- A brief summary of your project and its aims
My project is titled “Life During War”. The idea behind the project is based on the realisation that we are fortunate enough to have people who lived through wars in the 20th Century, and that we will soon lose everyone that was alive during World War 2. This means that kids that are currently in their early years of primary school are highly unlikely to have the opportunity to have a WW2 survivor stand in front of them and tell them their story – which I was lucky enough to experience.
- A discussion of what you learned through the project. What went well? What difficulties did you have?
There were several issues and difficulties along the way with both creating the data set and in its presentation.
Firstly, it took me a few weeks to come up with an idea that was viable. The weeks I lost trying to find an idea meant that I felt stressed and concerned that I had already fallen behind. However, I did eventually come up with an idea and finished it as best as I could in the time given.
To create the data set I would use in my project, I had to edit the video footage of the interview – something I had absolutely no experience with. There were a lot of moments where I thought I had completely stuffed things up, accidentally deleted things for good, or second-guessed my editing decisions.
It was during the editing process that I discovered that in the middle of John saying something, the camera loses focus and then refocuses – all of this is audible on the video. This is unfortunate, but it is in the middle of a story and I didn’t want to cut the whole story out. Thus, it has been left in.
Due to time constraints, I had to use Omeka for my project. Since I had only used it once before and that was a year ago, I had to re-acquaint myself with it. This took a lot of trial and error and also asking for help. With Omeka, I didn’t have the freedom to create the visual layout that I had imagined, so I had to stop and think through how I could achieve the type of layout I wanted using the tools available to me on Omeka. The layout journey led me into multiple formatting issues, which I have solved as best as I can.
I went in to this with the thought that with Australia being part of the Commonwealth, the National Library’s Trove site would have a lot of newspaper articles for me to choose from. Instead I discovered that Trove has a lot of entries about rationing in Michigan, Detroit, and the occasional British entry. I also discovered that Australia’s online newspaper archive is better than Britain’s, especially since you don’t need to use credits to open an article in Trove.
When I thought about putting the elements of my project together, I had thought that embedding would come back to me just like that. I was very wrong. The only thing I didn’t have any issues with was finding the embedding inks for Youtube videos and Google My Maps.
Though many things didn’t quite go to plan or were difficult, there were some good things about it.
I believe that my project lives up to its aim and I look forward to a student learning from it, or at least finding it interesting.
I am thankful that my finding people to interview was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I was lucky that my mother’s old boss and his wife – who are close family friends – were children in England during World War 2, which fitted very nicely with my project idea. A bonus was that they are very interesting people and were happy for me to interview and film them.
- Your assessment of how successful the project is in meeting your original aims.
Because I ended up using Omeka, I didn’t have as much freedom with the layout as I originally hoped to have in order to create what I had pictured in my mind. As such, the project hasn’t been 100% successful in meeting my original design and layout aims.
However, I feel that the aim in doing this project in the first place has been met – I have recorded and told the experiences of two people who grew up during World War 2. I believe that I have succeeded in this, and now when my nieces and nephews are old enough to learn about the war, I will be able to show them the stories of real people who were there so that they can hear first-hand accounts, like I have, and see the lifelong effects of war so that they will grow up with empathy in their hearts and a dislike of war – what more could an Aunt ask for.
I aimed for this project to be used by high school students. And although the design isn’t ideal, I believe it serves its purpose and has a user-friendly interface which should allow any student to use it.
- Some thoughts on how the project might be extended. Did you have ideas you weren’t able to pursue?
The current premise of the project is to document the experiences of growing up during war. This could be extended to cover anyone alive during that war, such as asking someone what it was like being sitting at home watching a horrific war take place that could have devastating effects on the entire world knowing there was not much that they could do about it.
The name of the project, “Life During War”, is specifically named not to specify one particular war, and is instead more general. The vague nature of the name allows it to be used for any war. If I had the opportunity, I would like to extend the project to cover the major wars that followed World War Two. I would ideally cover the wars in chronological order, starting with the Korean War and then the Vietnam War. With the Vietnam War, I could potentially interview my Dad about what it was like to see your best mate go off to fight in a war because of conscription.