it’s beauty.
In previous years these digital stories were only available to those people accessing the sites from various years. The content was contained in the “box” that was it’s years site. With the integration of both YouTube and Flickr into the iLife ’09 suite of applications the Irish Studies program will be publishing all these digital on both of these service. These sites will provide the opportunity to have a greater conversation around the students work and share them with the world at large. The content will be posted on a YouTube Channel and Flickr Photostream directly associate with the program. Al of the content will be appropriately tagged to help direct people to it and allows for a level of sharing not previously accomplished in the more static pages used.
When we want to get information posted quickly, when we have something short to say or between blog posts the Irish Studies Program, will be using Twitter to keep visitors to the site and those following the Program on Twitter up-to-date on what is going on. The use of Twitter provides a means to communicate in a way we have not been able to before in short burst and allows for a quick glimpse of the program without necessarily have to have them visit the site. Again, like with WordPress, the use of the iPhone and apps like Twittelator and Twitterific we will not need to be in a WiFi area, we will be able to send updates from anywhere!
Connectivity and the iPhone
Connectivity has been the single largest limiting factor in the Irish Studies program. The ability to add content to the site has required that we be in locations that have WiFi access or an Internet Cafe. The iPhone provides us with the tool for managing up-to-date and current information through Twitter and WordPress. Larger pieces of content such as videos, picture galleries and larger blog posts will still need to be done when there is access for our MacBooks. The Program, however the program is investigating the possibility of using a broadband modem card to allow for anywhere access.
Publishing, sharing and comments…
In all aspects of the creation and publishing of the content for each years site, the method has always been static and the ability invite comments from others and share what has been published has been limited if not impossible. Through these publishing tools (iPhoto, iMovie and WordPress) and these publishing sites (Twitter, Flickr and YouTube), we will be able to expand what in the writing is is th most important piece… the publish. Our students will be real authors and contributers to the growing base of knowledge assembled on the Internet and hopefully provide a resource and forum for discussion on the topic covered in the Irish Studies program that is not available in many other placves.