Now we’ve come to the end of the road… *Boyz II Men voice*

I can hardly believe this summer is just about over. Before my eyes, the summer months have come and gone, and along with them goes my incredible internship with Archive-It K-12 Web Archiving Program. I will always remember my summer as  a “virtual intern”—the things I learned, the people I met, and the inspirations I received—all from a computer screen. This summer taught me to research better, write better, network better, archive better, learn better, but most of all, it taught me that when it comes to history, no one’s voice is “better.” Archives are, essentially, the documented stories of humanity. We keep archives because of their enduring value and their ability to tell the everyday stories of life and its many successes, failures, scandals, milestones, transactions, and more. When we deny certain voices or formats entry into the archives, we are not striving for, as Richard Pearce-Moses would say, “a complete, authentic, and accurate story of the past.”[1] That is why initiatives like the K-12 Web Archiving Program are so important. K-12 students, for once, are getting to represent themselves in the archives by participating in the archival process. After all, who better to decide what is important to K-12 students than actual, real-life K-12 students?

In closing, this summer showed me the raw, dedicated, cutting-edge, exhilarating, and at times, frustrating passion it takes to be an archivist in the digital era. This summer also showed me I couldn’t possibly be more passionate about any other career. Thank you, my fellow blog readers, for taking this summer journey of learning with me! I will still maintain this blog, of course (you’re not off the hook LOL!), but this is probably the last time I’ll be posting about the Archive-It K-12 Web Archiving Program for a while. But not to worry … my previous posts will always be accessible. Want to know why? Because I chose to Archive-It! Haha! But for real though. I totally did.

Please enjoy the PowerPoint presentation below called “Lessons from a Virtual Intern.” It provides a final summary of my work with Archive-It. Thanks for a great summer, y’all! Stay tuned for more posts coming your way.


[1] Cathy Miller, “Everyday Digital Archives Q&A: Richard Pearce-Moses,” Society of Georgia Archivists (blog), Society of Georgia Archivists, March 2, 2015, http://georgiaarchivists.blogspot.com/2015/03/everyday-digital-archvies-q-richard.html.

Students by day, archivists by night

At James H. Moran Middle School in Wallingford, CT, things are not always as they seem. From 8:00 a.m. to 2:25 p.m., students taking Mr. Paul Bogush’s social studies classes may look like students, dress like students, and act like students, but once school hours have come to an end, some of them take on an entirely new identity…

They become web archivists!

Take a look at this amazing video from a few years ago that talks all about web archiving at James H. Moran Middle School:

Since 2008, Mr. Bogush has faithfully guided groups of students at James H. Moran Middle School in an after-school program dedicated to web archiving. These students, who engage in the program of their own volition, have had a huge hand in making the Archive-It K-12 Web Archiving Program what it is today. From being one of the first schools to participate in the program, to getting filmed by the Library of Congress, to archiving a whopping fifteen million documents (and it’s still growing!), students at Moran Middle School have proven themselves to be some of the most wonderful student web archivists of our time. Earlier this week, I enjoyed a great conversation with Mr. Bogush about web archiving at Moran Middle School. Here are some pieces of our inspiring conversation:

How long have you been an educator, and what subjects/grade levels have you taught?

Mr. Bogush has been an educator for about twenty-five to twenty-six years. For the last twenty-four years, he’s enjoyed teaching eighth grade social studies. Last year he transitioned to seventh grade social studies.

What initially made you interested in the Library of Congress/Archive-It K-12 Web Archiving Program?

“It seemed like a one-of-a-kind program that would get my kids involved with the Library of Congress,” Mr. Bogush said. It was the “cool factor.” At the time, there were only about six schools involved in the program, so Mr. Bogush knew this would be a “prestigious thing for students.” He said, “essentially, they would be writing history, interpreting what history is for this age group.”

How supportive was your school as you embarked on this new venture?

“The school was supportive,” Mr. Bogush confirmed. He said it is always good when teachers get involved with really neat things that few others schools are doing.

The first year you became involved with the program, how did you introduce it to students?

“As a social studies teacher, you talk about who writes history, from what perspectives … who’s history are we actually reading?” Mr. Bogush said. So he asked his students, “One thousand or even five thousand years from now, what are people going to think about you?” His students began to realize, “people who don’t really know us are going to be deciding what to save [and] what was important to us.” Mr. Bogush then asked his students, “what if you were given the opportunity to write your own history?” Students began to understand the web archiving project as something akin to a time capsule.

How do students select which websites to preserve?

Unlike some other educators involved in the program, Mr. Bogush takes a very hands-off approach. “I totally and completely stay out of the process,” he said. He simply emphasizes to his students, “You’re not saving what you think other people think is important.” Mr. Bogush further explained that his students are not web archiving to preserve the most important events of their time, which will probably be saved anyway. Instead, his students are “saving who they are.”

Do students enjoy creating metadata?

“They find it kind of quirky,” Mr. Bogush responded. Students find it awkward to explain simple things like baseball in a description because these activities are so familiar to them. Mr. Bogush helps his students understand that writing metadata for future researchers is equivalent to explaining something to a foreigner.

What do students enjoy most about the web archiving process?

“The exclusivity of it,” Mr. Bogush said. “One time we did the math, and they are one of about three hundred kids in the entire world writing history.”

How has web archiving affected your students personally and socially?

Mr. Bogush said the web archiving program has given his students a sense of pride and a higher level of self-esteem. His students relish the fact that “this is something for the country … much bigger than just their locale.” Mr. Bogush also made a candid observation about how different the web archiving program is from traditional school work. “We mostly give kids ‘fake assignments’—things that will be given a grade and then go into the garbage. For the first time, students are being asked to be a part of something that is permanent. ”

How have you benefited from the program as an educator?

“I include more primary sources in the units I’ve taught,” Mr. Bogush mentioned. Web archiving has also made Mr. Bogush consider historical perspectives and biases more. It has made him more aware of his responsibility to document his perspective of the world. “For the last five years, I’ve been … keeping a record of what is going on in our school,” he said. He takes his camera everywhere, snapping images and categorizing photos. He and his students have even made videos documenting events that have happened in the school. “We realize we are historians, not just participants.”

What was it like for the Library of Congress to interview you and your students a few years ago?

“Awesome! It wasn’t as big as a Hollywood film, but for the kids, it was Hollywood to them.”

Want to see collections from Moran Middle School? I thought you would! Follow these links:

https://archive-it.org/k12/8MoranMS.html

https://archive-it.org/organizations/332

Can you archive like a fifth grader?

The students at P.S. 174 William Sidney Mount in Queens, NY, like to reach for the stars. Literally! As a school whose mission involves “soaring to excellence,” P.S. 174 is not only home to a diverse, talented, and dedicated group of students, but it is also home to a special group of web archivists led by the one and only Ms. Neme Alperstein.

Neme Alperstein and some of her students with author Matt Blackstone
Neme Alperstein and some of her students with author Matt Blackstone

Students at P.S. 174 enjoy the status of being one of the youngest groups of students to engage in the Archive-It K-12 Web Archiving Program, and thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of Ms. Alperstein, they’ve enjoyed this status for many years. “How,” you might ask, “can anyone get a group of fifth graders to do something like web archiving?” For that answer, you’d have to personally talk to Ms. Alperstein. Oh, wait…you’re in luck, because I already did! Check out some pieces of our conversation and see what makes Ms. Alperstein and her students such a special part of the K-12 Web Archiving Program:

How did you get involved with the K-12 Web Archiving Program?

“I got involved with Archive-It through the Library of Congress,” Ms. Alperstein said. Ms. Alperstein is a teacher with a longstanding relationship with the Library of Congress, as she has taken educational summer courses sponsored by the Library and has served as one of the members of the Teaching with Primary Sources Mentor Advisory Board. Right around the time the program was getting on its feet in 2008, Ms. Alperstein was put in contact with Lori Donovan, an Archive-It team member who introduced her to the program. It didn’t take long for Ms. Alperstein to be intrigued.

What age group do you teach?

“I teach gifted fifth-grade students.”

How do students generally react to the web archiving program?

“The children [are] enthralled,” Ms. Alperstein said. Students are surprised to find out that the program asks them “what they want to archive—not their parents.” Ms. Alperstein said her students feel as though this is “their project.”

How do you get such young students to understand a concept like web archiving?

“You have to personalize it,” Ms. Alperstein explained. Even though her students are still in elementary school, Ms. Alperstein gives them a lot of autonomy. In fact, the idea of being young web archivists makes her students proud. “They are very excited to be some of the younger students involved in the program,” Ms. Alperstein said. “Students come to understand the implications of their work for future research.”

How do you incorporate web archiving into your classroom curriculum? Does the prescribed state curriculum make it difficult to do this?

Ms. Alperstein responded, “[web archiving] is actually easy to justify in any classroom according to state curriculum as long as the teacher is not held to a ‘script’ (which I feel is restrictive). I am fortunate in that the leadership in my school (Karin Kelly, P.S. 174’s principal) understands the power and importance of web archiving, and quite frankly, it addresses easily Common Core with the expectation of students developing research skills, analysis skills, reading informational text, collaborative skills, and more.”

What are some challenges you face? How do you work through them?

Even though she works with young students, Ms. Alperstein does not encounter many behavioral issues that affect the implementation of the web archiving program in her classroom. “I never have to embarrass anybody for acting up,” she says. If a student is not acting appropriately, they quickly realize they “lost a chance to keep up with their peers and contribute to history.” As for technological hurdles, Ms. Alperstein is a pro at getting what she needs. She has been able to obtain a combination of twenty-five desktop computer, laptops, and tablets through grants.  She has been particularly fortunate with funding through Donors Choose.

What most surprises your students during the course of the project?

“Students were amazed to see that websites changed even as they archived sites,” Ms. Alperstein noted. She emphasized how much this helped students understand the importance of their work. Additionally, Ms. Alperstein shared an amazing real-world experience that really hit home for her students:

“I had an experience of creating a website of student work over ten plus years on the AT&T server. One day AT&T announced it was ending its web hosting and claimed it would give people a month to move their sites. Twenty-four hours was more like it and the entire body of work disappeared. The students’ work online and documentation of their awards evaporated. The students in my class sat stunned by the story. There was a realization that now THEIR work could disappear…. We immediately (and I mean IMMEDIATELY) archived the school website (http://ps174.org). No kidding.”

Many of us probably consider ourselves smarter than a fifth grader, but do you think you could archive like a fifth grader? One thing’s for sure…I bet the students at P.S. 174 would give you a run for your money! Be sure to check out the wonderful web archive collections these students have created by visiting https://archive-it.org/k12/12PS174.html or https://archive-it.org/k12/13PS174.html. They’ve archived over one hundred and forty sites! Great work, P.S. 174!

An Independence Day history lesson–no textbooks allowed!

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! Well, almost. I didn’t want to wait until July 4th to make this post because I knew that if I did, everyone would be too busy to see it or read it! So before we fire up our grills, marinate our meats, and purchase our fireworks (be good, y’all…check and make sure the fireworks are consumer certified and legal in your state) let’s kick off a celebration of the July 4th weekend with a good old-fashioned study of American history…….NOT!

Today’s look at American history is anything but old fashioned. We’re going to look at American history through the eyes of the web, and guess who’s going to help us do it? K-12 web archivists, of course! Over the years, students participating in the Archive-it K-12 Web Archiving Program have managed to create over two hundred amazing collections that preserve websites for future use. Some of these collections focus on American history, so in honor of the July 4th holiday, I am going to highlight a few of these great collections that both document and celebrate American history, people, and events. So whether you’re an American or not, get ready to experience a “new-fashioned” way of studying history!

School: Paul VI Catholic High School, Fairfax, VA

Collection title: “History”

Year of capture: 2012

Number of URLs: 8

Link to collection: https://archive-it.org/collections/3000

This collection is exciting because it provides a nice balance of sites that document national current events and local Virginia history in 2012. Some sites document the 2012 presidential campaign and the activities of the White House while others have more of a local focus and introduce users to Virginia’s history. This collection even includes a little international history thanks to a capture of The History Channel website. Here’s a little peek into a couple interfaces you will see in this collection (click on the photos to make them a little bigger):

paul vi photo 1paul vi photo 2

School: New York City Public School 56 Q – The Harry Eichler School, Richmond Hill, NY

Collection title: “Social Studies”

Year of capture: 2009

Number of URLs: 7

Link to collection: https://archive-it.org/collections/1366

I love this collection because it documents history in such a student-friendly way. The archived sites are resources that students can safely access and use to mold their understanding of American history. This collection not only helps us understand American heritage but it shows us how elementary school students in 2009 were learning about history through the web. Take a look at some of the sites you can enjoy as a part of this web archive collection:

nyc 56 photo 1nyc 56 photo 2

School: New York City Public School 56 Q – The Harry Eichler School, Richmond Hill, NY

Collection title: “That’s Not Funny!”

Year of capture:2009

Number of URLs: 3

Link to collection: https://archive-it.org/collections/1427 

Take a look at this collection, and you’ll never view American history the same way again. These sites give us the humorous side of American history by displaying political cartoons and satirizing American people and events. Political cartoons and poking fun at history is definitely an American tradition. If you’re an American, enjoy this collection and get a good laugh. If you a non-American, get a good laugh, but try not to make fun of us too much afterwards! Here’s a sneak peek:

nyc 56 photo 3nyc photo 4

Now who ever said American history was boring??? Happy Fourth, everyone!

Raisin’ Cane (and web archiving too!)

Mount Dora High School is “Cane Country.” Located in Mount Dora, Florida, this high school is one of fifty learning  sites that comprises the Lake County School district.[1] After just one visit to the Mount Dora High School website, you’ll probably notice two things:

1) Mount Dora’s colors are orange and white.

2) Mount Dora’s mascot is a Hurricane, and this school is proud of it!

What you might not notice, however, is the “Our School” tab toward the top of the home page. A gentle drag over this tab results in a drop-down menu displaying a few options, one being the Media Center. Go ahead, click “Media Center.” Seriously, do it 🙂 Okay, once you make it to the Media Center’s page, you’ll see a few options on the left hand side that you might expect, like “Media Center Information,” “Reading blog,” “Research Sites and Guidelines,” etc. But look again, and you’ll probably see something that you won’t find on a typical media center website. You’ll see “Web Archiving Project.”

View Mount Dora’s awesome web archiving trailer!! (Click on the link below)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aUqmaL4Lcg

Mount Dora High School has been an Archive-It K-12 partner since October 2010. Thanks to Ms. Patricia Carlton, one of Mount Dora’s wonderfully dedicated media specialists and the sole driver of the school’s web archiving partnership with Archive-It, Mount Dora students have created thirty web archive collections and preserved over three-hundred and fifty URLs. These web archive collections are diverse and range in topic from “Politics 2012” to “Modern Music” to “Social Networking.”[2]  I recently had a lovely Skype conversation with Ms. Carlton to chat about her experience implementing the Archive-It K-12 program at Mount Dora High School. Here’s an overview of our great conversation:

How long have you been an educator?

Ms. Carlton has been an educator for thirty years, and she’s been a media specialist for twenty-two of those years. “I love libraries,” Ms. Carlton said. Prior to working on the library side of education, Ms. Carlton taught English and art, and she has worked with students of all ages.

How many years have you been involved in the Library of Congress/Archive-It K-12 Web Archiving Program?

Seven or eight years. 

How did you find out about the web archiving program?

Ms. Carlton became acquainted with the web archiving program after attending one of the Library of Congress’ summer institutes for educators. She had the pleasure of meeting Neme Alperstein, a teacher in a New York City public school, P.S. 174, who encouraged her to get involved with web archiving. Ms. Carlton began implementing the web archiving program with AP Geography students at Eustis High School. When she transferred to Mount Dora, she implemented the program in an English class. Ms. Carlton happily stated that “each year seems to get better and better.”

What made you interested in the program?

Ms. Carlton took her time with this question. “That has evolved,” she said. She was initially intrigued by the program because of its national connection with the Library of Congress. Once she started working with the program, however, her interest deepened. “I wanted to become better at teaching it.” Now, “the idea of preservation” is what really fascinates her. “What interests me now is this whole new way of looking at websites,” she explained. Both she and her students are “learning a lot about digital literacy” through the program while also gaining a new perspective on history. Ms. Carlton summed it up perfectly: “It’s about us saving our heritage.”   

How do students select websites?

Ms. Carlton begins by showing students examples of web archive collections from previous years and schools. She explains to her students that “archives are collections.” She tells them, “Think of your local community [and] what is important to teen culture. We are going to represent ourselves to the world.” Basically, her students “have to write what their collection is going to be and why it’s significant to them. Then they surf the web.”  Ms. Carlton wants the collections to be as student generated as possible, but occasionally she does provide guidance. “Over the years, I kept seeing the same collections—music, sports, etc.” She felt like her students could go farther than that. “This past year, I had them think about global issues that might affect them personally.” Ms. Carlton found that her students began “taking their subjects seriously” and came up with sites focusing on the environment, ecology, and other social issues.

Do students catch on to the technological requirements for the project easily?

“Yes, mainly the team leaders,” Ms. Carlton said. She admitted that there are sometimes technical issues with the network, causing students to lose the metadata they created. Hence, she always encourages them to write it out first. Another technological learning experience that her students had was with “budgeting.” Ms. Carlton’s students have a specific budget of data and space they can use during the web archiving project. Some students “used up their budget very quickly because the sites they chose had a lot of embedded videos,” she said. Students had to learn that “you don’t just simply archive a website … you limit it.”  

How has web archiving benefited your students?

“They feel important,” Ms. Carlton said without a doubt. Her students love knowing they are part of a big program. In addition, Ms. Carlton noted the many educational benefits her students have received through the program. Through web archiving, students learn how to evaluate and deconstruct a website’s content; they learn that websites have messages and are created by many authors; students also learn that they have to be responsible when archiving sites because “every bit of data is space.” At a certain point, they must decide, “what’s important and what’s not.”

What challenges have you run into?

  Ms. Carlton said that getting school and community support can be a challenge. She noted, however, that working with supportive teachers helps a lot. At Mount Dora High School, one of the history teachers she worked with was extremely enthusiastic, and this “enthusiasm carried over to her students.” Ms. Carlton explained that getting support is “always an ongoing thing.”   

Are there any curriculum materials you wished you had to help you further integrate web archiving into the school curriculum?

“That would help,” Ms. Carlton affirmed. “When I introduce it, I tend to rely on the Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources.” Beyond that, “I [don’t] really have anything to go off of.” Ms. Carlton would like to see resources that provide her with another way of teaching the history of the web and the structure of the web. “I’ve pretty much learned as I’ve gone along, periodically looking at other teachers’ collections and resources. “I would love to collaborate with other teachers,” she mentioned. Ms. Carlton also suggested the use of rubrics and tutorials to help educators make web archiving a part of the school curriculum.

Ms. Patricia Carlton and the students of Mount Dora High School have truly done an amazing job with web archiving. The collections are diverse, thoughtful, and really speak to the issues and passions that are unique to teenagers and to residents of Mount Dora, Florida. One of my favorites is the “Life in Mount Dora, Florida” collection. As someone who has never lived in Florida and who knows very little about Mount Dora, this collection gives me a peek into the lives that these students live every day. Check out this collection along with many more created by Mount Dora students by using these links:

https://archive-it.org/organizations/498/?show=Collections

https://archive-it.org/k12/10MountDoraHS.html

And of course…Go Canes!!

mount dora logo

[1] “About Us,” Lake County Schools, accessed June 23, 2015, http://www.lake.k12.fl.us/domain/7745

[2] “Mount Dora High School,” Archive-It, accessed June 23, 2015, https://archive-it.org/organizations/498.

Show me your web search history, and I’ll show you who you are.

There are a few things in this world that I love to hate. One of them is my web search history. I hate it because it provides such a raw, unedited look into my life. While the majority of my search history is filled with the same, repeating domains (www.google.com, www.clayton.edu, www.gmail.com, www.facebook.com, www.linkedin.com, www.arl.org, www.youtube.com, www.outlook.office.365.com), it doesn’t change the fact that my search history reminds me of everything I’ve looked at online, uncouth or not (yes, I am human…I’ve made some uh…”questionable” site visits in my lifetime). Basically, my web search history is a look into my personal life that I didn’t ask to be accessible.

However…

I can’t help but love my web search history, essentially, for the same reasons I hate it. Without asking my permission, my laptop stores a list of URLs  that it thinks are important to me based on the sites I visit each day. If someone next week, a year from now, or even 100 years from now managed to get a hold of this web search history and could still see the sites, what would they think of me? What would this web history tell them about my personality, my interests, my activities, my life?

The Archive-It K-12 Web Archiving Program asks these same questions to primary and secondary students. Today’s students are growing up in an age where the Internet and the Web are vital components of their personal, academic, and societal development. Websites facilitate learning, social interaction, shopping, recreation, creativity, and much more. Remember that saying, “show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are”? Well, I think the saying, “Show me your web search history, and I’ll show you who you are” is becoming more and more appropriate. While most students enjoy interactions with the Web as a part of daily life, they may not realize that the websites they know and love will not be there forever. According to the archivist Jackie Dooley, “without periodic harvesting of all this [web content] information, the content is gone, gone, gone.”[1] As websites vanish before our eyes, the culture we’ve created around these sites becomes more and more at risk with every passing day.

The K-12 Web Archiving Program (https://archive-it.org/k12/introduction.html) began in 2008 thanks to a partnership between the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov) and Archive-It (https://archive-it.org), a web archiving service powered by the Internet Archive. Through this program, students have the opportunity to select, capture, and preserve websites for future generations of researchers. The program gives students the chance to save websites that represent their lives and that are important to them. It gives K-12 students a voice in the historical record while empowering them with knowledge and skills in digital preservation and archival literacy. Recently, I had the great pleasure of chatting with Cheryl Lederle, an Educational Resource Specialist at the Library of Congress. Ms. Lederle has played a major role in the growth, development, and promotion of the student web archiving program. I’ve included some pieces of our conversation below.

How did the K-12 Web Archiving Program come about?

“One of the biggest user  groups [K-12 students] was not represented in the Archive-It collections,” Ms. Lederle said. After the pilot program in the spring of 2008, “there was a general consensus that [students] should be a part of the decision making” of web preservation.

What were some of the program’s initial goals?

According to Ms. Lederle, the program was intended to be “eye opening for many of the students” by helping them realize “how ephemeral many websites are.” Since Ms. Lederle is a former English teacher herself, she also noted the importance of allowing students to write the metadata that accompanies their archived web collections. “Even very young people—with the right support—can do it,” she said confidently.

What challenges did you foresee/experience in the program’s early days?

Ms. Lederle said it was challenging to figure out “how to make [the program] connect to curricular needs.” In fact, this is still a challenge. She explained that most schools involved in the web archiving program do so as a part of library programs or after-school programs that remain outside of “tightly prescribed” school curricula. However, Ms. Lederle mentioned that some educators, including Paul Bogush [link to: http://www.digitalpreservation.gov//multimedia/videos/k12preservingpresent.html] from James H. Moran Middle School [link to: http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/multimedia/videos/k12webarchiving.html]  in Wallingford, CT, have been able to incorporate the web archiving program into history and social studies courses. Web archiving teaches students that “who is preserving history is in fact writing history.”

How did you react when you saw the first student web archive collection?

In addition to the expected feelings of surprise and excitement, Ms. Lederle emphasized how pleased she was to look at the collections and say, “This [collection] is student work.” Ms. Lederle observed that the collections generally represent the students themselves, not the adults guiding them.

In what ways can this program benefit students and their awareness of the world around them?    

According to Ms. Lederle, web archiving “empowers students to take a long view of history” and encourages them “to be a part of the recording of history.” She also said web archiving helps students to understand that “preserving digital materials is trickier” than preserving analog ones . The web has an ephemeral nature that analog materials do not. Ms. Lederle gave the example of a box of letters. While the letters may be hidden or misplaced at some point in history and need to be found again, they will not vanish. Web archiving teaches students that digital materials are different—”this stuff might simply disappear.”

One of the best parts about the K-12 Web Archiving Program is that the student collections are easily available to the public for browsing and searching. The Archive-It website has made over two hundred students collections available for research, and these collections are searchable by subject, collector, creator, date, etc. (https://archive-it.org/explore?fc=organizationType%3Ak12ProjectSchools).  Each school also has its own web archiving page for each year it participates in the program. My next few blog posts are going to take a deeper look into these K-12 collections. I’ll also include some of my discussions with teachers who have participated in the program with their students. Get excited, y’all!

[1] Jackie, Dooley, “Going, going, gone: The imperative for archiving the web,” hangingtogether.org (blog), OCLC, April 22, 2015, http://hangingtogether.org/?p=5140.