Our Project (Initial Iteration)

As you can see from the previous entry, I’ll be combining three learning threads (NPS History/Policy, Civil War Memory/Commemoration, & Interpretation/Digital Storytelling/Podcasting) in this quarter’s class.

One of the questions I’ve already received is this: what exactly is the project?

We will work directly from NPS guiding documents, focusing on three that you’ll find in the resources section in the right-hand column: the NPS report to Congress entitled Holding the High Ground, the NPS’ Civil War 150th Anniversary Vision Statement, and the NPS media plan Civil War 150th: Podcasts. Holding the High Ground. Each quarter (3 month period) during the four years, one of the 16 themes will be featured and the three monthly audio podcast episodes that quarter will directly tie to it.

With the caveat that all projects can (and often do) morph during the development process, the following represents what we’ve envisioned as the first iteration.

After some initial thought and discussion, what we’d like to create a detailed plan for 48 monthly audio podcasts over the four years of the sesquicentennial. These would directly tie to the 16 interpretive themes established in

In the plan, we will make specific recommendations as to possible parks and specific stories to feature, toward a goal of having no repeating parks/stories and at least 48 different NPS units represented. This will give us three specific podcasts to highlight each one of the 16 themes, spread out over four years. If time allows, we will also research, write, and record at least one model podcast.

This leaves us with some initial direction but a lot of room for creativity, too. Will the final plan resemble this first iteration? We’ll see!

Any initial thoughts?


About Greg Shine

Adjunct faculty in the History Department at Portland State University, where I teach historic site interpretation. Former Chief Ranger & Historian at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
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7 Responses to Our Project (Initial Iteration)

  1. Pingback: Parks to Illustrate CW150 Themes: A Preliminary List | Interpreting the American Civil War

  2. Greg Shine says:

    Good points all. I, too, think Doug’s idea deserves some in-class consideration. Perhaps we could build in the option for folks to add static media to the audio podcast, utilizing such tools as the Ken Burns Effect (or its equivalent) available on many platforms.

  3. Shawn Daley says:

    I think you both raise good points about the addition of video, and I like Doug’s idea of maybe going with a slide show. Using the Ken Burns effect in either iMovie or iPhoto could allow us to make something presentable while not risking that amateur-esque quality that we want to avoid. I have seen fairly professional work done by students younger than us using decent cameras, which have become relatively inexpensive (a good voice recorder and a decent HD camcorder are logging in at only 40-50 bucks apart at Best Buy these days). I actually have access to 5 HD camcorders (they are hand-helds though) and 10 digital voice recorders that we could use so the Fort doesn’t need to buy them for this program (they are mine, so I’m at liberty to loan them).

    That said, I think that Greg’s comment on time frame may be apt, and additionally the other piece (which I had forgotten) of trying to get the other parks to follow suit with a high quality audio podcast may be more achievable than even a medium quality video podcast. Having edited film before, trying to get something for NPS distribution may by default require a few hours that none of us having working with Final Cut Pro…

    At the same time, having been in a school classroom not too long ago, and having a wife who teaches middle school (and two kids in elementary), I’ve found that even though students love listening to music, they are less snared by audio presentations than by something visual. So as we think of trying to reach everyone, I think it is important to consider that school-age group and how they best acquire knowledge. In reflecting on the readings and the misinformation that exists, having a youth-friendly product may lend to students getting that comprehensive picture that their parents didn’t get. As such, I like Doug’s slide show idea, and volunteer myself to help assemble that if we opt to go that route.

  4. Shawn Daley says:

    Greg (and others)-

    Out of curiosity, could we take this a step further and propose/add video to some of the podcasts? Since we are working at a site, could we scheme a video offering. I was simply thinking that in this “YouTube age” we may get even more play in the general public if we were able to offer to the public a handful (maybe 1/4 of the podcasts) a video perspective.

    • hst409509 says:

      I’m open to the suggestion. What’s the general consensus?

      As a little background, I considered video podcasts while initially planning the course, but opted for audio podcasts for a few different reasons. First, I wanted us to craft a proposal that would be realistic for and achievable by parks. The equipment and expertise required to produce an audio podcast, I think, is slightly less expensive and has less of a learning curve than a video podcast. (I could be off-base here — comments?)

      At this point, podcast production in the NPS is still in its infancy, and I worry that creating a standard of video podcasts might overwhelm park planners and decisionmakers already hamstrung by reduced staff and budgets. For producing audio, participating parks could use a digital audio recorder (many available for under $100) and/or a microphone, along with free software like Audacity, to produce a passable product. Building in video production implies use of a digital video camera, video editing software, and skill/experience producing video output.

      In addition, the timeline constraints of our project seem to point me more towards audio podcasts. I’ve found that audio storytelling is distinctly different than video storytelling, and thus far I’ve structured the course around an audio focus. Personally, I connect better with audio podcasts that allow me to experience a resource visually while listening (instead of keeping my head down and watching a video) but again, that’s my personal bias and I need to look at the project from a broader perspective, perhaps.

      That being said, I’m certainly game for discussing the use of video, especially if I am overlooking the benefits of, as you adeptly term it, connecting to the “YouTube age.”

      As you can see from the readings, one of the early steps in planning a program is identifying the audience. That being said, how do you think we define our audience for this project? To best serve our audience, is video an important medium to revisit? (NOTE: This is a question for everyone, not just Shawn.)


      • Doug K-C says:

        Video does seem like a good recommendation, but as you stated, it could also be expensive.

        If one is using a Mac, Garage Band has an “enhanced podcast” feature, which allows users to add a slide show to the audio podcast track. It would seem to me that most NPS staffs would have access to a ton of photographs (digital) that could be added to the podcast, giving a “video-esque” feel to the production. I think that this could then be uploaded onto YouTube, and one may have an inexpensive way to produce a video like presentation for a much lower cost.

        And lets be honest – a ton of amateurish video looks pretty, well, bad…

  5. Melissa Swank says:

    This sounds very interesting and different than any project I’ve been involved in. I’m excited for the experience!


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