Intro to Omeka GIS Lesson, MN History

Due Friday, at 8 P.M.

Why digital maps?

History sits at the intersection of time (when) and space (where) yet most histories separate those two into describing action during a time (the text) and the locating where that action took place (maps). Digital history lets us do both at once

Learning objectives: at the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of how weather, geography, and native peoples’ actions shaped early MN history.
  2. Log into Omeka
  3. Accurately place a time and location-based marker on a GIS map.
  4. Accurately describe your process for learning new digital interfaces (like Omeka).
  5. Generate a learning objective for yourself? What do you want out of this assignment? A learning objective is a specific goal related to learning (not a grade). For example, you could want to gain familiarity with GIs, or understand


Starting with this lesson plan, we’ll be using a variety of different digital resources that may be new to you. Please ask questions on the General Discussion board as soon as you experience difficulties. NEVER SUFFER IN SILENCE!

For the GIS Intro Lesson (and many other lesson this semester) we’ll be using a content management system (CMS) called Omeka. A CMS is like a bookshelf where you store digital information. It has a specific structure and specific rules for what you can do with the digital information. What the CMS looks like is it’s user interface, or UI. The same content can look very different depending on the UI. For example, look at these two blogs: Lincoln Mullen and Roopika Risam Both are just blogs, with the same CMS, but very different user interfaces.

Most people invest their interests in the UI (think how much trouble Facebook gets in when the company changes how the Facebook pages looks). As historians, we want to build stories about the past- the UI is less important. To extend the book metaphor, we’d rather have 100 books on a sturdy bookshelf in an ugly store than 2 books on a flimsy shelf in a beautiful store.

You already work with at least one CMS: we call it D2L (now Brigthspace by D2L).

For digital history, we want our CMS to pay attention to the things historians care about: why, where, what, when and who. In particular, we want to be sure when is closely tied to a where.

So, as a class, we’re going to create a single map and timeline with information from the readings for the Time module. This weeks lesson is fairly simple, and we will build on it for next week.

Activities to complete project

  1. To compete the lesson, you must accept the invitation from Omeka sent to you at your Normandale email. Once you’ve accepted the invitation, you may log into Omeka the website here.

  2. Once you’ve logged in, you should see a page that give you the option to click on a link for Neatline, the part of Omeka we’ll be using this week.

Enter a new record.

  1. Once you’re in, you’ll see an edit page that looks like this. Click on “New Record.”

  2. Next, go back to your readings for this week and chose a person, idea, quotation, or place that has a defined date, either a start date (such as born), and end date (such as when an empire falls apart) or a date spread (such as 2019–2001 BCE). Only one person can do each item, so if someone has chosen the person, idea, quotation, or place you want, you’ll have to find another. If you run out of items, you may use this website.