Recalling the experience of learning history and working with variety historical learning tools this semester, my thoughts regarding history learning and digital tools have been changed drastically. When I was taking world history and American history in high school, textbook was the main tool for me to learn history, as well as lectures and notes that I took in class. I was not interested in history because I usually get bored reading through hundreds of pages of texts.
However, my thoughts had been changed after I used text analysis tool in class this semester. Text Analysis, a method that gains information from unstructured text data, is one of the important things that I learned in this class that helps me doing historical reading. Text analysis can be used not only in historical content, but also other research area, emails, articles, and etc. In class, I learned how to use Voyant to do text analysis and it changed the way I used to learn history. Voyant extracts important information from the content, such as words that frequent used in the document, vocabulary density, average words per sentences. Therefore, I can use those information to determine the topic and draw hypothesis of the content. Another advantage of Voyant is that I can upload two or more documents so that I can make a comparison between these documents. In a word, text analysis really helps me save time and improve efficiency of reading.
Another important tool I learned in this class is Data Maps and Data Visualization. I did not realize these tools can be used in historical learning until I took this class. When it comes to a historical question of certain place, using a data map is really helpful. For example, I built a map of U.S. Nonwhite Female Slave Population in 1850. I used different shade of blue to represent the number of population. Counties with relatively smaller population were colored in a lighter shade blue. On the contrary, U.S. counties with relatively larger population were colored in a darker shade blue. This data map not only offers a clear visualization of population in the united states, but also give an understanding of where nonwhite female slave population centralized. In addition, data map is also widely used with other historical research questions that relate to certain events, such as World War I and World War II. Data map is useful because it provides a geographical image of where it happened and how it spread to other areas over time.
Flourish is one useful tool to build data visualization. it allows user to create different kind of visualizations, such as line, bar and pie charts, projection map, scatter, hierarchy, cards, Sankey diagram, line chart race, chord diagram, and etc. These data visualization makes data more clear for readers so that they can absorb information quickly. For Portfolio Activity 10, I created a bar chart based on free population and slave population of Connecticut in 1800. This map not only shows both population in different countries of Connecticut clearly, but also offers a visualized comparison between different countries. Based on this map, I decided to revise it in order to play different types of chart in Flourish. So I collected data from three time periods: 1800, 1810, and 1830 in order to see the change of slave population of Connecticut along with different time period. Then, I collected data from three time periods: 1800, 1810, and 1830. I chose line chart as chart type because I think this type of chart shows the tendency of population in a direct way. In this revised chart, time was plotted on the x axis, and the change of population was plotted on the y axis. In addition, I had different colors represent different counties of Connecticut. From this chart, there was a distinct downswing of the population of most counties. One thing that caught my attention was that Tolland had 0 slave population in 1810, but it turned to 1 in 1830. In addition, I found a main difference between bar chart and line chart, it is easier to see the changes in more than one group and compare the data from several groups over time with a line chart. Last but not least, I think data visualization tool will be very useful since I am interested in starting a business in the future. Data visualization helps me identify future business trend from customer feedback, so that it creates more opportunities and boosts productivity.
And here is a link to my revised chart: https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/1061326/
The WordPress I installed in class to post post assignment will also be useful in the future. I can also use it as my space to post my thoughts and ideas and create more fun stuff to share it with the world.
Another thing I learned from this course is to pay more attention to the resources. It is important to not only just read through the source itself, but also see who wrote it and when it was written. Annotations are also good tools that enables me to understand the sources better. I remember I made a mistake when I was doing to the Portfolio Activity 1: Research Process Journaling: to form a research question and locate primary sources that answer the question. I did not check the writer and data of my sources and it turned out to be a secondary resource. This experience reminds me that checking the reliability of the source and I will keep it in mind in the future.
To conclude, the way I learn history and using digital tool has changed after I took this class. I really appreciate this course because I have gained historical research experience and learned a lot of new skills. Even though I don’t plan to do history in the future, Voyant, WordPress, Flourish, and other digital tools that I used in the class will still plays an important role in the future.