Our readers may be interested to know the background behind our team's idea of creating this website on the Third Reich. The creation of this website actually started off from a game!
It all started when team members Shawn, Liang, Choon and Jing who were avid gamers and have enjoyed playing the game "Freedom Force". In early May 2004, a sequel to the game "Freedom Force" was announced. The follow up game "Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich" generated a lot of excitement among these avid gamers.
A chance remark by Jing started the ball rolling. Jing had casually asked "What's the Third Reich?" Shawn who was very keen in history notably European history had come across this term before. He had read novels by Robert Ludlum "The Holcroft Covenant" and "The Apocalypse Watch" where the term "Third Reich" was used a lot. Shawn who knew a fair bit about Hitler, the Nazis and World War 2 knew the "Third Reich" referred to the Nazis but wasn't exactly sure why this was so. It had so far never crossed his mind. But he was now determined to find out more about the origins of the term "Third Reich".
This set Shawn on a journey of discovery on the "Third Reich" and for his love of history, he found out more than he had bargained for. Although Shawn had already known a fair bit about the Nazis, Hitler and World War 2 from history books, his research on the Third Reich unearthed many facts that he had not previously known. The tragic consequences of the reign of the Third Reich had left a deep impression on Shawn. At the same time he was fascinated that this reign while lasting a mere 12 years had altered the course of history and had far reaching consequences world wide even today.
So, when Thinkquest opened up this competition for the April to September 2004 Competition under the category of "Colonialism And Conquest", Shawn suggested to the coach, Mr Low and his team mates to create a website on the "Third Reich" to educate our readers on the reign of the "Third Reich", the rise and fall, aftermath, the legacy, the lessons learnt and the far reaching consequences even today.
We checked the Thinkquest Library for any previous sites concerning the Third Reich but there were none. There were only 2-3 sites about the Holocaust, and a few concerning World War 2 but in very general terms. We also scoured the Internet and books for information concerning the Third Reich. While there was a fair deal of information from the Internet and books about the Third Reich, the information was not very organized and either overly detailed or too brief or does not cover the scope of what our team had intended. The sites available on the Internet also lacked the visual appeal and interactivity.
So the webpage team decided to make our website easy to read, easily understood, comprehensive yet not overly detailed. We would make our website visually appealing and incorporate animations and interactive features. This would have been very effective in reaching out to the masses especially the younger readers (ages 12+ or older) and enriching for our readers. It would also make learning more interesting and fun.
The team wanted to tap on the vast reach of the Internet to promote awareness on this very significant reign. The team wanted the whole world to know - including young readers of today. As General Eisenhower had said, "The world must know what happened, and never forget".
As this topic is of a global appeal, we wanted to collaborate with overseas partners. This is also in line with Thinkquests' objectives of encouraging multi national collaboration. We posted in the Thinkquest forums looking for a partner. Shan from Pakistan responded and we had a Pakistani partner who was skilled in design and programming and was equally enthusiastic about the Third Reich site as us.
Shortly later, Maye Moreno from Mexico emailed the coach Mr Low and
offered to take on the role of assistant coach. Maye, a graduate student at
the Autonomous University of Mexico City had never participated in Thinkquest before but was very interested in doing so this year . As Maye was fluent in Spanish, the webpage team decided to broaden the usefulness of this website by including a Spanish version. Maye in turn introduced another student member to the team, Stephen who comes from the United States . Stephen's strengths are in design, programming and usability. As the United States was directly involved in World War 2 during the Third Reich, we felt Stephen's inclusion would be very good. As a result, we ended up with a truly international team - comprising of members from Singapore , Pakistan , Mexico and the United States collaborating on this project. To find out more about our collaboration, please check out our section on "How We Collaborated"
The team spent the next 3-4 months doing further research on the Third Reich, designing the website, producing 3D graphics, Flash animations, linking and debugging. The collaboration was very fruitful but not without its share of problems and challenges. This will be described in the section on "Challenges Encountered".
Shawn is in High School Year 3 and attends Ping Yi Secondary School in Singapore . He is the site's main web designer as well as team leader. The website's main template design was created by Shawn. Shawn's love for design and art was first developed at the end of Year 1. He is a great fan of designer websites and gaming derives a lot of inspiration from these sites. Shawn is also familiar with 3D graphics, Flash animations, webpage construction and computer hardware. The tools of his trade include Adobe Photoshop CS, 3D Studio Max 6, Image Ready and Macromedia Dreamweaver 2004.
Shawn is also an aficionado of military combat equipment. All the objects seen in our site's main page are 3D graphics rendered using 3D studio Max 6.0. Shawn's attention to detail is amazing - for example he had wanted to the rifle to be rendered so that it looks like the actual German Kar98 rifle used during the war.
As the team leader he had to arrange meetings both with the Singapore team members and with the help of Primary coach Mr Low and Assistant Coach Maye Moren arrange meetings with the other overseas team members. This website has been Shawn's most enriching effort as the experience of collaborating with team members from so many countries was such a wonderful experience. The topic was also of significant interest to Shawn
Jing is in High School Year 2 aand attends Ping Yi Secondary School in Singapore . Like Shawn, Liang and Choon, Jing is an avid gamer. Jing is also fairly familiar with webpage construction and Flash animations.
It is interesting to note that Jing who first asked the question "What is the Third Reich?" subsequently spent a fair amount of time doing research on the Third Reich with assistance from Liang and Choon. The so called "The Three Musketeers" trio of Jing, Liang and Choon spent many sleepless nights poring over the Internet, books and other resources such as DVDs for information pertaining to the Third Reich. As a result, Jing contributed a lot to the site's contents notably in the Introduction and The Rise and parts of The Fall sections. Jing also contributed to the construction of the actual webpages for the English version
Inspired by Jing and Shawn's interest in the Third Reich, Liang has spent a fair amount of time doing research on "The Third Reich" together with Jing and Choon - the so called "The Three Musketeers" trio of Jing, Liang and Choon spent many sleepless nights poring over the Internet, books and other resources such as DVDs for information pertaining to the Third Reich. As a result, Liang contributed a lot to the site's contents notably in The Rise and The Fall sections. Liang also contributed to the construction of the actual webpages for the Spanish version. Liang has also assisted Shawn in creating some of the 3D graphics seen in our site's main page.
Choon is in High School Year 2 and attends Ping Yi Secondary School in Singapore . Like Shawn, Jing and Liang, Choon is an avid gamer. Jing is also fairly familiar with webpage construction and Flash animations.
Inspired by Jing and Shawn's interest in the Third Reich, Choon has spent a fair amount of time doing research on "The Third Reich" together with Jing and Liang - the so called "The Three Musketeers" trio of Jing, Liang and Choon spent many sleepless nights poring over the Internet, books and other resources such as DVDs for information pertaining to the Third Reich. As a result, Choon contributed a lot to the site's contents notably in The Legacy and The Aftermath sections. Choon also contributed to the construction of the actual webpages for the English version
Shan who hails from Pakistan is in High School Year 3 and attends Beaconhouse School System, Cambridge Branch, P.E.C.H.S at Karachi , Pakistan . Shan is the site's main web animator. Most of the website's animations were created by Shan. Shan picked up his animation skills in High School Year 1. The animations were created using Macromedia Flash 2004 and Swish 3D.
Shan is also very keen in graphics design and programming. He has also programmed the very interesting game that is in our interactives section.
Stephen who comes from the United States of America is in High School Year 3 and attends the Bedford North Lawrence High School . He is in charge of the site's technical issues. Most of the website's technical issues and scripting were handled by Stephen. Technical issues included handling scripting for the menu navigation, site checking, debugging of errors, handling of templates, menu navigation and optimizing the site for speed.
Stephen's is an accomplished PHP programmer. His other strengths are in design, programming and usability. Stephen also contributed the crossword puzzle and the quiz in our interactives section
The Primary Coach
The entire website project progressed under the watchful eyes of the primary coach Mr Low. He had to ensure that the team is able to meet the necessary deadlines, schedule appointments, meetings and discussions especially with overseas team members. Assisting Mr Low is assisted by the very capable Maye Moren
Mr Low assisted the team in liaising with the school Media Department and other organizations for contents and resources. He had also been a great help by assisting the team in various resources such as DVDs, magazines and journals from the school library and his personal collection
In addition he has also provided a lot of valuable advice to the team including suggestions to improve the website, how to write to the necessary copyright holders for permissions and proof reading of the contents to ensure the accuracy of the information as far as possible
The Assistant Coach
Assisting the primary coach Mr Low, is Maye Moreno. Maye is a graduate student at the Autonomous University of Mexico City . Maye is interested in migratory bird conservation and dinosaur paleontology and systematics and is currently working on a descriptive study of dinosaur tracks in the north of Mexico.
Being fluent in both English and Spanish, Maye contributed to the website by helping with the Spanish translation and has broadened the appeal and usefulness of our site. Maye also provided invaluable advice and suggestions and wrote to the copyright holders of images and several other resources for permissions to legally use them in our website.
How We Collaborated
Our collaboration process was very unique. Initially the team used email and MSN/Windows Messenger to arrange for meetings, discussions, brainstorming and other arrangements. However, as more and more members especially from overseas joined the team, the difficulty of collaborating with so many members from so many countries became a real problem. Our team comprise of members from Singapore , Pakistan , Mexico and United States - all from different time zones.
Communicating via email was slow and inefficient for so many different members and also not very effective because we couldn't hold a discussion. The only option left was to meet up via MSN/Windows Messenger. However, arranging for meetings via MSN/Windows Messenger was very difficult for so many members from so many different countries.
As a result, Mr Low, the primary coach suggested setting up an online private forum to facilitate the collaboration. Mr Low subsequently approached a friend to assist him set up a private forum. The forum proved to be a very effective method of collaboration as it enabled discussions and full participation from all members from different time zones. Although the discussions in the forum weren't real time discussions, it enabled everyone from different time zones to participate at their own time. This was very effective as long as the members post regularly. Below is a screenshot of a sample of our collaboration in the forums.
Over at the forums, we discussed and brainstormed for ideas, suggestions and just about anything. Important announcements by the coaches are also announced through the forums. It was a wonderful and enriching experience for the whole team.
One of the major challenges the team faced included the need to balance their time. We had to juggle our time with an array of extra curricular activities, examinations, continuous assessment tests, our social lives and other commitments.
As mentioned above, initially the team had difficulty collaborating online with so many members from so many different countries using the traditional communication tools such as email and Windows/MSN Messenger. This difficulty was beautifully resolved when the primary coach Mr Low suggested the setting up of a private forum for the collaboration
During the school vacation month of June 2004, our collaboration was slowed down considerably as most of our Singapore members had holiday plans and arrangements. Another difficulty encountered was that in since January 2004, the Singapore school's IT infrastructure had undergone some changes and restructuring. The internet connection was often very slow and was prone to disconnection. Moreover, the school had blocked FTP access as a matter of policy so this made uploading files a problem. This had slowed the progress of our project and the team members had to resort to uploading the files from home and working from home at odd hours at times