A Digital Presence in the Time of COVID-19: Reflections on Past, Present and Future Strategies Using Digital Technologies at Swansea University's Egypt Centre
The Egypt Centre houses around 6,000 artefacts from the ancient Mediterranean and is internationally recognised for innovation in widening participation and education. The museum plays an integral role in teaching and research across Swansea University and was awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (2018) for its volunteer programme. Officially opened to the public and students in 1998, the museum was pioneering as it made its complete collection available online (2005). It has recently revamped its online catalogue, which includes a number of additional digital educational resources. This paper reflects upon the impact of COVID-19 on teaching, research and public engagement that takes place at the Egypt Centre. In doing so, it will provide a debrief of the museum’s switch from face-to-face to online engagement with students, researchers and the wider public over the past 18 months (part one). It will then discuss the aims, development and launch of the new online catalogue (in October 2020). This section (part two) will introduce the development and key features of the online catalogue, including visitor engagement with interactive ‘trails’ amongst other highlights. Finally, it will review the role of students as co-creators and users of the museum’s resources (part three). Ultimately, this article considers how the new website will provide greater levels of interactivity to correlate with the needs of a diverse community of users, allowing both students and the public improved access to the collection. This complements the object-centred learning approach that the Egypt Centre champions.
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