Section 1: Tech overview
Omeka is an open-source web-publishing platform “for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions” (Omeka Website). It is essentially an online exhibit, where users upload images, video, text, and other content to an online platform that is easily organized and navigated by exhibit visitors. The platform was created to make “serious web publishing” accessible to cultural content creators (scholars, historical organizations, community groups, teachers and students), librarians and archivists, and museum professionals (curators, web designers, educators, and vendors). It is available for download online (the platform is created through an online extension) and it is free of cost. One benefit of technology-based projects are their shelf-life: check out my project as an example! http://finalprojectck.omeka.net
Section 2: Connection to Inquiry-based learning
Under the platform’s Project page, they give brief suggestions for professionals’ use of Omeka. It explains that educators should “use Omeka to build inquiry-based tasks for students, to create lesson plans with accompanying primary sources or build learning modules with your team.” The inquiry-based task I describe below comes from my undergraduate Digital Humanities course , where we were asked to create an “unessay" assignment in which you choose your own topic, choose the form/manner in which you present your information, and are evaluated on how compelling and effective you are in exploring the topic. The only requirement was that the topic be connected to the course content. The unessay is meant to bring back the flexibility that has been lost in the “hamburger bun” essay propagation in our schools. This awesome inquiry project can be used as a unit assessment (described below), or as a culminating assignment, where students are required to make connections between 2/3 works covered in class and outside material, thereby allowing them to choose their topic and mode of presentation. Forthe latter, I would ensure to incorporate the smaller unit assessment well before the culminating, which lets students explore and get comfortable with Omeka so they may intelligently choose the best mode of presentation for the culminating assignment.
According to their website, the word Omeka is a Swahili word meaning “to display or lay out wares; to speak out; to spread out; to unpack”; it is a name heavy with significance in humanities and social science classrooms. Framing the assessment in this light—as a project that allows them to “lay out” the products of their learning, “unpack” their understanding, and “spread out” their newly created knowledge among classmates and the wider community—can be extremely powerful and motivating for students. This project clearly connects to the four tenets of inquiry-based learning, as described in the Ministry’s Capacity Building Series documents—taken as a whole, the students are engaged in: focus (choosing a topic, questioning their understanding of the poem and the poems they’ve chosen, getting feedback from peers on the connections they’ve made, etc.); shared learning (communicating their findings in an effective way, getting feedback from peers on the fluidity of their exhibit, reflecting on their research questions during the process, etc.); exploring (connecting past experience and knowledge with the current project, keeping information organized and using the organization to prompt further questions, etc.); and analyzing (using the information to answer questions and draw conclusions, talk about their learning, using their findings to ask new questions, etc.).
This motivation is only enhanced by the power of choice. The assessment would come after a unit of poetry, where students are exposed to a number of different poems. For the unessay, students will explore a topic of their choice, using one of the poems we studied as their starting point and researching two other poems that compliment their topic. Students will be evaluated on their process (brainstorming, research, peer feedback, exhibit creation) and the extent to which their exhibit is compelling and effective. Throughout the process, students will engage with traditional poetry analysis, thus demonstrating their understanding of the literary devices that we need to assess for. However, the assessment of content (literary devices) will be embedded in the process mark, ensuring that the final Omeka assignment is assessing the students’ collection and presentation of information rather than on their analysis of the texts. As such, this unit assessment is comprised of two separate assessments, which, when put together, create a rich, inquiry-based poetry project.
 Here is the course website, with a more comprehensive description of the assessment.
Assignment written for Professor Kim MacKinnon (OISE - CTL 7016)
I am an enthusiastic and conscientious educator. I use my blog to connect my personal experiences and adventures to my pedagogy.