Exploring Greenwich Village: Researching what makes the Village a village

Professor: Bernadette McCauley
ITF: Anton Borst
Campus: Hunter
URL: http://eportfolios.macaulay.cuny.edu/exploringgreenwichvillagespring2011/

Working with ITF Anton Borst, Bernadette McCauley and her class at Hunter made an intensive study of Greenwich Village. The site includes an index of term papers that students completed, as well as entries on landmarks, the arts, community and social issues, and history of the area.


Thoughts on the project from ITF Anton Borst:

The approach to this website was simple, organic, and student-directed. Towards the end of the semester, students were tasked with creating a website that collectively presented the individual research papers they had by that point completed. Other than that directive, students were free to discuss and decide as a group how to organize the site, what kind of content would be included, and for what aspects of the site each student would be responsible. These discussions were moderated and guided by the ITF and took place in class.

The process, especially in the initial stages, was messy and complicated: there were moments of awkward silence and confused frustration as the class began to wrap its head around cooperatively creating—as a group of 20 people—something as elaborate, interactive, and multi-faceted as a website. But as students assumed editorial, design, and managerial leadership roles and the project became increasingly concrete, the process quickly gained momentum. The class took ownership, working intently in small groups: the editors checked on revisions, the project managers called for progress reports, the map designers consulted with the site designers. The class buzzed like a newsroom; I remember thinking to myself that even if the website turned out to be a total mess it would not matter, that the energy, the coordination, the leadership, and the creativity inspired by the process itself was an achievement of its own.

In fact, the resulting website, Exploring Greenwich Village, is not a mess at all, but a sleekly and simply designed site that effectively brings together a wide range of research topics relating to Greenwich Village. Professor McCauley’s focus on cultural, community, and architectural institutions past and present provided its thematic core. The site was created with an audience in mind: it presents the highlights of students’ papers and sources for further information, incorporates images as well as text, and is easily navigable in multiple ways: by general theme (categories), keyword (tags), an alphabetical list of student papers, and by a map. The latter, appearing in the middle of the introductory text for the site, displays icons over locations related to each student project and links to the relevant website page. The site’s navigation thus balances the more formal research components of the course with the more accessible experiential components, namely the walking tours Professor McCauley led through the Village, which inspired many of the individual paper topics. The map also emphasizes a governing theme of the course and of the site: the actual places—and the stories behind them—that have made Greenwich Village what it is, an idea clearly explained on the homepage.

Exploring Greenwich Village: Researching what makes the Village a village | 2011 | All The Sites, Anton Borst, Bernadette McCauley, Featured, Greenwich Village, Hunter College, Index, Manhattan, maps | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments (0)

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