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When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dig Deeper...into the Digital Vaults

Another web 2.0 application caught the attention of the American Library Association branch, American Association of School Librarians, and is listed on their Top 25 Websites for Teaching and Learning, 2011.  Under the Standards for 21st Century Learners, Content Resources:  Lesson Plans and More 2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information, 2.4.4 Develop directions for future investigations, and 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners, Digital Vaults is named. 

As stated in their press release:

 The National Archives new "Digital Vaults" exhibit delivers an online experience that is unlike any other. With a database of some 1,200 documents, photographs, drawings, maps, and other materials and a keywording system that visually links records, the Digital Vaults enables visitors to customize their exhibit experience and to create posters, movies, and games that can be shared by e-mail. Each record in Digital Vaults is also linked to the National Archives' Archival Research Catalog (ARC), so visitors who want to know more can take the first steps toward a research journey into the National Archives. ...

The site has a special interactive resources section for educators and students. Teachers can get great ideas on lesson plans using reproducible primary sources, find information on teaching activities correlated to National Teaching Standards, and engage in a variety of professional development programs - on-site or online. Students can explore the depth and diversity of the holdings of the National Archives for their own school projects, gear up for National History Day, or even pick up a virtual pen and sign the Declaration of Independence.

Once the site has loaded click on the Continue tab in the lower right hand corner. The next screen presents a visual of eight random records. 

Click on one of them to begin or click on the shuffle records tab for another selection.

When you select one of the records, this screen will appear.  The tabs on the left of the screen depict the tags that are assigned to each of the records as well as types of filtering of the records.  Records can be filtered by any or all of the tags, media types (artwork/artifacts, audio, data, document, map, other, photograph, poster or video), time frames (American history by segments) and most relevant or reverse relevance.

When your mouse is moved over any one of the records a box pops up on the screen naming the record, asking if you want to move it to the center or view the record in detail.

When viewing a record in detail another frame appears.  This frame gives an informative synopsis, option for moving the record to the center, adding it to your collection, zooming in or out on the record or printing it.  Tags, subject headings, for that particular item are also given.  Extra tabs such as educational resources or additional resources might appear depending on the record.  For in-depth information on every  item searches can be conducted in the Archival Research Catalog.

At the bottom of each screen are buttons for Collect, Backtrack, Pathways, Search and Create.

Any of the records can be dragged and dropped into the collection tray. The collection tray can be viewed by clicking on the Collect button. When a record is loaded for more detail it automatically appears in the collection tray.  Items can be removed from the tray be dragging and dropping them onto the remove square.  When you click on an item in your tray again you can see options available for that record such as move to center, more detail or remove. 

When selecting the Backtrack button all items that were placed in the center can be viewed.  This allows the user to retrace their steps in navigating through the vault.

If users wish to test their knowledge about connected items select the Pathways button.  A series of clues will lead to disclosure of the association between the records.  Users can create their own pathways, too.

The Search button provides two types of searches; by using a keyword or choosing a tag term from a list.

By choosing the Create button users can generate a poster, a movie or once again a new pathway.

 A new background, clip art and text can be added to a poster. 

When designing a movie a background color can be chosen, four different audio backgrounds are available, a title screen can be placed in the movie, and scenes can be added by dragging them to the timeline.

To save any work register by entering in your email address and a password.  Completed work can be sent to others via email.

Digital Vaults is a virtual goldmine of primary source knowledge relative to American history.

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