While any research team or classroom can take advantage of Net.Create’s simultaneous editing and visualization structure, the primary activity structure Net.Create supports is a two-day activity that sets students up to read a long historical source (primary or secondary) more effectively.
It works like this:
- Day 1
- Divide students into groups of 3-5 (3 in a fixed-seating lecture hall; 5 if you have tables).
- Divide a long source that the students haven’t read yet into shorter excerpts and give each group 1 excerpt.
- Guide students through entering nodes and edges.
- End class with a discussion about betweenness and centrality as guides for helping identify and understand historical significance.
- Give students a short reading from the source between days 1 and 2 (12-15 pages max)
- Day 2
- Divide students into the same groups, but give them a different excerpt.
- Ask them to revise, correct, and add to their classmates’ entries for that set of pages.
- End class with a discussion about networks as both note-taking and analysis tools for historians.
After both days, students leave class equipped with a historical framework they built–with all of the notes they took and Net.Create’s visualization of the interactions in the source you assigned–that serve as a reference while they read the remainder of the source.
This version of Net.Create needs a computer running MacOS and a little command-line skill. If you’ve got that (or you’re willing to learn), we’re happy to share the software, along with our slide deck, a list of shared features for the 7 primary and secondary sources we’ve used with this activity, and whatever help we can offer you and your students.