Building Digital Skills in Museums
Culture24’s Digital Skills in Museums (DSM) project is running from October 2016 to the end of March 2018 and will support resilience in museums through building digital skills. The project is funded by Arts Council England through their Museums Resilience Fund.
We believe it is vital museums adapt their thinking and seize the opportunities digital brings to connect more deeply with audiences. Longer term resilience is not possible without this digital evolution and adoption. This project will create new opportunities for growth and partnership for participating Museum Development Services (MDS) and museums by building their digital skills, understanding of audiences and collaborative networks.
Culture24 will pilot practical solutions to help museum professionals understand specific problems and opportunities in three modules, each addressing a different area of need: digital collections, digital marketing and digital learning. We’ll directly support a total of up to thirty museums, a maximum of ten from each of three chosen MDS regions – North West, South West and London. Through a mixture of workshops and mentoring we will help members of staff or volunteers in these partner museums to experiment and develop best practice in their own contexts, solve problems, collaborate and understand audiences.
This DSM project supports a sustainable approach to workforce development by identifying and modelling best practice and working with museums most in need of help. Culture24’s Let’s Get Real methodology already creates, supports and showcases best practice. In this project we will further develop that role and make the practice accessible to a much wider cohort of museums. Our aim is to embed a shift in thinking and practice in participating museums.
Working closely with groups of museums
Our three ‘experimental’ modules will provide supportive environments where museums can collaborate, experiment, test ideas, iterate, track, compare results, discuss and learn with and from each other. Each module has a different focus, but all share this overall approach. Crucially, all participants will be from museums that are struggling or just beginning to work with digital tools and content and have identified this as an area they need support with. See below for more detail on each module.
We will also develop new ‘Digital Skills Pathways’ to help museums just beginning their digital journey to explore new ways of thinking about and working with digital through simple, structured online resources. The idea of this fourth module is to reach out and support the wider museums sector and share learning with staff and volunteers who are not part of the project. This element of the project will be developed, tested and piloted in collaboration with the South East MDS as this is the region in which Culture24 is based. It will then be made available openly on the web for everyone in a range of ways.
Longer term, the Digital Skills in Museums project will help model and hone Culture24’s approach to museums sector support in digital literacies and skills that will form the basis of our wider national offer for all museums and MDS when applying to become one of ACE’s new Sector Support Organisations from 2018 onwards.
The four different modules:
1) Digital collections, with Museum development North West: supporting staff in 10 museums in the North West to understand how to reach and engage adult audiences around communities of interest with digital content from and about collections. Participants will work together to identify/understand their target audience needs; create and publish fit-for-purpose digital content on Culture24’s and their own websites; reach out to and engage communities of interest via a range of channels then track and analyse usage and engagement. This project involves two workshops.
2) Digital learning with museum development london: supporting staff in 10 London museums to understand how to reach and engage children, young people and teachers with digital content from and about collections. Participants will work together to identify/understand their target audience needs; create, publish and package fit-for-purpose digital content on Show.me.uk (and the museums’ own websites if appropriate); reach out to schools, then track and analyse usage and engagement. This project involves two workshops.
3) Digital marketing with south west museum development: supporting staff in 6-10 museums to understand how to reach new/diverse audiences via digital tools and channels, with a focus on Museums at Night festival events. Participants, working as a ‘cluster’ within a certain geographical location in the South West, will work together to identify target audience needs; shape festival events; market the events via a range of digital channels and tactics then track and analyse success. This project involves four workshops/events.
4) Digital Pathways with South East Museum Development: supporting hundreds of museums struggling to start their digital journey by providing them with simple, structured, and accessible online ‘pathways’. These will address common challenges and issues, focus on digital skills and be tailored to museum contexts. Developed in partnership with the MDS and a small group of museums from the South East region who will advise us and test content. Pathways will be presented online and consist of relevant digital resources, Skype surgeries and live webchat, all set within a contextual framework to help museums understand what they need.