Website Platforms

Why Use Website Platforms to Engage in Participatory & Open Scholarship?

Jennie Burroughs and Jennifer Hootman

Participatory and open scholarship involves publishing or sharing content with digital tools that incorporate multimodal elements, reach nontraditional audiences, or encourage input from and interactivity with visitors. This work often includes multiple types of content (“modalities”) side-by-side, including audio, video, interactive html, realtime data feeds, and commenting features. This mode of scholarship explores access and openness as core principles: access to source materials alongside analysis, access exclusive of licenses, openness to broader communities (e.g., members of the public, members of non-scholarly communities), and openness to new modes of scholarly collaboration. In both teaching and research, participatory and open scholarship allows for greater transparency with regard to audience, content, or process.

Incorporating an open scholarship project in a course engages students in authentic scholarly practices: selecting appropriate evidence, analyzing research sources, thinking about narrative structures in a digital context. Open scholarship helps students think in new ways about the audience for their research; instead of creating solely for the instructor, they may also be developing projects that can be shared with community members, the public, future classes, or future employers.

Open and participatory scholarship platforms afford scholars greater control of the scholarly production process and new opportunities to actively engage in public intellectualism. Scholarship may be released more quickly or in an iterative format. More content types--such as interactive maps, video, or annotated texts--may be included. These platforms also provide means for gathering input from multiple sources, such as contributors from inside and outside the academy. Similarly, this mode of production offers the potential for interactivity and ongoing discourse, such as commenting, group annotation, or sharing of stories and perspectives.

For any questions or assistance, please contact us (dash@umn.edu).

Exemplary Projects

Recommended Tools for Participatory & Open Scholarship

Learn more about the following content management systems that can facilitate participatory and open scholarship.

Google Sites

A Google application designed for creating websites for internal or external use or for project management.

Strength

This is a free platform with many theme choices for customizing, a variety of access settings, and can be used by an individual or as many contributors as desired.

Weakness
Site navigation in editing mode can be unclear, there are a limited number of layout templates for text, and incorporating media can be awkward.

Prerequisite Knowledge
Writing for the web
Importing media into a website
Creating website navigation

Support Guides & Tutorials
Google Sites Essential Training (Lynda.com – freely available to University faculty, staff, & students)

WordPress

A free, open-source content management system designed for creating websites or blogs. DASH Domains provides web hosting for WordPress as well as a range of other applications for teaching, research, or creative projects.

Strength
This is a free tool platform with an easy-to-navigate Dashboard, many theme choices for customizing, options to keep your site private or public visible, and can be used by an individual or as many contributors as desired.

Weakness
Acquiring a custom domain name and additional storage space requires purchasing a premium plan.

Prerequisite Knowledge
Writing for the web
Importing media into a website
Creating website navigation

Support Guides & Tutorials
WordPress Essential Training (Lynda.com – freely available to University faculty, staff, & students)
WordPress Themes: Twenty Sixteen (Lynda.com – freely available to University faculty, staff, & students)

Omeka

A free web publishing platform designed to allow individuals or groups create a website to display collections and build digital exhibitions. DASH Domains provides web hosting for Omeka as well as a range of other applications for teaching, research, or creative projects.

Strength
This is a free platform that is focused on collections and exhibits for media, provides a structured means for including metadata, and can be used by an individual or as many contributors as desired.

Weakness
The free platform has a 500 MB storage limitation, may require plug-ins for some features, and allows only “private” or “featured” as publicity options.

Prerequisite Knowledge
An understanding of metadata standard Dublin Core
Writing for the web
Importing media into a website

Support Guides & Tutorials
Up and Running with Omeka.net
Planning Your Omeka Project with DASH Domains
Using Omeka with DASH Domains
Install Omeka on Your DASH Domain Account
Documentation from Omeka
Omeka Screencasts​

Scalar

A free web publishing platform designed to facilitate individual or group creation of books, articles, or other digital projects. It provides a new form of scholarly publishing for faculty and students. DASH Domains provides web hosting for Scalar as well as a range of other applications for teaching, research, or creative projects.

Strength
This is a free platform that supports a wide variety of media file formats. Pages can be made public or private and the navigational structure is highly customizable. This platform can be used by an individual or as many contributors as desired.

Weakness
There is a steeper learning curve to setting up a navigational structure which includes creating paths and tags.

Prerequisite Knowledge
Writing for the web
Importing media into a website
Creating website navigation

Support Guides & Tutorials
Scalar Overview
Scalar Support Forum
Webinars provided by Scalar developers

Drupal Enterprise & Drupal Lite

A web content management platform designed to allow individuals or groups to create a website. The University of Minnesota funds a local instance of Drupal Enterprise and Drupal Lite at no charge to UMN faculty, staff, & students.

Strength
Drupal Enterprise allows you to have full control over configuring, customizing, and managing your site. Drupal Lite is the University of Minnesota's alternative to the Drupal Enterprise platform and offers simpler website development for non-web developers to create small- to medium-sized sites for research projects, events, and student groups.

Weakness
Drupal Enterprise requires web development expertise. Drupal Lite, while a good solution for non-web developers, customizing options are more limited. Additionally, there are no export options to an alternate platform.

Prerequisite Knowledge
Writing for the web
Importing media into a website
Creating website navigation
Note: Drupal Enterprise requires coding skills

Support Guides & Tutorials
Drupal Enterprise Self-Help Guide
Drupal Lite Overview, Getting Started, and Self-Help Guides

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