(1) About Neatline and Omeka
What is Neatline and Omeka?
Omeka is a digital humanities (DH) tool that lets to organize large collections of images, texts, events, maps, videos, etc., and then to draw from those collections to create exhibits and on-line essays.
Neatline is a plug-in for Omeka that specifically allows you to organize those same collections of images, texts, etc., into interactive timelines and maps.
How do I get Neatline and/or Omeka?
I am hosting this AALR (Re)Collecting the Vietnam War Teaching Program website on an Omeka/Neatline site maintained by the University of Virginia. I can add you and your students onto this site if you want to do projects that involve creating your own Neatline maps and/or timelines. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an account That way, you can use the collection of Omeka items that I've built as the starting point for your class projects.
Many universities have also installed Omeka and Neatline onto their own servers that you can use for teaching or research. If you prefer having your own site (and don't need any of my resources), you can contact your university's IT or DH department and ask about Omeka/Neatline. Both platforms are free to install, although you will need someone tech-savvy (and with server-level access) at your university to help you install this.
How do I get started with Neatline?
For the purposes of the AALR (Re)Collecting the Vietnam War Teaching Program, I am going to assume that you'll mostly be building timelines and maps, which means you'll use Neatline.
If you want to add your own items (images, events, texts), that involves the Omeka database (see the next question).
First, you'll need to email me (email@example.com) to ask for an account for yourself, and one or more for your class. (Each "project" should share an account, if your class is going to work on one project together, you'll just get one account, but if you want individual students or smaller groups of students to work on separate projects, I'll give you an account for each project.)
There is a bit of a learning curve to getting started with Neatline, as I've discovered this summer! If you want to take a look at Neatline in general, here are some links:
Neatline demos (from other classes)
If you just want to use Neatline for the specific assignments I've outlined for the Teaching Program, you might not need these general instructions. Just follow the links on the left to the assignment you want to use.
How do I use Omeka?
You don't have to use the Omeka tool direclty, except through the Neatline plug-in, for most of the assignments I've listed here. Neatline has its own interface, and it uses things I've already put into Omeka (so you don't have to do any of that yourself).
However, you might want to use Omeka if you:
(1) want to add "items" to the database for everyone (including your class) to use. Omeka items (events, images, text, etc.) are accessible to all Neatline projects in the Teaching Program.
(2) want to create a simpler on-line assignment that is more text-based than map- or timeline-based. Use the Exhibits tool to create web pages on which you can input text, and then add images or pre-created timelines separately. (For example, this page you are reading, and all the other pages on the Teaching Program instructions, are Omeka exhibit pages.)
You use the same account to access both Neatline and Omeka.
This is too much information! How do I jump in and get started?
First, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I will send you an account so you can create a password.
Second, select one of the pre-designed assignments and follow the instructions there.
You don't need to be a DH/Neatline wizard to do these simple assignments! But the more you learn, the more you can customize the assignments, or create your own, while still using the resources here as a starting point.