News blog

Next DLNET Chat: EDI – Increasing accessibility for all users

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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 info@digitallearningnetwork.net.

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

https://www.musedcn.org.uk/

https://www.aventido.com/ 

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

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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 info@digitallearningnetwork.net.

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.

DLNET Christmas Party!

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Join us this Friday for the DLNET Christmas party! You’re all invited to the digital festivities!

 

It can’t have escaped you that it’s the festive season. You might be having office parties, zoom gatherings or just waiting for the chocolate to drop in price on the 27th. I know what I’m doing. But before that, join us on Twitter this Friday as we look back at the year and the things we’re proud of, look at some of our favourite tools and have a bit of fun while we’re at it. After all, it’s Friday. Wait…it’s Christmas? Where’s my eggnog?!

 

  1. So we’re going to chat about things that we’re proud of doing this year. That could be getting to know new software or maybe championing your digital skills at a conference.
  2. What are you looking forward to next year? Learning new skills?
  3. Did you find any useful tools this year? Cheap or free? How did they help you?
  4. What would you do for you or your organisation if you had unlimited budget?

 Also, come and hang out at our DLNET Christmas tree and chat with us around our “digital baubles“!

See you on Friday!

 

Made with Padlet

DLNET Conference 2021: Making the most of what you have: Ashmolean Home Learning

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Lisa Peter

Helen has managed a variety of learning, interpretation and audience development projects at the Ashmolean Museum over the last 14 years and has a particular interest in digital. A qualified history teacher, she started her career teaching in secondary schools. She also worked in a strategic role at the Museum, Libraries & Archives Council supporting museums and record offices in the East Midlands to develop their learning provision, where she led on the development of 2 websites for teachers.

 

 

Making the most of what you have: Ashmolean Home Learning

 

Session summary coming soon.

 

Take a look at Helen’s slide deck here.

 

Watch Helen’s presentation from the day on the DLNET YouTube channel below:

 

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.

DLNET Conference 2021: Finding Your Place – Programme and Platform Considerations for Different Audience

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Lisa Peter

Jonathan Isip is an assistant professor at the UP School of Library and Information Studies (UPSLIS), and holds additional administrative positions as Information Officer and Graduate Program Coordinator. They work in partnership with the System Administrator to facilitate technology adoption and they advise on data privacy matters in the School, alongside managing its social media accounts, emails, and website. They teach courses in archival theory, records management, information governance, and foundations of information studies. Nathan is a records management and data privacy consultant as well as one of the creators of the archives podcast and video series For The Record.

 

 

Finding Your Place: Programme and Platform Considerations for Different Audience

 

None of us are really strangers to online learning. We have websites, social media accounts, and the occasional business-specific system we constantly keep calling IT to fix. What the pandemic brought about was not so much a shift to digital, but rather a change in the way we think about the services we provide. It was not simply a case of taking what we’ve been doing and putting it online, such as in the case of on-site lectures and workshops.

Of course, exploration comes with risk. New ideas might flop or be complete disasters, but until you try them out, they are just ideas sitting idle. My presentation revolves around understanding: understanding who we are and what we wanted to achieve as an organisation, understanding our stakeholders and their interests, and understanding our content and the way we deliver it.

First, understanding ourselves as an institution. It is important that we don’t see online delivery as a separate activity but rather an integral component of our institutional functions as a university, that of education, research, and service. Understanding this institutional context immediately allows us to classify the types of content we produce, and the desired outcomes and types of learner interaction for each. Similarly, it allows us to consider our limitations, particularly in terms of staff capability, budget, availability of time, and the general enthusiasm and support of management. After all, even if digital content creation, delivery, and management should be integrated in our services, it doesn’t mean than it simply appears and happens. We must ensure that our people are given sufficient time, not to mention technical and moral support to produce the content we provide learners online. Creating a community within the organisation that can share and appreciate the joys of an online learner asking a great question during the Q&A or having new people joining a lecture they would not have otherwise attended due to travel or time-restrictions is a brilliant way to build enthusiasm for online learning among staff.

Of course, at the heart of all these efforts are our audience. Rather, specific groups and types of audiences. While it might be nice to think of reaching out to “everyone” in the wide-open online world, having clear audience groups in mind allow us to tailor our programmes to suit their specific needs. We are able to interact with them through their preferred platforms, but just as important, we can avoid intruding in personal and safe spaces, particularly in case of groups such as students who are practically “required” to engaged with our content. Another thing to consider is that audiences may not necessarily be on the platforms we prefer to use or even be active in those platforms during our regular office hours. It takes a certain amount of compromise and adaptability to find an engagement strategy that works for them and the organisation.

The content itself and the way it is delivered should be tailored to the preferences of our audience. It might make perfect sense to us to make a podcast about our collections, but then people might demand to see photographs or virtual tours. Likewise, an online gallery or exhibition website might be the de-facto way of showcasing graphic collections, but then people might want to see someone on video talking about their favourite photograph. The key to online engagement is to not be afraid to try things out, but also to not be afraid for things to fail. Listen to your audience, read their feedback, study the analytics, and feel free to experiment and change things around.

Nathan’s slide deck can be viewed here.

Watch Nathan’s presentation from the day on the DLNET YouTube channel below: 

 

DLNET Conference 2021: Engaging Families through Videogames: Game Making with Free Tools & Resources

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Lisa Peter

 

Leah Dungay is the Learning Officer at the National Videogame Museum, in Sheffield. She is an experienced museum educator and outreach professional specialising in STEAM and History. During the pandemic, she ran the NVM at Home Workshops and Pixelheads Virtual Summer Club for families and young people at home. These won the ‘Best Website Activity’ from Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museums Award 2020 and the ‘Community Visionary’ Award from MCV Develop.

 

 

Engaging Families through Videogames: Game Making with Free Tools & Resources

 

Over lockdown and in support of our crucial fundraising efforts, the National Videogame Museum launched a series of workshops, livestreams and resources that aimed to get families and young people making games at home. In my role as Learning Officer, I was challenged with minimal budget, so these programmes utilised free online game making tools, that require no coding experience to get started. These tools allow young people to develop new skills in art and design, creative writing, coding and more.

It was crucial to take into account that access to technology and videogames varies greatly, and this became even more evident during lockdown as many struggled to access the tech they needed for remote learning or work. So in developing these activities I wanted to ensure that the game making tools we utilised were almost entirely free and accessible on various forms of technologies (including laptops, tablets, phones, pen and paper), as well as being easy to learn how to use. 

At the museum, we get many questions about engaging with young people who have a keen interest in playing videogames. For many over the pandemic, videogames were important forms of entertainment and social life, but they are also a fantastic tool to explore a wide range of subjects with young people. Consider all the elements that go into developing a videogame – from the art and design, the animation, the music, voice acting and performance, the computing and coding, the engineering, storytelling and creative writing – as well as the teamwork and collaboration that is needed to bring all those elements together. 

Even so, we do recognise that for many, making videogames can seem potentially quite a difficult task. Whilst this can certainly be true, there are many easy to use tools that can get you started making your own games (and running game based activities) – even with no prior experience or coding knowledge. Creating videogames can be an excellent creative outlet and skill building activity for all ages – and is in many ways easier than you might think. 

Here are some of the online game-making tools that we’ve used in our Learning Programmes to get you started: 

 

Platform: Piskel, www.piskelapp.com

Description: Free online editor for creating animated sprites & pixel art. 

Key Themes: Art & Design, Pixel Art, Animation

We have used piskel in many workshops – but in particular we learn how to create and animate videogame characters –  in that activity we also look at the history of characters like Mario, exploring how technical limitations helped shape the characters we know and love today. It can also be adapted to explore a range of topics – as well as exploring changes in technology, we use it to explore creative writing and character design, representation and identity. 

 

Platform: Twine, www.twinery.org 

Description: Free open-source tool for creating and telling interactive, nonlinear stories.

Key Themes: Creating Writing, Literacy, Storytelling, Branching Narratives. 

At the NVM we often highlight the importance of creative writing and storytelling in videogame development and using Twine, we’re able to get people creative and interested in reading and writing, as well as learning how to code and create a videogame!

 

Platform: Bitsy, www.ledoux.itch.io/bitsy 

Description: Online Game Making Tool 

Key Themes: Game Design, Storytelling 

Like Twine and Piskel, Bitsy is another free game-making tool. It is browser based, and the creator has just developed a mobile version. It lets you put together whole games, with levels, dialogues and animation – It has a simple pixel art style that can be used in really unique ways. 

 

3 Key Takeaways for Running Game-Making Activities: 

 

  • Don’t worry about knowing everything before you start and be willing to learn from young people!

  • Create clear and simple instructions for getting started with a new game making platform or activity. 

  • Game making can be a group activity – explore collaboration and get everyone involved (grown ups included).

 

Take a look at Leah’s slide deck here.

 

Watch Leah’s presentation from the day on the DLNET YouTube channel below:

 

DLNET Conference 2021: Marketing the DASH Survey

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Lisa Peter

 

Sara Sartorius is a consultant for The Fifth Sector, she specialises in heritage,  cultural, travel and tourism marketing, with over 20 years’ experience in marketing strategy, planning and delivery. She combines high level analytical, ​communication and organisational skills to create a multi-channel mix of communications that generates high returns on investment.

 

 

The DASH Survey

 

This is a project managed by three key players in the Heritage sector: The National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Heritage Alliance and Timmus Research Limited. 

The main aim of the project is to provide vital insight – for individual organisations, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and to all organisations involved in shaping and supporting UK heritage. The survey represents the only comprehensive measure of how the sector makes use of digital, enabling heritage leaders to better understand and support staff, trustees, and volunteers. 

The main challenge of the project was to reach people via digital methods to achieve awareness building, alliances with key influencers and utilise digital channels where available. 

The campaign used a full mix and a very small marketing budget. We utilised forums where we could influence, produced target email marketing, social media marketing, telephone marketing and blog publications on relevant websites.  

We held a DASH Day, 7 October, for potential survey respondents and also for those “DASH Champions” to provide support and encouragement. 

Members of Timmus and The Heritage Alliance participated in talks with membership bodies, heritage sector leaders and delivered presentations for numerous and diverse conferences. 

Getting to speak with the key audience proved difficult at times, due to a variety of reasons including hybrid working. 

 

Take a look at Sara’s slides from the day here.

 

Watch Sara’s presentation from the day on the DLNET YouTube channel below: 

 

DLNET Conference 2021: Live Learning Sessions from Your Kitchen Table

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Lisa Peter

Jo Rice is Head of Learning at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, interested in so many things at the moment: imaginative and creative learning, playfulness in museums, museums as social spaces, museums and well-being, social and cultural prescribing, reinterpreting collections, co production… and much more! Jo is also a trustee for a small multi-academy trust in rural South Warwickshire.

 

 

Live Streamed Learning Sessions at the Ashmolean: Creating and broadcasting from our kitchen tables, lofts and spare bedrooms

 

Long, long, ago in a time before Covid the idea of creating online learning sessions and then broadcasting them live and direct to schools, colleges, residential homes and living rooms wasn’t something we were doing, planning or had even thought possible.

Our pre-Covid programme was on-site delivery with some in-person outreach work. Our digital learning offer was content available on our website – zoomable images, teachers notes, game, jigsaws, films and audio.

When Covid hit, like all museums we had to adapt and respond. Initially most of the learning team were furloughed so we weren’t doing any development or delivery in the first few months, but during furlough people were continuing to attend training and were independently researching and learning about the things colleagues in the sector were doing so we were in a good position to move quickly when people returned.

Doing live online broadcasts was something we decided we wanted to do and we knew was possible but it was daunting, particularly as we were working from kitchen tables, lofts and spare bedrooms with a random selection of IT equipment and variable home wifi.

We had lots of questions about how we could do it, what platforms we should use, what kit we’d need and what if it goes wrong? There was an understandable nervousness about the technology as no IT back up in your spare bedroom… None us were digital learning specialists and at that time had zero knowledge or experience on Zoom, Teams or Google Classrooms. We did lots of research and the generosity of colleagues in other museums and cultural venues was invaluable, we couldn’t had done what we did without that collaborative support, BUT…..in the end there was only so much research we could do and we just needed to do it and see what happened. The brave soul from our team was Clare Coleman, learning officer for Early years to Key Stage 2 who did a live-streamed session with a primary school. It worked and after that we were off! Our programmes rapidly developed and evolved with new sessions for primary, secondary, families, adult groups as well as a public programmes of talks and workshops being created and launched.

We had a responsive model with programmes for schools, and adult groups created in response to requests from groups rather than creating sessions and hoping that groups would book. This worked well as all sessions had a guaranteed audience as they had been requested. We then added to the list of ‘of-the shelf’ sessions available. That being said, most of our programmes have been bespoke and designed specifically to meet the needs of the group.

Online live sessions worked well. There is an audience for online even with a steady return to onsite visits. Live streamed sessions kept us connected with our existing partners and networks but also allowed us to work differently, with new audiences and with the capacity to work with larger groups. We have worked with schools across the country who would never be able to visit in person and we’ve been part of programmes that would be unlikely to take place on site, for example, contributing to a 6th form lunchtime creative writing group. Online has offered many new opportunities and greater access to many of our audiences. We will be retaining online live programmes as part of our core offer alongside the onsite programme.

Delivering from home worked but is not a sustainable long term model. We have made the case for investment in digital delivery and content creation including the creation of an onsite broadcast studio so we can deliver live streamed sessions from a dedicated space in the museum without the anxieties of variable home wifi sets up and ageing computers.

 

Key learning points:

  • Talk to people & don’t be afraid to ask for help – it’s a really supportive sector, people are happy to share ideas and experiences
  • Try Things– what’s the worst that could happen?
  • Work with what you have
  • Don’t assume everyone else has is sussed and knows what they’re doing… we’re all learning
  • Online is different to in person – don’t try and duplicate your onsite offer in an online session
  • Online is sociable
  • Online can be interactive and mutisensory
  • Investment is needed to grow and develop

 

Links to info on Ashmolean website

www.ashmolean.org/learn

www.ashmolean.org/events

 

You can take a look at Jo’s slide deck here.

 

Watch Jo’s presentation from the day on the DLNET YouTube channel below: