Academic Shifts for a Digital World

As an undergraduate student, I rely almost exclusively on digital platforms for research.  My accessibility to content, like primary and secondary sources, is dependent on whether or not that information in the UMW library digital catalogue. While the web is increasingly becoming a space for students of history, we are still in the process of convincing the greater public to buy into this shift.

Public and semi-academic spaces, like Wikipedia, is one area in which students are more likely to simply use the platform rather than a reciprocal give and take interaction. This becomes particularly problematic when considering who then is actively contributing and maintaining these public and easily accessible spaces that are intended for accurate historical information. In Martha Saxton’s Wikipedia and Women’s History: A Classroom Experience, she makes the observation that, a critical historical lens like gender and specifically woman, is a marginalized narrative wherein attempts to revises popular narrative are themselves re-marginalized.

It is imperative that as there is greater access to sites like Wikipedia there is also a public move to make accessible scholarly content that is generally restricted to a university or private platform. One way to increase public reach is by making content specifically digital historical content, wherein public accessibility is explicitly a part of the design feature.