Adventures in Digital History is different from any other history course I have taken at the University of Mary Washington. It is through this course and the successful development and implementation of the website on the life and legacy of Mary Ball Washington that I have gained substantial skills that go beyond the typical classroom setting or any research paper.
At the beginning of the semester, my group members and I set out to develop a website on the life and legacy of Mary Ball Washington. After conducting a survey and coming to a consensus that members of the University of Mary Washington (students, faculty, and staff), and members of the Fredericksburg community know little to nothing about the significance of Mary Washington, my group members and I set forth to develop a website that would follow the life of the mother of George Washington and discuss topics such as her personality, her relationships, and her legacy. To produce this website, we agreed to do extensive research and develop pages that would follow her life and legacy as well as have citations so our audience could conduct further research. In addition, we planned to enhance the website with a five to ten minute video, a map, a timeline, and a reference page that would have links to primary documents and other websites that provide information on Mary Ball Washington and her legacy. Finally, we planned to use an array of technical tools such as Youtube, GoogleDocs, GoogleWave, Facebook, and WordPress to create the website that would educate the UMW audience and the Fredericksburg community.
Now that the website is open to the public and finished, I feel that my group members and I have successfully met all the goals we set forth to develop the website. We all worked creatively and diligently to meet milestone dates to produce a well organized site on Mary Washington. Through the semester, we did face challenges. Some uphill battles included technological problems, such as the timeline not showing details of an events, and non-technological, such as meeting with researchers of Mary Washington (both within the university and the Fredericksburg community) to conduct interviews to gain more knowledge and information to provide our audience. However, I feel that we creatively tackled these challenges as we developed new ideas and opted for new ways to overcome the obstacles. In the end, the website does provide information and educates the UMW and Fredericksburg communities, as well as others that may be interested, on the life and legacy of Mary Washington.
Even though we worked together in a group, it is through our individual work to develop the website that my group members and I gained substantial skills that will definitely be used in the future. Personally, I have gained communication, creative, and technological skills. I have come out of my introverted shell and have approached people, some total strangers, to understand how people perceive Mary Washington, or to learn where to get information or conduct research on Mary Washington. In designing the website, I have gained creative skills to present information to engage and gain an audience (after all, a boring website typically means clicking the “back” button and never returning to the website). Finally, I have significantly gained technological skills. Had I not taken this class and agreed to develop the website, I don’t think I would ever have been exposed to using tools such as GoogleDocs, GoogleWave, WordPress, or Creately. These tools and the skills I have gained using them to communicate and creatively present information are definitely a part of my resume; I can definitely see these tools being used in my future workplace. In the end, not only did I produce a website on the life and legacy of Mary Ball Washington, and contributed to the realm of digital history with my group members, but I have also gained substantial skills and knowledge that will go beyond this class.