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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Get a iPhone 5s Or Switch to Android?

» 06 September 2013 » In Commentary » 7 Comments

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With my iPhone 4s about to go off contract, I’m wondering should I go iPhone 5s / iOS 7 or Android? I pick up a Nexus 7 to test how I’ll move my content from iCloud to Google and stay in sync with my Mac desktop. And I offer some comparisons of programs running on both platforms.

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Boston Bombings: Close Reading A Media Frenzy

» 26 April 2013 » In Commentary, Literacy, Social Web, Strategies » No Comments

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Here’s a suggestion for high school teachers. Postpone a lesson you had planned for next week and use the time to explore the cacophonous infosphere spawned by the apprehension of the suspects in the Boston bombings. If that media circus tells us anything, it’s that we need a lesson in digital hygiene and responsible use.

It’s also a good chance for students to hone their close reading skills. The events should be fresh in everyone’s mind. Ask students to reflect back on network news and social media coverage of the manhunt using these three critical thinking prompts: What did it say? How did it say it? What’s it mean to me?

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#Watertown #MITShooting: Unfiltered News vs Speculation

» 19 April 2013 » In Commentary, Social Web, Visualizations » No Comments

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This morning, Twitter broke the story of the events in Watertown MA. Following the hashtags #Watertown and #MITShooting, I selected a few of the early tweets for a Storify. Twitter scooped the major news organizations, but are we ready to curate our own news?

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How to Create A PLC with Google+ Hangout

» 19 February 2013 » In Ed Tech, How To, PD, Social Web, Teachers, Web 2.0 » No Comments

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A step-by-step description of how a team of teachers used a G+ Hangout to manage their PLC sessions. It includes details about managing the Hangout, using it to analyze student work, and building meaningful collegial relationships. It’s a very helpful post for anyone looking for practical information on using G+ Hangouts.

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Infographic: Google+ is a Ghost Town

» 21 September 2012 » In Visualizations » 8 Comments

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Data comparing key metrics from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Digging beneath the number of accounts to data on activity and sharing. Some fuel for the debate: Google Plus – “It’s Really Popular Vs It’s A Ghost Town.”
When’s the last time you checked your G+?

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Excellent Sheep and Our Crisis of Leadership

» 21 February 2012 » In Commentary, Leadership, Reflection, Students » 3 Comments

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Test prep courses, admissions coaches, private tutors. … So what I saw around me were great kids who had been trained to be world-class hoop jumpers. …They were, as one of them put it herself, “excellent sheep.”

We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place.

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How to Market Yourself Online? Freely Share Quality Content

» 12 February 2012 » In Commentary, How To, Publishing, Social Web » 2 Comments

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A how to for growing an audience for your thinking and my response to the question “If you could use only one method to market yourself online, what would do?”

It begins with freely sharing quality content. I use the Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0 license. Use it, share it, remix it. Just tell people where you got it, and don’t try and sell it. Remember, as the price of commodity drops, consumption increases. I include tips for using URL shorteners, hashtags and blog comments to drive traffic back to your site.

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Curating the Backchannel at the 3rd edcampPDX

» 04 February 2012 » In Events, PD, Social Web, Teachers, Visualizations » No Comments

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The 3rd edcampPDX is being held Feb 4, 2012 at Catlin Gabel School in Portland Oregon. This Storify serves as a permanent archive of the event’s social media backchannel. I’m following the hashtag #edcampPDX.
An edcamp is a unconference-style day of professional development organized and given by the local participants. It’s free, democratic, participant-driven professional development. Great teachers, interesting conversations and an excellent chance to network.

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Big Ideas and the Relevant Classroom

» 14 August 2011 » In Commentary, History / DBQ's, Students » No Comments

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When it came to time to study the debate over the ratification of the constitution, my students didn’t have to ask the question – “why do we need to study this?” They realized that they were looking at “Round 1″ of an ongoing debate over how strong the central government should be.

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