@Arras95 – Week 1

arras95On the 9th April we launched the @Arras95 campaign. @Arras95 aims to surface a key, but lesser taught, turning point of the War, providing an innovative opportunity for others to learn about and engage in discussion about this historical event. @Arras95 will increase the visibility of open content around this one focal point, providing teachers, students and the general public with a wealth of resources for free use and adaption. We are also asking online communities to contribute facts and content around the historical event that can be released as OER. We will be adding any open content to our Resource Library and building an archive of all the information that comes in via Twitter. You can read more about @Arras95 in this blog post.

Here is a summary of Week One on the battlefield

Over the following week we hope to drive more interest in our Google Event Map and feed in the geotagged tweets from our Twitter account.

Posted in arras95, engagement | 4 Comments

4 Responses to “@Arras95 – Week 1”

  1. Finding this process interesting and informative, so thought it worth adding a few thoughts to the formative evaluation process related to @arras95.

    1. I understand the principles of OER, however I think that there are issues related to mapping. In the last ten years, mapping used by the Great War community generally has become of a high quality. It is difficult with Google maps to meet these standards. When describing the actions on the ground, whether strategically or tactically, to aid real understanding, one needs to refer to contemporary features and place names, add in modern layers and edit/mark features. I don’t know what the solution is, but feel it worth giving thought before 2014-18?

    2. Brief feedback to those taking part would be useful in terms of progress towards the critical success factors – your views on material quality and breadth; the range of Great War aspects being covered and degree to which key on-line communities are being engaged. Your thinking about who the target communities are and what more needs to be done to connect with those as yet not connected into the process would be helpful?

    3. I’m interested in the Great War, but am wondering if the #arras95 hashtag is becoming ‘overloaded’ with a preponderance of battalion, brigade, division level tweets giving a distorted view of what the project is about. (I’ve been guilty of this by the way and am adjusting what I do.)
    I’m not sure what the solution is, or if you think it a problem. It’s a question really of who the audience is for such a project and considering what will attract them to or repel them from the process.

    Just a few thoughts.

    Thank you for all your hard work on #arras95


    • Katharine Lindsay says:

      Hi Stephen, thanks for your comments, it’s great to have some feedback. And thanks so much for helping us along!

      The resource we are creating (I’m thinking of the whole project no just @Arras95) is primarily aimed at educators and learners at a higher and further education level. In the current climate there is an increasing requirement for open resources and also a call to try a shift the way we teach the War (as our academic steering group said ‘to get out of the trenches’). However, we know schools and military historians provide an alternative audience and we hope to provide resources interesting for these communities too and furthermore , to facilitate the sharing of knowledge across these communities.

      1. I agree, mapping is incredibly important for the study of the Great War, and looking at commercial resources like Linesman it’s difficult to see how using something like Google Maps may be beneficial in this respect. I think its worth noting a couple of things. Firstly, whilst the overall aim of the Continuations and Beginnings project is to collect together existing OER to provide free educational resources, it is also highlighting where the gaps lie. We’ve found quite a few and maps is certainly one of them. If mapping is to become more important in the study of the Great War then someone needs to licence some content so it can become a part of the way we teach it. The other point is that whilst Google Maps may not provide the best map it does provide interesting opportunities to interact with content. You can create a layer of anything you want and overlay it on Google Maps. It would be great to have an archive of such layers for the Great War. BTW I think the experience is richer if you use Google Earth where you see aerial photography and street view instead. But back to my earlier point, I am not sure that there is enough open content in terms of maps to make the rich resources that we need, but may this exercise will present the case to create some…

      2. TBH this is such an experiment (and considered such a tiny part of the overall project) we are learning who our communities are as we go along. I knew I wanted to try and engage the Great War communities that already exist on Twitter, I didn’t expect to turn people onto using Twitter which has happened. I didn’t really expect battalions to tweet along with us either. How do you think feedback would be best delivered? I’ve been posting in the GWF and plan a weekly update here, however its a bit tricky on Twitter as we can’t really break the persona of Twitter profile, so we tweet about the project as @WW1C using the hastag.

      In terms of material, we have identified quite a few good pieces of OER and are building a nice collection. There is now a collection of over 80 articles, photographs, maps etc on Arras that didn’t really exist as a group together before. It’s heartening that some people are creating OER for us in response. But it is all very Allied-centric, I would like more material and information from the German perspective at the very least. Hopefully we have a few blogs coming from that direction. But this project is in English so I guess I should be realistic in my expectations! We are having a workshop in September where material will be reviewed.

      3. Yup agree about #arras95. But this is how many people engage with the War, through the experiences of a group of others and that’s how they want to engage with the project. As we go along it is getting hard to push the larger themes through, especially during the quieter times in the battlefield, it has become filled with the everyday lives of the battalions tweeting along. We purposely are tweeting a bit less as the event progresses, as we want to enageg rather than dominate. I’ve been watching accounts like @TitanicRealTime. Whilst the stream makes sense when you read it there is absolutely no interaction with anyone else. Twitter is mean to be a conversation, not a news feed. I do wonder if it would have been better to choose a shorter event. I’m not sure what the answer is here, I expect looking through the archive of tweets after the event may reveal some pointers.

      @Arras95 is very much an experiment, to see if we can build a comprehensive set of resources to help people learn about the battle. What form those resources will take after the Twitter event, I’m not sure. We may not make use of the Tweets as they are at all, and create chronological slidehows or timelines with images and facts of the information that came through and links to the articles that were created. May be something with Maps. Either way, it will make for a very interesting exercise!

      We have no plans to repeat anything like this for 2014-2018 (we are only funded until July!). But the lessons learned may help anyone else thinking of doing something similar.

    • Pat says:

      I agree re places and maps – I’ve made a lot of KML for the project, but the villages clearly move – or are raised and rebuilt – so the issue of where Monchy or Oppy is / was is very much open to conjecture.

      Part of the reason for using a lot of KML is the fact it is editable relatively easily in google maps – and we feel it is better to have information out there – with a caveat of inaccuracy, and the possibility of it being improved – than to have no information at all.

  2. Thanks both for your replies. In answer to a couple of points:

    1. Understand about the mapping issues. It’s good to let participants and audiences know about the issues involved through formative evaluation.

    2. I see nothing wrong with guiding the project in terms of the initial aims, objectives and success criteria. As a participant I would welcome the chance to adapt my contribution to suite the needs of audiences. This blog would seem to be as good place as any to generate an evaluative discussion and highlight relevant outcomes to those taking part. They might be invited via @arras95 and #arras95. I’m happy to invite others’ contributions if you wish?

    3. It would be surprising if no funding was made available somewhere for a project such as this during 2014-18.

    Best wishes