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Adult Learning: #DLNETChat September 2021

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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:

Name:

Position:

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

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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. 

 

 

Tools

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.

 

Issues

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!

 

Next DLNET Chat: Evaluation

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Join us on Friday 7th May, 1-2pm, to talk about evaluating digital learning using the hashtag #DLNETChat

This month’s DLNET chat is all about evaluation. The last year has seen a shift in the way the culture and heritage sector engage and interact with their audience, moving almost exclusively to online and digital content in an effort to keep collections and services accessible and available. A lot of experimentation was involved, new skills learned and trialled by fire to see what worked and what did not work. Now things are slightly calmer, it’s time to think about the best way to evaluate your digital learning offer during the last year.

Evaluation is not a new concept, but with this move to predominantly online content, ensuring you are reaching and being well received by the right audiences is key. Any evaluation is good evaluation. It can be as simple as taking the time after a session to think about what worked and what you would do better next time, or as in depth as hiring a 3rd party to assess data you have collected and translate that into successes and next steps.

With that in mind, we want to hear from you! 

  • What are your experiences of evaluating digital learning in the last year?
  • Have you come up with any unique ways of evaluating a project or content?
  • Have you tried evaluating on the fly? How did it go?
  • What are your views on incentivising your evaluation (if the budget allows) – do you find it helps?
  • What are your favourite tools for evaluation?
  • How you have used your evaluation data to adapt and improve your content?
  • Do you keep both quantitative and qualitative data? Do you prefer one or the other or is a joint approach preferable? 

Keep your eyes peeled for next Wednesday’s DLNET twitter poll, along with emails from the JISCMAIL lists and join in the chat!