iPhone Walking Tour of Historic Japantown Portland

» 01 February 2014 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects, Students » No Comments

japantownpdx

I’m pleased to introduce you to Japantown PDX, a free iPhone app that I designed with the assistance of the Nikkei Legacy Center, GammaPoint LLC, and my students at the University of Portland. Explore Portland Oregon’s historic Japantown with this user-friendly walking tour. The city’s vibrant pre WWII Japanese American community is archived in over 125 photographs and audio clips. This GPS-enabled app guides you through Portland’s eight block Japantown, a bustling community in the early decades of the twentieth century - better known today as the colorful Old Town / Chinatown neighborhood. Map

Japantown PDX Judo Obukan

The free iOS app documents the vitality of this once thriving “Nihonmachi” and its sudden disappearance in the spring of 1942 when all persons of Japanese ancestry were removed from the West Coast and placed in America’s concentration camps during WWII. In addition to telling Portland’s Japantown story, the app explores the remarkably diverse Old Town neighborhood in tour stops that honor its African American, Chinese and LGBT roots.

Todd Mayberry, the Director of Collections and Exhibits at Nikkei Legacy Center speaks to the role this app can play in promoting the historic importance of Portland's Nihonmachi and the need to preserve it from the ever-present threat of historically inappropriate over development.

"This innovative app will guide users beyond the walls of our museum and into the heart of Portland’s historic Japanese American community. Explore our streets and buildings guided by our narrator and mapped collections of photographs. We can't wait to welcome you back to our home."

App Features
Our goal was to design a user-friendly app suitable for all technical “abilities.” We began by surveying the Nikkei Center’s rich collection of historic photos for location-specific images. The most notable and well-documented became our tour stops. When we had historic exterior shots we photographed the contemporary scene replicating the view. Thus users can watch historic Japantown street life reappear in “then and now” dynamic photographic dissolves. Each stop has multiple historic and contemporary images, text and an audio narration. We had many historic photos that told the story of a vibrant community, but they lacked location. We decided to include them in the app as a “Gallery Section.” The app also allows users to share image content with built in Facebook and Twitter buttons.

Then and Now Photo Japantown PDX

We also wanted to weave in an underlying narrative - the story of WWII’s Executive Order 9066, the forced incarceration of the neighborhood’s Japanese Americans first at the “temporary” Portland Assembly Center and eventually at the Minidoka concentration camp located in southern Idaho. While the app is location based, we elected to give it an narrative arc that begins with an opening audio greeting voiced by Jean Matsumoto who grew up in the pre-WWII Japantown. Jean and her family were among over 110,000 Japanese Americans that were removed from the West Coast and incarcerated without trial. The app details other stories of forced relocation and re-population of the the neighborhood after the war and invites users to learn more by exploring the exhibits at the Nikkei Legacy Center in the heart of historic Japantown. Map

UP Students Explore Nikkei Center Exhibits

UP Students Explore Nikkei Center Concentration Camp Exhibit

About the Project Team
This app grew out of a collaboration between my Social Studies Methods class at the University of Portland and the Nikkei Legacy Center. It was one of three curriculum design projects undertaken by students in support of the museum’s educational outreach. For more see my post Student Consultants Design Museum Curriculum and Mobile App. 

Japantown PDX Map view

My class served two roles in the app development - the entire class became our focus group - discussing what they thought needed to be in the app - both from the perspective of user experience and their growing knowledge of the history of Portland’s Japantown. Three student’s worked more directly - narration (Aram Glick), audio recording (Collin Soderberg-Chase) and logo (Samuel TS Kelly). I worked closely with Todd Mayberry to select content and images.

The other key team member was GammaPoint LLC a Portland-based mobile app developer and designers of my favorite workout app - WeatherRun. GammaPoint was interested in designing a user-friendly platform that would allow organizations to develop their own tour apps with a minimum amount of assistance. Our project served as their beta. We worked with GammaPoint on developing the tour design, generating prototypes which were then evaluated by my students and Nikkei Center. For example, we discovered that while we had a wealth of video interviews of former Japantown residents, their file size bloated the app. We used plist files to upload data to GammaPoint and tested their new web-based upload tool. It has now evolved into GammaPoint’s App4Tour which promises to be an affordable way for users to create their own multi-media rich tours with minimum of technical assistance.

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See You At integratED Conference #iPDX14

» 12 January 2014 » In Ed Tech, Events, Presentations, Students » No Comments

ipdx14-featured

I’m looking forward to presenting at integratED Portland 2014 February 26–28, 2014. It’s a premier edtech conference features active hands-on sessions with an impressive team of presenters. I’m honored to be doing two workshops. Here’s my previews

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Tips for Motivating Student Writers with iBooks Author

» 05 January 2014 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, Publishing, Students » 9 Comments

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My preservice teachers just published an iBook collection of document-based questions in US and World History. It’s now available free at iTunes. Here’s some tips on how to turn your students into published authors.

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Music and the Vietnam Anti-War Movement

» 30 December 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects » No Comments

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One of my University of Portland pre-service teachers showcases his online DBQ “The Vietnam War.” It explores the relationship between the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war as reflected in the music videos of the era.

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The Power of Propaganda: A Student-Designed DBQ

» 29 December 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects » No Comments

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One of my University of Portland pre-service teachers showcases his online DBQ “The Power of Propaganda.” It documents WWII and Cold War-era films and posters from multiple perspectives.

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Two Worlds Meet: Europeans in the New World

» 27 December 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects » No Comments

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One of my University of Portland pre-service teachers showcases his online DBQ “Cross-Cultural Contact Between Native American and European Conquerors.” It documents European – Native American contact in the Age of Exploration.

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The Easter Rising: Irish Rebellion 1916

» 19 December 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects » No Comments

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One of my University of Portland pre-service teachers showcases his online DBQ – “The Irish Revolutionary Period.” It challenges students to think about the timing, participants, and significance of the Irish War of Independence, ensuing Civil War, and continued conflict over the country’s partition. Peter Gallagher also reflects on the experience of designing DBQs.

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Media Manipulation: Vietnam War DBQ

» 17 December 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects » 1 Comment

LSU-Vietnam-war-protest-1970--featured

One of my University of Portland pre-service teachers showcases his online DBQ – “Media and War: An Analysis of Vietnam War Propaganda.” It provides a selection of media from opposing perspectives and asks the reader to answer the following question: How does media impact our perception of war? Damian Wierzbicki also reflects on the experience of designing DBQs.

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Anne Frank: A Primary Source DBQ

» 15 December 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects, Students » No Comments

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One of my University of Portland pre-service teachers showcases her online DBQ – “Anne Frank: A Timeless Story.” She explores Anne’s diary as historic source document. Erin Deatherage also reflects on the experience of designing DBQs.

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Visions of Freedom: The American Revolution

» 08 December 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, Projects, Students » 2 Comments

Phillis Wheatley featured

I’ve asked my University of Portland students to reflect on a DBQ assignment and invited them to guest post on my blog. Here is “Visions of Freedom: The American Revolution” – a DBQ designed by Collin Soderberg-Chase. This DBQ presents multiple “views of freedom” viewed through the “lenses” of differing perspectives held during American revolutionary era. The essential question examines what factors influence one’s vision of freedom.

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