The Digital Learning Network shares ideas and good practice in using digital
technology to support learning in the Cultural Heritage sector.


News blog

Join us – DLNET looking for new committee members

Posted on by

Sian Shaw

Consider yourself an emerging heritage professional? 

Interested in digital learning? 

Enthusiastic about connecting and sharing with museum, heritage and archive colleagues?

Keen to give back to the sector?

We’re looking for you!


The Digital Learning Network (DLNET), run by a small, voluntary committee, has always strived to share ideas and good practice in using digital technology to support learning in the cultural heritage sector. Over the last few years, heritage organisations around the UK, of all different sizes with different focuses, have embraced digital like never before. We all know this is the future – and with that comes the need for emerging and future heritage professionals to embrace digital too. 

As a committee, we want to make sure we represent our colleagues working on digital learning, and feel that we have a gap without any voices who represent those in the early stages of their careers, often referred to as emerging professionals. This includes, but is not limited, to apprentices, trainees, students over 18, volunteers, people in their first paid heritage job and those who have recently changed careers. We are looking for fresh eyes and minds to join in the conversations, guiding DLNET on where it can best support others. 

Sian, Stuart, Lisa, Helen, Sean, David and Fran – the current DLNET committee


So, what are the current DLNET committee looking for?

We are looking to recruit up to three new committee members who would be able to volunteer for a minimum of a year from September 2022 onwards. 

We are looking for people who are:

  • Keen to share their ideas about how emerging professionals can be supported by DLNET
  • Enthusiastic and willing to get stuck into future projects, varying from regular monthly chats on Twitter to large scale events (or whatever else the committee collectively plan to do!)
  • Excited about connecting with colleagues and promoting the work of DLNET
  • Committed to joining a virtual meeting roughly once a month (usually at lunch time) to keep the momentum going – and some additional conversations in the run up to events

You don’t need to be a “digital expert” or solely focused on digital learning. We are looking for interest and enthusiasm over experience. 

What will I get out of it as an emerging professional? 

  • Experience of being part of a heritage network committee without a long commitment (we want you to stay for a year, but if you love it, we’d love you to stay) 
  • Opportunities to develop skills that you may not have in your current role, such as planning events, interviewing colleagues, writing blogs and much more
  • Networking opportunities with the very friendly DLNET committee and beyond as you meet and interact with DLNET followers 
  • Your own DLNET committee buddy – you’ll be matched with one person on the committee who can support you throughout the year 


Sounds fab, I’d like to apply. What do I need to do?

Great news! Please complete this form,by 9am on Monday 18th July 2022.  

Next DLNET Chat: EDI – Increasing accessibility for all users

Posted on by

Sian Shaw

Over this year and into the next, we will be talking about a range of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion topics and how they relate to digital learning practice, such as Disability, Decolonialisation, or LGBTQI+. 

In order to bring in the experience and expertise that’s needed for this (and also because we like working in collaboration with other networks and organisations), we’re teaming up with guests to share insights, tips and resources. If there is a topic you would like to know more about, or you know just the right person/organisation/network we should be talking to, drop us a line at

A couple of months ago we kicked off this series by talking about including minority voices in your museum display. The second in the series is with Becki Morris of DCN (Disability Collaborative Network) and Matt Dean of Aventido. Together, they have a wealth of experience supporting heritage organisations when improving the accessibility of their websites and other technology. Inclusive technology is not only a legal requirement, but something every heritage organisation should be striving for. We know as DLNET committee members that this can feel hard to achieve sometimes and we may feel out of our comfort zones, which is why we’ve invited accesibility experts to answer your questions, however big or small!

In preparation for the DLNET Twitter chat on 6th May, we asked Becki and Matt a few questions about their work on inclusive technology, their reflections on the pandemic and what advice they would give to others in the sector. 

Becki and Matt will join us on 6th May between 1-2pm on Twitter to chat more about this topic, and to answer any questions you might have. Follow @DLNET on Twitter, or check the hashtag #DLNETchat on the day to participate.

Related links 

Next DLNET Chat: Tool Time – Padlet and other collaborative tools

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Sian Shaw

Join us on Friday 1st April, 1-2pm, to discuss Padlet and other collaboration tools using the hashtag #DLNETChat

DLNET Chat’s first ever “tool time” will be an opportunity to learn from others and share your own experiences about specific websites or apps that can be used with audiences and colleagues. 

This time we are focusing on Padlet and other collaborative tools. Whether you are currently juggling the best ways to work with colleagues as hybrid working becomes the norm or are looking for engaging ways to keep those online-only projects thriving, the DLNET community is here to help. We may have scheduled this DLNET Chat on April Fool’s Day, but it’s no joke that collaboration is more than ever essential to the way we work.

Join us on Twitter on Friday 1st April, 1-2pm!

DLNET Chat March 4: Including Minority Histories in your Museum Display

Posted on by

Lisa Peter

2022 sees us at DLNET HQ kick off a new series for our blog and for the monthly DLNET Twitter chat. Over this year and into the next, we will be talking about a range of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion topics and how they relate to digital learning practice, such as Disability, Decolonialisation, or LGBTQI+. 

In order to bring in the experience and expertise that’s needed for this (and also because we like working in collaboration with other networks and organisations), we’re teaming up with guests to share insights, tips and resources. If there is a topic you would like to know more about, or you know just the right person/organisation/network we should be talking to, drop us a line at

Museum Director Liz Woledge holds a Royal Crown Derby Imari plate up to the camera. The first in the series is Elizabeth Woledge from the Royal Crown Derby Museum. During 2021, she worked with Gypsy, Romani and Traveller collectors of Royal Crown Derby porcelain to explore what their treasured collections meant to them. Their collected stories were made into a digital interactive that is now part of their exhibition, telling an important part of the social history of Royal Crown Derby porcelain. 

In preparation for the DLNET Twitter chat on March 4, we asked Liz a few questions about how she went about this and what advice she would give to others looking to do something similar. 

You can find out more about the project, which was generously funded by Arts Council England, on their website. Royal Crown Derby Museum were grateful for the support and generosity of all who participated in the project and supported them, especially Romani storyteller Richard O’Neill, and the team at Rural Media’s Traveller’s Times. 

Liz will join us on March 4 between 1 and 2pm on Twitter to chat more about the project, and to answer any questions you might have. Follow @DLNET on Twitter, or check the hashtag #DLNETchat on the day to participate.

#DLNETChat Friday 4 February 2022 – The fall and rise of the QR Code

Posted on by

Stuart Berry

Are QR codes coming back?  Did they ever go away?

The increasing use of QR codes in a number of highly visible ways – and especially their recent role in helping people to ‘check-in’ to hospitality venues to assist the contact tracing process – means that people are more familiar than ever with them. Additionally, many smartphones can now read QR codes through their native camera app, meaning we don’t need to install a third-party QR reader to access them.

Around the year 2010, QR codes started to be used by an increasing number of cultural organisations to provide another way to access content through smartphones. However, staff would often find that the codes weren’t being accessed. There was also a contingent of cultural practitioners who argued that the codes weren’t complimenting the cultural content, but actually taking people’s attention away from it.

This article from 2016 details the ‘death of QR codes’ in museums:,

However, this pre-pandemic blog post from 2019 questions whether they ever really went away:

With their increasing usage in more familiar places, is it time to rethink the QR code?


QR codes aren’t a new thing, despite their seemingly sudden emergence during the pandemic. They were designed over 25 years ago by Japanese automotive manufacturer Denso Ware to track vehicle parts. They enabled quick scanning of data and are capable of storing more characters than traditional barcodes – around 4000 vs 20. During the early 2000s, QR code scanning technology for mobile phones was developed. QR codes saw a brief period of popularity around 2012 but a lack of public awareness and the need for specialist software to scan them on mobile led to their decline in use until recently. Many smartphones come with QR code scanners in-built into their camera software.

National Museums Scotland adopted QR codes in 2011, putting around 70 of them in a gallery, allowing access to extra collections material like videos and photographs through SCRAN. The “Typewriter Revolution” exhibition contains QR codes next to objects, showing how the typewriters were used and what they sounded like. QR codes were also used in the Galloway Hoard exhibition, allowing access to 3D scans of objects that were able to be manipulated.

The British Museum currently uses QR codes as part of their family programming. Several galleries have QR codes that you scan which encourage you to interact with objects in the galleries in imaginative ways. 

Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands in it’s “delinking and relinking” exhibition used QR codes in conjunction with app “Smartify” to offer different perspectives on the exhibition. They have audio descriptions for those with visual impairments, as well as 5 tours for different audiences linked from QR codes to Smartify. 


It is important to recognise that QR codes – or any similar technology that links exhibits to online content – can not answer every problem, and that they aren’t going to be useful for everybody.

In order to use a QR code, visitors will need a compatible smartphone and will need reasonable network access –  which isn’t always available in rural or remote coastal locations and can be difficult behind the thick stone walls of an older museum building or other enclosed heritage setting. There is also the potential to tamper with poorly displayed QR codes, allowing the potential spread of malware to your handheld device.

There have also been identified issues around relying on QR codes when working with visually impaired audiences. This article from VocalEyes goes into detail about research that they have done:

What do you think about QR codes, are they back for good and can they overcome their limitations?


Join us for our next #DLNETChat on Friday 4 February 2022 at 1.00pm to discuss this further. Search for the hashtag or keep an eye on the @DLNET Twitter feed.


Further reading:

DLNET conference 2021 recordings and summaries available

Posted on by

Lisa Peter

Session summaries and recordings available now


The recordings and session summaries of the individual presentations are now available for catch up.

#DLNETChat | 5 November 2021: How long do digital learning resources last?

Posted on by

Stuart Berry

Everything we create has a lifespan: some things continue to exist for longer than others, and some things continue to have use or relevance for longer than others.  In our next live Twitter chat #DLNETChat, on Friday 5 November, we will consider the question about how long the digital learning resources that we create might last, and whether it is possible to do anything to make them last longer.

It should be made clear at this stage that we are specifically discussing learning resources as opposed to digital collections or digital archives – although some of the issues might be the same when it comes to physical storage or digital formats.


Digital Storage and Digital Formats

In exploring this subject, it seems that quite rightly there is considerable work being done on the subject of digital preservation when it comes to (digital) artefacts that might be of historic significance, however there seem to be much fewer conversations about the lifespan of other digital resources. The one area where these two areas overlap is that of digital storage and digital formats, however when we save our digital resources to the cloud or back it up on the server at work, it is likely that there are fewer precautions or procedures in place than we might take with digital collections.

A few questions relating specifically to digital learning resources in this area might be:

  • If we are using online platforms or cloud storage, is there a risk that the platform might cease operating or material posted there will stop being available? What can we do about this?
  • As we create a larger quantity of more sophisticated outputs (e.g. high-definition or 4k video), does this put a strain on digital storage within organisations such as hard-disk or server space?
  • Is there a risk that the formats we use become obsolete? Can anybody access those CD-ROMs we made for schools, ten or more years ago?
  • At what stage should we embrace new or emerging technologies?
  • We are becoming more aware now of the environmental impact of our digital decision making, are there any ways that we can make more informed choices in this regard?



The other area that dictates how long something will last is that of how long it remains relevant or useful. The actual content, what we are saying in these resources or the way that we are saying it, might need to change over time as interpretations or communication methods change. Content aimed at formal learners might need to be adapted if the curriculum changes, or we may need to consider re-evaluating our resources, as we constantly re-evaluate the way we consider the heritage in our care.

Some questions dealing with content might include:

  • How long is the content relevant? How often should we re-appraise what we are saying or the way we choose to say it? How can we plan for this when we create new resources?
  • Are the digital resources we created during lockdown going to relevant in a post-lockdown world, will they need to be produced again, using the benefit of our experience, but also with more polish (rather than from our kitchen tables and made using dodgy broadband with software on free or open-source licenses)?

We certainly don’t promise to have any of the answers but we will look at some of these questions during our next Twitter #DLNETChat on Friday 5 November at 1.00pm.

Next DLNET Chat: Common Barriers, Creative Solutions

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Sian Shaw

Join us on Friday 1st October, 1-2pm, to discuss the common barriers you experience while working in digital learning and how you solve them creatively, using the hashtag #DLNETChat

This month, DLNET is focussing on the everyday realities of digital learning. We all face common barriers, whether that is money, time or the opportunity to upskill, and because there is no magic wand, we all have to find creative ways to solve those problems. However hard it can seem, it’s important to remember that we are not alone and that’s where DLNET comes in.

Ahead of our virtual conference on this topic on 14th October 2021 (book your free tickets now on the DLNET Eventbrite page), we thought we’d get the ball rolling in our monthly Twitter chat.

Whatever level of experience you have working in digital learning, we’d love to hear your thoughts about the common barriers. Some of them you might have overcome and some of them you might still be looking for solutions. Have these barriers changed during the pandemic? Are you looking at things differently now?

Join us on Twitter on Friday 1st October to talk about common barriers and creative solutions. Watch out for the pre-chat poll on the DLNET twitter account next Wednesday, along with emails to the JISCMAIL lists. Join in with the voting to kick off October’s DLNET Chat, and share your views and experiences!

Adult Learning: #DLNETChat September 2021

Posted on by

Anne-Marie Langford

September #DLNETChat

This months chat covers how organisations approach digital learning, the tools they use and the opportunities it presents.

The chat started with a poll which asked. “What sort of things does your organisation offer adult learners”.

A discussion participant notes that there are different types of learner

The second question asked how digital technology currently supports adult learning work and ask if it does why that is.

A reply noted that the pandemic has encouraged organisations to use digital as a means of delivery. They note that digital platforms were used for administration and bookings.  Another answer notes that digital delivery is used for leisure learner days at the moment, but they have also developed a few MOOCs (massive online open courses) in the past with other partner organisations. A response notes that many learners are often looking for deeper content and not to be afraid to be niche.  There is a lot of generalist information out there but organisations should brave and embrace their unique selling points. Another response says that adults can access online learning via YouTube. Learners subscribe or access via social media. They also offer longer posts about collection items with images.

The organisation lines up a monthly episode in partnership with community groups then the organisation is responsible for editing and publishing. A crucial part of this is the content creation by working with others to enable strong partnerships to ensure the workload is shared to reduce the demand on staff.


The third question asks are cultural organisations using existing general digital platforms for delivering learning to adult audiences. A response stated that they have used educational platforms use such as FutureLearn to host MOOCs and streaming things onto YouTube. An answer notes that general platforms offer numbers.  Their MOOC on FutureLearn attracted 96000 people to sign up.  Platforms also offer interaction as participants can post comments.

A follow up the question was posed about good examples of adult learning supported by or facilitated through digital.

The Sounds of the Forest website is a fascinating example of global UGC dependent on digital for creation and dissemination.

The pandemic has opened up geographical access to CPD online in the sector which has been fantastic the more interactive the better.


The next question posed was what is the most important lesson you have learned in using digital for adult learning.

A couple of responses noted the importance of preparation, practise and rehearsal. An example was shared with a YouTube live. Having a script makes technical issues are easier to deal with.  Patience is another vital attribute.  Things can go wrong, and it is important to have alternatives.

The final question asked how you would like to see your adult learning offer change with respect to digital.

Responses talked about digital opening organisations to international audiences and partnerships across borders. Virtual tourism and time-zone friendly programming are norms in other parts of the world. Although the pandemic has shown that some audiences prefer remote engagement, not always to do with geography.

Join us Friday 1 October 2021 1pm for the next Digital Learning chat.

Adult Learning

Posted on by

Anne-Marie Langford

Many museums run rich and varied adult learning offers onsite: lectures, talks, courses, debates, performances, demonstrations, activities, workshops and more. Museum learning experiences are particularly valuable for their rich experiential content, for example, the sense of presence you get when confronted by an artifact. 

Museums have long been a rich resource for adult learners allowing them to explore and experience new ideas and information. Through their interactive nature, museums have the power to confront individuals’ ideas about the world and transform it. Recent museum educational theory focuses on the social, personal, and physical interactions that combine to create meaningful learning experiences. Adult learners come to the museum for a range of motivations; curiosity, focussed research, self acutalisation or socialising to name a few.  Digital tools have been used on site to enhance interpretation and deepen engagement. They have also been used to enable online engagement opening up experiences to adult learners defying the limitations of time and space. There have been many  examples museums creating of 360 degree models of exhibitions allowing visitors to experience their collections outside of opening hours on the other side of the world.  An example is (The Virtual tour of Museum of London  Docklands

Some Examples of Adult Learning

The National Museum of Computing has a YouTube channel with pre-recorded talks and lectures on a wide range of subjects. The talks are aimed at tech nerds and enthusiasts. The museum offers regular live talks and lectures to its supporters and members which are delivered by their expert volunteers.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has a range of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) which are hosted on Future Learn. As a result of the pandemic they developed  a range of digital outreach sessions as an alternative to their residential courses. In February 2021 they delivered their “Winter School”, a course delivered over 2 days, online. This included a live streamed showing of a film version of “Twelfth Night”, a quiz and pre-recorded talks from experts, live hosting from their own in-house experts and online chats.

Birmingham Museums run a subscription service to their online content for adults, which is called Birmingham Museums On Demand. Created by the in-house team, a monthly subscription costs £20 and gives access to ‘exclusive’ content. Each month the pass contains links to lectures and talks.


In this month’s DLNET twitter chat we will be exploring these questions:

How have digital tools been used to engage adult learners?

What opportunities does this offer?

What are the problems and pitfalls?

How do you create great learning experiences through a screen?

How has digital content for adult learners allowed you to connect with international audiences?


 DLNET Twitter chat takes place on Friday 3 September at 1pm.

Digital learning for families: DLNET Chat July 2021

Posted on by

Sian Shaw

This month’s chat was all about how digital learning had progressed over the last 12 months and what the future holds for digital engagement with families, onsite and online. We were delighted to supported this month by the Families in Museum Network (FiMN)

Our pre-chat poll had indicated that cultural organisations were thinking about how to incorporate digital into family learning but pre-pandemic, it just hadn’t yet happened.


How did lockdown change or develop your digital offer for families?

In short, the thinking turned into actions. It was great to hear how different organisations pivoted their existing programmes to online or spent time broadening the one-off items they had created previously. While there was a clear sense of needing to react, answers clearly showed that this was more planned rather than throwing up content to see what would stick.

There was also an acknowledgement that the pandemic had given organisations the opportunity to try things that might not have been as popular before. The big question being, will this new online audience remain when in-person events are fully functioning?


How can we juggle both digital and physical programming going forward? Should one be more important than the other?

While you might not be surprised on a chat about digital learning, that the answer was never going to be one was more important than the other, these answers highlighted the practicalities we still need to work out as cultural organisations. Workload came up repeatedly, as well as conversations about live and static digital content taking considerable time to produce. These will be the big organisation-wide questions that will happen now that physical sites are reopening to increasingly larger audiences. Rather than either/or, how could digital and physical compliment one another? And is that what our audiences want?


Has the pandemic helped you overcome all your digital fears? Is anything holding you back from engaging with digital now and do you know where to look for ideas and solutions?

We thank our followers for their honesty in what can be a difficult thing to admit! From managing the scale of information to connectivity worries to ensuring high quality, here are a sample of the responses.

And, I think we can all empathise with this one…


Have you tried digital programming on-site? If so, do you provide equipment or ask families to use their own?

We’ll be honest – things went quite quiet on this question! It feels like this could be the big next step, but from experience, it’s going to be about a balance between engaging digital programming vs families who are visiting to have a break from screen time. If I was a betting woman, this would be the thing to watch…


If time and budget were unlimited, what are your wildest dreams when it comes to digital programming and how it can be used to access wider audiences?

This one was for the dreamers – but actually, many of the answers were on the achievable scale (no flying unicorns etc!) International collaboration is one of the most exciting opportunities, fuelled by everyone being restricted to their own space over the last year. This is for both contributors and the audience.

As followers of networks often only based in one country, we should remember that others around the world are likely to be working through the same problems and can be a source of support and inspiration.

And of course, for digital learning, it’s so important to put time into the learning objectives, even when informal learning is not restricted by curriculum.


What does the future look like for digital learning for families? What questions are you asking yourselves when looking ahead?

So, where do we go now? All the responses acknowledged that we are at a moment right now, where things still seem uncertain. I like to think this metaphor sums it up…

We could see lots of people by this point in the chat making connections and arranging follow-up conversations between organisations. We love to see that!


Final takeaway

We are all experimenting and learning about the best way to use technology right now with cultural audiences. It’s easy to forget that change is always happening, even if this change feels bigger than usual. When selecting the best tool to communicate with your audience, be that digital or not, remember this advice from the National Archives Education Service. “Keep it simple.”


Next #DLNET Chat

DLNET Chat is taking a break in August, but we’ll be back on Friday 3rd September 1-2pm, when we’ll be discussing adult learning. Follow @DLNET and remember to use the hashtag #DLNETChat


Guest blog: Finding the people in pixels

Posted on by

Sian Shaw

Rosie Cooper-Bowman, a Learning Programme Developer at the Natural History Museum, shares her five top tips for adapting your in-person presenting style to cater to digital audiences, based on her experiences during the pandemic

The pandemic has given us a whole new arena – the virtual audience. Over the last year I have been learning new techniques and tweaking my presenting style to connect with the ‘pixels’ on my screen. I have also worked with a wide range of educators and presenters across my various roles and networks to establish best practices. We have delivered, recorded, observed, self reflected, practiced and tried and tested various techniques. Here are my 5 top tips for adapting presenting techniques from a physical audience to a digital one. 


1 – Emergency plan 

I found that tech issues are the number one concern of presenters new to digital engagement.

Things will go wrong. But, your audience will be understanding and patient. Minimise the chance for errors by double checking your set up. Most importantly, have a solid emergency plan. What are all of the things that could go wrong and what could you do as a backup? Work out a Plan B (and C!). Not only will this increase your confidence overall, but when things go wrong, you’ll know what to do. In my virtual sessions, I also always have a filler activity planned to buy me time, just in case. 

Whilst your back up plan should be thorough, also know the importance of calling time of death when things have gone very wrong. Consider where your ‘point of no return’ might be. 


2 – Body language

Many presenters will be familiar with the notion that only 7% of how we communicate is based in the words we say. A much larger proportion, around 55%, is attributed to body language. 

When we are presenting to a physical audience, body language comes naturally. However this is not the case when presenting to a digital audience. I think this might be one of the reasons we experience ‘Zoom fatigue’ (because either we are going over the top to show our body language, or our brain is working overtime to try and interpret other people’s cues). To deliver an engaging digital presentation it is essential to consider your body language and put extra effort in conveying it clearly. 

Hand movements – Aim for slower, less jerky hand movements. Importantly, consider your frame. Draw an imaginary box around your head that is ‘in shot’ and make sure you bring your hands and actions purposefully into this space. Don’t have them too close to your face and be careful of losing them off the bottom of the screen. Move your hands as you would naturally, just now in full view of the camera. Finding the best placement and sticking to it will feel quite forced and unnatural at first but it makes all the difference in terms of engaging your viewers. 

Facial expression – Matching facial expression to content and voice will be more spontaneous and natural. However, when presenting to a digital audience it is worth turning this up even more and playing with a greater range of facial expressions than you would in person. If it’s not too daunting, remember your face might be the only one they can see on screen and you are at much closer range than you would be in person. Try to keep your face as entertaining as possible. 


3 – Variety

To keep things as engaging as possible, frequently vary your tone, volume, pace and energy. Indeed, I have seen many great presenters get stuck at max energy. I expect it is because we get so concerned with bringing high-enough energy for a non physical audience, that we turn it up and forget that we can (and should) turn it back down again. Delivering all of the presentation at 90% energy will soon become dull. By contrast, starting at 30%, going up to 50%, back down to 30% then up to 90% will be exhilarating to watch. Take time to identify appropriate points in your content and introduce different levels of energy, using keywords to remind you where they are.


4 – Working the camera

In general, for larger presentations, broadcasts and pre-recorded sessions, delivery should be straight down the webcam. This will feel comfortable for the person watching, even if it feels a bit odd for you. People’s eyes are drawn to faces, so as a presenter, you will automatically find yourself either looking at your own image or the others on the call. Whilst it is fine to look at those windows from time to time, try and keep the majority of your delivery down the lens. If it helps, put a smiley face next to your webcam to help train your eyes. If you do need to look away, perhaps to read comments in the chat, announce that you are about to do so. This helps to explain why you are now breaking ‘eye contact’ with the camera and keeps the audience with you. When using props, practice your positioning to know where things go in and out of focus and frame.


5 – Reflection

I believe self reflection is the single most important thing any presenter can do. Record yourself now, watch it back, pick out good aspects, things to work on and compare it to others. As you get more experience, continue with this, refining as you go. Then once you have lots of recordings under your belt, go back to that first one and note just how far you have come. I encourage all the presenters I work with to take time to record themselves and self-reflect, and emphasise that their own critiques are just as (if not more) useful than other people’s.

It is also very helpful to look at the work of others for inspiration or to see what not to do. Don’t be tempted to copy anyone else too much though, it is important to always be yourself (being you is far better than being anyone else).


Thanks for your insights Rosie. Would you like to write a guest blog about your experiences of digital learning? Read more about getting involved here

DLNET Guest Blog Submission Guidelines

Posted on by

Anne-Marie Langford

Who we are and what we’re looking for

DLNET is a network of cultural heritage professionals who use digital as one of the tools in the toolbox for heritage learning. This means that we support anyone who would like to use digital to deliver learning, no matter whether their job title includes ‘digital’ or not. We do not assume prior knowledge of the technologies we talk about, so this needs to be kept in mind when blogging on DLNET or when being interviewed.

The DLNET blog is a space for sharing best practice and lessons learned in terms of using digital technologies for learning in the cultural heritage sector. We are especially interested in highlighting digital learning experiences that can be replicated without major investments, as these tend to be the most useful for cultural heritage professionals. We also occasionally publish think pieces that explore current trends and discussions within the cultural heritage sector or the tech community, as long as they are relevant to our audience.

Content should be useful and compelling to the reader, not self serving – please don’t view this as an opportunity to plug your paid-for services.

How can I get involved?

You can either propose a guest blog or you can propose to be interviewed by one of the DLNET committee members, using this link

Tell us a bit about yourself:



Organisation (if applicable):

Would you prefer to be interviewed, or are you proposing a guest blog?

If you are proposing to write a guest blog

  • The length of blogs on DLNET is between 500 and 800 words. Longer submissions will not be published. 
  • The style of blog entries is more on the informal side of things. We appreciate being able to hear and see the human behind a project or a think piece. This still means that we are expecting references to be checked and any multimedia content to be rights cleared.
  • Multimedia / interactive content, such as images, videos, infographics, or other media need to be cleared of copyright (so that we all know that you are allowed to use it), and submitted in a publishable format: please ensure that the image resolution is high enough for web publishing, and that other multimedia content can be embedded and displayed in WordPress.

What is the topic you would like to write about?

Have you written about this topic previously and has this been published somewhere?

Write a pitch of 100 words for your guest blog: what will your blog cover, and how does it serve the DLNET community?

Where would you promote your content after publication? (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, webpage, newsletter, …)

To tell us more about your blog idea click this link

Next DLNET Chat: Digital learning for families

Posted on by

Sian Shaw

Join us on Friday 2nd July, 1-2pm, to discuss when and how to incorporate digital into family learning using the hashtag #DLNETChat

With the summer holidays fast approaching and many cultural heritage organisations open for onsite visits, now is the perfect time to talk about digital learning for families. For many organisations, digital has been the only way to keep in touch with their family audiences over the last year and it has been a way to widen the reach to families who may not be able to attend in person, due to geographical, financial or accessibility barriers. As a sector, what have we learnt in the last year and what are your plans moving forward?  

We are delighted that this DLNET chat will be run with guest contributors from the Families in Museum Network (FiMN).

Whatever level of experience you have working with families, we’d love to hear your thoughts about the role digital has to play. Do you think digital has a place onsite? How do you balance digital engagement with families wanting “a break from screens”? Has the pandemic changed the way you think about digital and family learning?

Join us on Twitter on Friday 2nd July to talk about the future of digital and family learning. Watch out for the pre-chat poll on the DLNET twitter account next Wednesday, along with emails to the JISCMAIL lists. Join in with the voting to kick off June’s DLNET Chat, and share your views and experiences!

Towards a hybrid engagement offer: DLNET Chat June 2021

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Lisa Peter

This month’s chat was about how organisations navigate the move back to (some) on-site engagement while still continuing to deliver online learning programmes. Our pre-chat poll had indicated that the majority of respondents was looking at hybrid delivery in the coming months, but there is also still some caution around re-opening and a return to physical engagement.


This might have to do with the fact that the UK home nations follow slightly different schedules, and restrictions aren’t lifted at the same pace throughout the UK. 

In addition, not all audiences are feeling confident about in-person activities at the moment. They might feel that more hands-off visits are more within their comfort zone for the time being than a more interactive engagement, no matter how Covid-proofed they may be. 

On the other hand, many organisations are similarly cautious about what the future will bring, and are programming accordingly.

After all, hybrid models have advantages too, in terms of access and in terms of geographical reach with potential audiences in the wider Anglosphere:

The second area we touched on in the chat was about what programming decisions are based on, given that there still is quite a bit of uncertainty around what feels comfortable for visitors and staff at the moment. 

One point was quite fundamentally that in some case it is not just a question of which kind of engagement works best in which format, but that this relies on whether a site can be re-opened in a Covid-safe way in the first place:

Speaking of resourcing, we were interested to see how sustainable hybrid engagement models are, also given that many organisations had to reduce the number of staff over the pandemic.

Hopefully it won’t become an either/or decision for organisations going forward, as so much has been learned about online engagement in the last year and a half, but the focus might have to move slightly away from the perception that a physical visit is more valid than a digital engagement:

The final question was quite cheekily looking for the Holy Grail of hybrid engagement and whether a truly blended approach of in-person and digital engagement could work and be efficient in time and money as well as being more accessible and more useful for audiences. I think it’s fair to say that the answers speak for themselves: we as a sector change because our audiences change. It might take a while (as it always does), but we’ll keep working on it!

Thanks to all the chat participants last week, it was great to see audience needs at the centre of people’s thinking first and foremost!

The next DLNET Chat will be on Twitter, Friday July 2 at 1pm, so watch this space!

Next DLNET Chat: Towards a hybrid engagement offer

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Lisa Peter

Join us on Friday 4th June, 1-2pm, to talk about balancing physical and digital engagement using the hashtag #DLNETChat

street busker juggling balls in Old Québec

Photo by Yi Liu on Unsplash

After some cultural heritage organisations have been able to reopen to visitors in all the UK nations, learning and engagement teams are now faced with trying to work out whether and how to continue their digital work alongside the return to some face-to-face engagement.

Together as a sector we have learned so much about digital content and online delivery in the last year, tried things out, evaluated and collected valuable experiences and learning, and got to understand digital audiences old and new better than before, and now? What are your thoughts on what a ‘hybrid’ offer could look like? Is it even something to be aspired to in the first place? Join us on Twitter on June 4 to talk about how digital and physical could be balanced in the time to come.

  • What are the expectations of organisations going forward? Go back to previous engagement formats (in a Covid-safe way) AND continue digital work, or is it a question of ‘either/or’, or a Salomonian ‘a bit of both’? 
  • What any data or insights do you rely on to ensure you are listening to your audiences’ needs?
  • How do you allocate sparse resources: What to keep doing, what to stop?
  • How do you address unbalanced strategies so that both onsite and online engagement are seen as business as usual? 
  • How have team dynamics shifted with the move online? Will they have to shift again now?

Watch out for the pre-chat poll on the DLNET twitter account next Wednesday, along with emails to the JISCMAIL lists. Join in with the voting to kick off June’s DLNET Chat, and share your views and experiences!

Evaluation: DLNET Chat May 2021

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Earlier this month, we had an interesting chat on the topic of evaluation. Like it or loathe it, being able to evaluate your content can ensure you stay current and that you are meeting your audience’ needs. However, this is easier said than done! 



With time constraints polling as the most important factor in the evaluation process, lots of people got involved to share some of their tips and tricks in how to get the most out of your evaluation. 


Data Processing

With no time to waste, we’ll start by looking at some time saving techniques for processing data that you’re getting in.


We had a few interesting responses to this, with a discussion about Net Promoter Scores (NPS) coming from the question. An NPS is a metric used to measure visitor satisfaction with a number, usually between -100 and 100. A simple example of this could be “On a scale of 1 to 10, did you enjoy your session today?”. This will give you data that you can look at quickly to determine overall satisfaction. You can read a quick summary of using an NPS in your museum here. And see below for some samples you can use yourself!



Recently, there’s been a trend towards using tools to measure wellbeing and mood before and after a session. One of our chatters suggested this, it looks like a really useful toolkit. 




Speaking of toolkits, we asked people for their opinions on what they thought was the most important technique for gathering this information to begin with! There are survey tools readily available with high levels of customisation to suit your needs. Google Forms has lots of customisation available, as well as a handful of pre-built example surveys that can be edited. Google Analytics as well has useful tools to help track website visits, downloads and demographics. Helen might have hit the nail on the head with this one however;



Keeping your questions succinct and asking only for what you need and for information that you have a use for is key to getting the most out of your evaluation.



We’ve dedicated a bit of this post to time, but there are plenty of other issues that we face when trying to effectively evaluate your output. The discussion focussed on a few important factors to be aware of during the evaluation process. Evaluation involves getting the right answers to allow you to grow, and to get those answers you need to ask the right, meaningful questions to help you gather your information. If you have clear objectives to begin with then you will find it easier. We should take a second to admire Sian’s excellent GIF game during this chat as well.



With most of the world moving into an online space, the difficulties of gathering data online over in person were discussed. We can’t hand out surveys during a session and collect them, we have to rely on folk filling things out for us in their own time. Once the session is over, they might forget to fill out an evaluation form. We can get quantitative data by asking for “thumbs ups” or doing simple polls on zoom but getting measurable data on that is tricky. It seems like openness might be key.

So rather than monetarily incentivising your audience to complete evaluation after a session (love 2 shop vouchers, anyone?), emphasising the importance of their feedback and adding the value that way could help get you the meaningful feedback needed.


Thanks to everyone who joined in on the chat and shared their experiences! If you want to read it all in full, you can click here to go to a Twitter Moment!


Working remotely in Learning Teams: DLNETChat April 2021

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Lisa Peter

Last week, we had a lively discussion on Twitter about how Learning Teams up and down the country have tackled the challenges of remote working. We covered topics from using individual tools to improving collaborative work to management techniques that might help to keep team members motivated and help to fight the isolation some of us might feel while working from home.

Lots of people shared their experiences as well as quite a few tips, so here’s a summary of the things people were talking about.





Perhaps unsurprisingly, people chatted about collaborative tools that can support project work and ideation, for example,  Google documents and sheets, which can be worked on in real time while on meeting calls, even without the need for screen sharing. For looser formats such as brainstorming, Padlet was mentioned (which some also use for teaching support in live sessions, as it’s very popular with teachers). For teams who create a lot of online content and need to ensure consistency in design, check out the online tool Canva to share design templates within teams. 






Another question we asked was around the challenges for teams that come with working from home. For teams that normally work closely with collections and historical properties, not being anywhere near the physical objects they use as source material for learning activity, feels odd, to say the least. 



But which other challenges were identified? Looking back over the conversation, they can probably be summed up as 

  • appropriate levels of communication, 
  • making space for the social side of work, and 
  • sense of achievement.

With team members still on furlough or on flexi furlough schemes, and without the usual ‘soft touch’ means of finding out what is going on otherwise in team members’ lives, it’s tricky to assess whether they have any capacity at that moment in time. Making a conscious effort to find out, and keeping calendars up to date with current work hours and time away from the computer can help to communicate quickly to others whether to expect a reply soon or in a few days’ time.



Getting the amount of communication needed just right seems to be challenging quite generally. Whether working closely with people on a shared project, or trying to stay in touch with quieter team members, chat participants were talking about the usefulness of keeping a number of channels running in addition to emails: chats, DMs, or even an open call in the background while working on things together.



If comms about work are already tricky to get right, then creating the ‘water cooler’ moments remotely seems to be an ongoing headache, especially for more volunteer-driven organisations where the social aspect of volunteering is often as important and integral to the experience as the actual work carried out. 




I think it became clear that we are all grappling with this, and that nobody in the conversation had already found or developed a ‘golden approach’ to this in particular, so if you know of any techniques or examples of ‘creating the space for social’ while avoiding the awkward, let us know!

And finally, staff and team wellbeing emerged as another challenge. Interestingly enough, the culture around being measured along key performance indicators, such as sessions delivered, people engaged with, etc, might contribute to teams not feeling that they achieved very much in the last year, even though they are exhausted.



However, there’s been so much learning this year that has happened behind the scenes, and so much change that wouldn’t be visible in terms of ‘outputs’. These are very real achievements though, that deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated.




Things people wished they’d known a year ago

We finally wanted to know what the 2021 version of us would have liked the 2020 version to know, and it looks like managing expectations and acknowledging the sheer amount of change that is happening at the moment are quite high on the list. It will be interesting to see whether compassionate leadership will turn into a much hotter topic over the coming months and years than we have previously seen.



A big thank you to all the participants who shared their experiences on the day! The next DLNET chat will be on May 7 at 1pm – watch this space for the topic announcement! In case you want to read up on the April chat on twitter, we collated a Twitter Moment with all the tweets.

Next DLNET Chat: Working remotely in Learning Teams

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Lisa Peter

Join us on Friday 9th April, 1-2pm, to talk about working remotely using the hashtag #DLNETChat

With most learning and participation teams throughout the cultural heritage sector shifting to almost exclusive online engagements, many of us have focused on tools, platforms and online delivery skills to get to grips quickly with the world we’re in at the moment. It’s been quite a ride for team leaders as well as colleagues, who not only had to get their heads around how to create online content for their different audiences, but who also needed to create new work patterns, communication channels and workflows in an immensely short period of time.

We therefore wanted to use our DLNET chat in April to take a look at the ‘backstage stuff’ that comes with working remotely, i.e. all the things that are not visible to the public but that are so central to keeping teams going. 

  • What have you learned about your own working styles and patterns as a team since the UK went into its first lockdown this time last year?
  • How have teams managed to pivot to working remotely, often working collaboratively with colleagues across their organisation?
  • Have you come across particularly useful ways of working together on a project, or on resources and other content, while working from home?
  • Have you discovered particularly useful tools for collaborative remote working?
  • Did you and your team develop any strategies to keep those crucial social interactions going that keep teams motivated and can fight any sense of isolation?
  • Was there something you have found out about remote team work that you wish you had known this time last year?

Watch out for the pre-chat poll on the DLNET twitter account next Wednesday, along with emails to the JISCMAIL lists. Join in with the voting to kick off April’s DLNET Chat, and share what worked and what continues to be challenging while many of us are still working from home!

Monetising Online Content: DLNETChat February 2021

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Sian Shaw

To quote ABBA “Money, money, money, must be funny, in a rich man’s world” – and we can all agree that the heritage sector is not rich. So this month, we asked DLNET followers what they thought about monetising online content.

First things first, initial reactions from the community confirmed original suspicions: monetising online content isn’t a straightforward yes or no. 

The lack of a clear-cut answer led to some fascinating Twitter conversations. Here are three key takeaways when thinking about whether to monetise online content:

The “what” makes all the difference

It was quickly apparent that the “perhaps, but not always” response was more linked to the type of content than the organisation it was coming from. There seemed to be a distinction between the more passive, downloadable content and the more active, live experience, with the latter being seen as more likely to be monetised. Unusually, quantity was brought up as a reason for charging, such as for longer, curated learning experiences. As one contributor put it, this allows audiences to “get a better sense of what they’re getting for their money”. Interestingly, a lack of quantity was given as a reason not to charge. Repeatedly, it seemed to be a balancing act, in that if you are charging for some digital learning content, you should make sure that parts of your digital learning offer are free.

As always, audience matters 

It’s easy to think of digital learning as just for schools, but of course it spans all ages ranges who want to access formal or informal learning. The success of adult course and workshops in the last year was highlighted (with mentions of the V&A, Tate and Wallace Museum) as adults appear more eager to pay for a virtual experience, both buying tickets and in pay-what-you-can models. For schools, the ever-changing landscape of fully onsite, blended, and mainly offsite (aside from keyworkers’ children) cannot be ignored when considering appetite. As one contributor said, “Might it be that ‘online museum visits’ are just too much of a luxury right now?” While we know school budgets are tight, for many who may be doing this instead of a school trip, the appetite is growing. There are examples are success in the sector, such as the Jewish Museum London, leaders in the creation of Virtual Classrooms, sharing positive news.

Sector self-doubt still exists

Progress in digital learning across the sector in the last year is undeniable, but conversations remind us that moving forwards doesn’t mean we are completely ready for the shift.  Even if we feel more confident as a sector, we still seem to be doubting ourselves; whether that is not trusting the technology, concerned about how to trouble shoot when things go wrong or confidence in our ability to deliver virtually. All of which hold us back when considering adding a charge. For many organisations, digital learning has been reactionary rather than strategic, which means a lack of training and often the wrong kit. As one contributor shared, “We prioritise practice for technical confidence.” We have to ask, when digital learning is tackled in a more strategic way, will we feel more confident charging?

To sum up

Ultimately, monetising online content will only be successful if the market is willing to pay. The ability to access similar digital learning content or experiences for free was seen as the biggest barrier to generating revenue, but wasn’t deemed as the end of the conversation. When making a charge or no charge decision, two things stood out. Firstly, be consistent with your existing onsite offer – so if schools usually attend for free, the online “visit” should remain free. And secondly, communicate clearly why some things are free and some charged-for. As one contributor mentioned, “Paid-for content also supports organisations to keep offering free things”. We all know that’s not a new message for cultural audiences.

Further reading

Next #DLNET Chat

Join us on Twitter on Friday 5th March 1-2pm, where we are thinking about home learning.  Follow @DLNET and remember to use the hashtag #DLNETChat