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


News blog

Evaluating Digital Projects… Or why we shouldn’t use social media to evaluate museum projects!

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Stuart Berry

Our recent ‘live’ Twitter chat, #DLNETChat on 3 March looked at the topic of evaluating digital projects, and it’s clear that there was a lot to be said on the subject.

We have done our best to compile a Storify of the conversations which took place on the subject – click here for more details.  However, here we are picking out some of the particular discussion points which may be of interest.

Our ice-breaker poll launched on Twitter before the chat started, and was contentious in the options which were conspicuously absent:

Some very good links were shared, even before the ‘live’ chat started…

Once things got going, John McMahon brought plenty of good advice…

Others contributed some good links too:

There were also some very interesting side discussions, including one about Sentiment Analysis (click here for a Wikipedia article), which is essentially a way of digitally analysing qualitative data including social media posts and comments…

And it very quickly transpired why this might particularly apply to museum audiences especially…

There were many other useful and interesting conversations, including links to case-studies, tools and methodologies in the chat, so please look at the Storify for the full run-down…

Don’t forget to look out for our next #DLNETChat on the first Friday of the month, and watch our Twitter account for further details!

#DLNETChat – our live monthly Twitter get together…

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Stuart Berry

Our regular followers and subscribers might already be familiar with our regular live #DLNETChat Twitter events, but for those of you who are new to us, new to Twitter, or who just wanted a quick recap, here is your definitive guide to #DLNETChat


What is #DLNETChat?

#DLNETChat is a monthly live discussion on the subject of digital learning or digital engagement in a cultural setting. Many who take part are from a museums or heritage background, but we are keen to involve anybody from the wider arts or cultural sector.

Each month’s Chat has a specific topic, such as formal learning, using mobiles, etc. and there are a range of questions and discussion points raised to prompt further discussion and enable as many people as possible to join in.

The Chats usually take place on the first Friday of the month, at 12.00pm, and last for an hour. Keep an eye on the @DLNET Twitter account, the #DLNETChat hashtag or the Digital Learning Network email group for details of when the next chat will be, and what the subject is.

That sounds great, what else do I need to know?

Anybody can join a Chat, just make sure you use the #DLNETChat hashtag when you tweet, in order for everybody else involved to pick it up. Try and keep to the subject matter, although invariably the conversations do stray from time to time.

If you have a specific request for a Chat subject, or a particular question you would like answering, why not tweet direct to @DLNET, or send an email to the Digital Learning Network email group.

I’m new to Twitter, what do I do?

If you are new to Twitter, joining a Chat could be daunting, so follow the steps below to get involved.

You will need to be logged on to Twitter, it doesn’t matter if you are using a desktop, a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone – you can follow using the Twitter website through your browser (e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer) or through an app on a tablet or smartphone. I use the Tweetdeck app in my browser, as it allows me to follow several strands at the same time, but the normal Twitter app or website is just as good.
In the search box, search for the ‘#DLNETChat‘ hashtag (hashtags are not generally case-sensitive) and this will bring up a list of Tweets using the hashtag. There can sometimes be options after you have searched, such as ‘Latest’, ‘Top’, etc. these will filter the Tweets – use the option that says ‘Latest’ or ‘Live’ as this means that you will see all the Tweets in time order, rather than just the ones which have had the most engagement. You can also keep an eye on the @DLNET Twitter page to see the Tweets coming from DLNET directly.
If you see a Tweet you want to engage with, just retweet, like or reply to it, using the icons at the bottom of the Tweet. If you reply, remember to include ‘#DLNETChat‘ in the text of your Tweet, people tend to either put the hashtag at the very start or very end of the Tweet, but it is just a case of personal preference. You can also join in by asking your own questions or making comments, again remember to include the ‘#DLNETChat‘ hashtag somewhere in the text of the Tweet – if you are commenting in reference to somebody else’s comment, it is possible to link to or quote their original Tweet, but it is usually good to at least mention them by their Twitter @name.

Innovation and Digital Education at Oxford University Museums

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Helen Ward

In advance of this summer’s joint event with Oxford University Museums Partnership (OUMP) , Jessica Suess, Digital Partnership Manager shares some of the digital learning initiatives happening in Oxford’s University Museums

A key area of interest over the past few years has been investigating how we can utilise digital to enhance our learning offer, making it more engaging, effective, and accessible to a larger number of people. We have been fortunate that we have been able to support this with a programme we have run since 2012: the Innovation Fund (part of our Arts Council Major Partner Museum programme). This is an internal funding stream to which colleagues from across the museums can apply for a modest amount of money to support projects that experiment with new ways of working and engaging audiences.

One of the first projects that we funded was Digital Sketchbooks. The Ashmolean had already been utilising third party apps to support facilitated secondary Art and Design visits, helping students to gather their stimuli more quickly, and collate and present their work in different ways. For the project the team created a series of videos for teachers and students explaining how these apps could be used to enhance an Art and Design visit. These have been very successful, being picked up and promoted by iTunes not long after they were launched, and through the Innovation Fund we are in fact now supporting the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum to explore a similar resource for family visitors, explaining how they can use free third party apps to create their own trails and activities. Find out more 

Another project we supported was the Sensing Evolution app at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, designed to facilitate the teaching of evolution at the museum for both primary and secondary groups.  Linked to new specimen touch tables in the museum court that are designed to tell the story of evolution, the app takes students from this display out to other objects in the collection that relate to evolution in a kind of scavenger hunt. Students are given clues to locate objects, which will unlock a video – presented by Steve Backshall for primary students and Alice Roberts for secondary students – and they are then asked a question about what they learnt in the video to unlock the next object:

In the most recent round of the Innovation Fund, again looking at Art and Design, we worked across the four museums with our Art Education Coordinator on Museum Sketchbooks. GCSE and A Level students often come into the museums to get inspiration for themed sketchbook pages that they submit as part of the examination portfolio. For the project we wanted to digitise example sketchbook pages, selecting examples that best reflect the examination criteria, to make them more accessible, but we also wanted to take it a step further. So as well as digitising the sketchbooks we created a platform which allowed us to put hotspots anywhere on the image, giving our teaching staff the opportunity to provide more information about individual elements of the sketchbooks eg why objects and techniques were selected. This project is due to fully launch after Easter.

We have learnt a lot over the past few years, but there are still a lot of areas where we would like to expand our knowledge, for example methods for refining student and teacher needs, evaluating our impact in the formal learning context, and integrating digital seamlessly into our education strategy. We see this upcoming conference and partnership with DLNET as a fantastic opportunity to expand our knowledge by sharing thoughts and ideas with colleagues across the sector.

Digital Learning in Museums Conference – 16 June 2017, Museum of Natural History, Oxford

The call for papers is now open, closing midday on 10 April 2017 – full details:

Tickets will go on sale on Wednesday 19 April 2017.