An interesting way to explore local history is through video production. I just finished a small interactive virtual tour of Idaho City, Idaho. This is a place I have visited many times during family day trips. It is a rustic place filled with remnants of the gold rush days. Over time, I have taken photos and recorded video segments to generate a collection of media artifacts from present day Idaho City. I have also collected some documentation of Idaho City provided by the Idaho City Historical Foundation. What I did with all of this was create an interactive virtual tour of Idaho City. The interactive tour was created as a demo project for my YouTube for Educators course. The project contains a collection of 5 videos. There is an introduction video, which provides an overview and has links to four destination videos covering various locations in Idaho City. The videos were composed in video editing software. YouTube was used to add annotation links from video to video. The interactive video project is embedded at the bottom of this post.
While assembling each video clip, I found myself retracing steps from my visits to Idaho City, endlessly referring to the small number of historical documents I had collected, and painstakingly selecting which facts I would include in the narration for each video. It was interesting to discover how historical information can sometimes be difficult to find. Sometimes documentation from one source contradicts that from another source. Whenever I work on a project like this my respect for historians grows. It's not always easy to gain access to credible primary sources. I had to rely primarily on the information obtained from documentation available from Idaho City. Many historic buildings have signs with some information about this history. Walking tour booklets and conversations with local residents helped to fill in some of the gaps. Still, it left me wanting to learn more and wondering if it was possible to gain a deeper understanding of the history of Idaho City.
While creating the interactive virtual tour of Idaho City I could not help but think about all of the knowledge and skills that can be attained almost simultaneously while planning and developing a project like this.
Among the skills are:
- Historical research conducted online and face-to-face
- Documentary-style script writing
- Copyright awareness (i.e. use of public domain, Creative Commons, or self-created media)
- Story boarding (See the storyboard I created for the Interactive Virtual Tour of Idaho City.)
- Application of YouTube tools to apply links
Over the years I have repeatedly heard stories of classrooms where there is so much curriculum to cover that it is hard to find time for students to create video projects. Yet, there are so many things that can be learned and possibly even remembered through video projects. We live in a time when video is an enormous part of our communication online and through other outlets such as television. I would love to see more attention given to video projects as a mechanism through which we explore history, among other things.
Interactive Virtual Tour of Idaho City
I invite you to take the interactive virtual tour of Idaho City, Idaho. If you have never tried interactive video on YouTube this will give you an example of a simple branching (linking) technique that I call the out-and-back style. The introduction video links out to each destination video. Each destination video links back to the introduction. However, the link back is also set as a deep link to jump forward in the video to the spot where the destination menu is located. This saves viewers from having to watch the same introduction over and over again. There are other ways to structure interactive videos, but this is what was selected for the Idaho City tour. I hope you find it interesting. The videos are all under three minutes long with most of them closer to two minutes. It should not take long to watch all five of them. I hope you feel inspired to create videos about your own local history.