1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
We used the computers available in OHS 219 during school, and our own home PCs outside of school. The school PCs that we used were all made by Brite Computers of Rochester, New York.
We also relied quite heavily on the use of software provided by the open-source community. Our web site was made using a freely available content management system called PostNuke. Even the multi-color themes that we incorporated in our site are freely available for download from ClassroomRevolution.com. In order to maintain effective communication and documentation throughout this project, our team also set up an online classroom on our school's DigitalOHS web site. This resources was made possible through the freely available Multiple Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment known as Moodle.
A variety of industry-standard software application aided us in creating our content, particularly the graphics and animations. Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop served as our platform for creating and editing the images that we have used on our web site. The animations used to illustrate various examples of diplomacy were made using Macromedia Flash. Any necessary HTML-editing was handled using the Java-based editor included in PostNuke, or with Microsoft FrontPage, or Macromedia Dreamweaver.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
We acted as ambassadors of the United States while working on our project in several different ways. Mr. Caswell provided us with email addresses for members of the local SUNY Oswego History Department, as well as the local Safe Haven Museum. In addition, we contacted the Roberson Museum in Binghamton, New York, as well as Seneca County Historian Walter Gable via email. We sought their feedback on our work, and also hoped that they might each contribute to the ongoing conversation about diplomacy that we are trying to achieve.
Our work has also became a teaching tool that has been used by members of the OHS Social Studies Department in order to provide their students with an innovative perspective regarding foreign policy. Several of these local students have even posted responses on our site’s discussion forums.
Finally, local entrepreneur Jeffery Watkins provided the open-source template themes that we used on our site. We also received regular feedback from Watkins regarding the direction and layout of our site. He was able to suggest several ways that we could best use PostNuke to our advantage. Watkins also has provided viable web space for our project through his company ClassroomRevolution.com.
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
While it is still probably too early to tell with any certainty, we believe that our web site has begun to impact how people in our community view diplomatic issues. Local students have had an opportunity to not only benefit from our content and animations, but have even become engaged in discussing diplomatic issues in our site’s forums.
Our site has also become a means for those people and institutions with a vested interest in diplomacy to make the community aware of their existence. Our discussion forum serves a need by creating a place where our local community resources can be showcased and promote the free exchange of ideas. In addition, site visitors are also able to interact with our online polls, thereby creating a sense of ownership in the content found there.
In essence, our site has shown considerable promise as an engaging and effective resource for those who wish to learn about and promote diplomatic issues.
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
We have sought the feedback and insight of several members of members of our local community. These would include: members of the SUNY Oswego History Department, members of the OHS Social Studies Department, employees of the Safe Haven Museum, and ClassroomRevolution.com, a local business. These members of the community have selflessly offered their expertise to us in several ways, including critiquing our content, piloting the use of our site as a learning tool, and providing valuable services such as web hosting.
We also decided to go outside of our local community in an attempt to bring in other agencies found in the Central New York area. The Roberson Museum located in Binghamton, as well as the Seneca County Historian, have both helped us ensure that our content is appropriate and useful to all people across the region.
Of course, we realize that without the efforts of these individuals and institutions from our community, our web site would have far less appeal, and we cannot begin to thank them enough for the time and services that they have provided to us.
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
This has been a profound learning experience for all of those involved in our project. The various network glitches and software bugs that we discovered along the way, further reinforced our impression that while technology can be a wonderful tool, it also brings its own set of complexities. We’ve also learned how technology such as Moodle can be used to foster a sense of community within our own group, while also allowing us to document our project, exchange ideas, and submit completed work that needed to be posted on the site. one of our student members was even able to try new techniques using audio files while designing several of the Flash animations that appear on our site. Each student assumed a specialized role as graphic designers or content specialists. This allowed the tasks to be easily broken up and assigned to members of the group. In doing so we also modeled the production environment that we may one day work in as web designers in our own right.