At the end of 2004, I started researching Hypatia and got discouraged along the way as I discovered she probably did not invent the astrolabe. It took 3 months to receive the book that would help me decide for myself if she did or didn’t. So, consequently, my culture site is not complete.
I will however, describe the process I went through to get it to the stage it is in.
Research is like detective work, which I find fun. Tracking sources is always a trick. I could have used Bookmark/Favorites functions of my favorite browser to help me keep track, or I could have created a database to track them, but I did not think ahead enough and just copied and pasted links into a web page in two places; this blog, and another web page.
For future research projects, I will probably use WordPress’s Category and Link functions, because I want to be able to search and store them as indivitual items.
In addition, I could add the resources to a wiki so others around the world can use and add to them.
If you’ve clicked on the Culture Site link at the right, you’ll be able to see many of the resources I gathered for this project, including books, links to articles and professional journals, as well as a list of ideas.
Snippets of information gathered for the project were then typed into a word processing file. (first in Word, then in a plain web page using Dreamweaver; see next section). I like to format as I’m writing, as I’m a visual person. Seeing the paragraphs, indentations, lists, floating boxes of tidbits, etc. helps me organize content.
At first, the writing is jumbled but as the process progresses, I am able to organize subtopics based on the criteria set forth in the assignment: introduction, about the figure and her inventions or other work, historical trends and how women in her culture use technology, and a bibiliography. The hardest part of the research has been finding information about tools women used in Hypatia’s time period. So far I have not found any resources, so have not written anything for that section yet. (I hope the students are having an easier time with that one!) My lesson here is not to go back too far in history if I want to write a quick paper!
I like citing sources within the paragraph, and will often do it after the sentence in parenthesis if I’ve already mentioned the source. Other sources I used will go in the bibliography. My challenge is do I list the sources that I believe are wrong? Read the site to find out why I ask this question.
Web page production
Generallly, I use Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and hand-coding of html (the language web pages are usually written in) to design and produce web sites. I explored various methods of making web sites to learn alternatives for students in the WS 499 course: Microsoft Word with newsletter templates, Microsoft Word with no template, and AppleWorks 6. Each version ended up irritating me so I went back to hand-coding and Dreamweaver.
Dreamweaver is a professional-level web development tool where Microsoft is a word processor with the abilitiy to save in .html format. The newsletter templates were difficult to manage, so I don’t always recommend them unless the student has experience with Word. Hand-coding web pages is not any easier without lots of practice.
Working in Word with no template is by far the easiest method for building pages and linking them together. All the writing and formatting can be done in Word, then the Insert->Hyperlink option will allow you to link each page together. Then the alternative text needed in images is possible through the Image Properties palette. Finally, saving the file as .htm is generally painless.
The main stumbling block students have to making web pages is getting files onto the web server. I recommend the pages be built on the hard drive and copied to the web server using any ftp application: WS_FTP, Shell, Fetch, ONID’s Explorer login, Frontpage, etc. Even some browsers will help you connect. For OSU students, the ONID userID and password, along with the web server name and directory will allow you to connect no matter what software is used to transfer the files.
In 2006, I added the content for the culture site to this WordPress.com blog to test how it can work for students. So far, I find it simpler than any other method. The only drawback is the inability to order the pages by any method other than alphabetically.