Using Omeka for Teachers

So you would like to use Omeka for a class, perhaps in conjunction with the Jewish Atlantic World Database, other online collections, or photos and videos you or your students plan on taking during field trips.  This page answers a few basic questions you might have such as what can I do with Omeka? What can my students do with Omeka? How do I get started?  What kinds of things have other students done with Omeka?  What are some sample lesson plans using Omeka with the Jewish Atlantic World Database?

What can I do with Omeka in my Class?

  • Omeka provides a platform with which you can create a class webpage and class collections
  • Omeka allows you to give students the experience of what it means to write and create a historical narrative rather than just readings about them
  • Omeka allows students to enhance their visual literacy by asking them to make judgments about how they interpret images and how they would like others to interpret images.
  • Omeka allows you a platform with which to guide students in how you’d like them to use online resources.

What can my students do with Omeka?

  • With Omeka your students  can create a digital collection of images, sound files, videos, and pdfs related to a specific historical topic.  They are in essence creating a virtual museum exhibit.
  • By tagging the objects in their collections, your students can organize their collection into thematic galleries.
  • They can share their collection and galleries not only with you, but also with people in your class or even people outside of the class through social media.
  • Students can create simple webpages for essays that analyze or introduce their collection and galleries.
  • Omeka allows students to either work individually or in groups.  By inviting “administrative users” to their sites, students can collaborate and create group projects.
  • Even when they are working individually, though, hypertext allows students to make living connections between their own work and the collections and pages posted by their classmates.

Steps for creating an Omeka site:

  • Sign up for a free account. Choose a domain name that reflects the topic of your unit or lessons.
  • Invite teachers (or students) to collaborate and help manage the website by becoming administrative users. Alternatively you may ask them to create their own sites and then have list on your site that links to theirs.  This will give them more flexibility for choosing the “look” of their site.
  • Choose and configure a design theme. Add a header image and think about ways to customize the navigation.
  • Install plugins that you will be using for this site, such as Simple Pages and the Exhibit Builder.
  • Plan which sources and files you want to include in the site for the module or archive of primary sources. Gather any bibliographic or descriptive data together for uploading.
  • Upload sources and files to build the website’s “archive.” Depending on the focus of your class, you may want to download images from the Jewish Atlantic World Database, other public domain online collections, or you may upload photos and videos you yourself have made or taken.  I usually use the process of locating and posting digital sources as a starting point in class for a discussion of public domain, copyright, and citation styles.  You may want to include a simple page that suggests the “rules” for using sources in your class.
  • Upload lesson plans, by choosing “lesson plan” from the item type drop down menu when adding an item. Customize the fields to fit your lesson plan’s format. You can also upload a PDF of the lesson plan.
  • Tag items as you add them if you want to make connections between different sources or organize items by themes. Once added, tags may be edited or deleted.
  • Build a module using your sources and lesson plans using the Exhibit Builder. Each exhibit page can correlate to parts of a teaching module: Introduction, Inquiry Question, Primary Source gallery, Lesson plans, Resources, et al.
  • Ask students to create exhibits using the site’s archive of primary sources. Create Simple Pages for an introduction to the topic and pose inquiry questions. Point students to the “archive” for primary sources. Ask them to build an exhibit with sources. (See more on user permission levels.
  • Assign students to write an essay about their (or your) sources using the Exhibit Builder or by creating a Simple Page.

Print a copy of the User Guide for Educators(PDF).

What have others teachers done with Omeka?

Practical Suggestions for Using Omeka in the Classroom:

What have other students done with Omeka?

See the sample lesson plans for suggestions on how to use the Jewish Atlantic World Database and Omeka.

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