Competencies, Capabilities And Literacies

Our collections may be digitised, and our exhibits interactive. Our channels may be multiple and our infrastructure technical. And yet, whatever the level of connectivity we might have in our museums, whatever prevalence of technology there may be, everything, always comes down to the skills of the staff at the heart of the organisation. That is why for the last two years the ‘One by One’ national research project in the UK (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council) has been attempting to understand the conditions that need to be in place in any museum to allow digital skills to thrive in the workforce. Bringing together leading professional agencies within the UK (including the Museums Association, Association of Independent Museums, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, Culture24 and the Collections Trust) this 30-month project is now nearing completion and is ready to explore its insights with the MCN community. This session will share the findings of the six action research projects (led by a network of ‘Digital Fellows’ embedded in museums across the country), each exploring the critical importance to digital skills development of: clarifying values; distributing leadership; centering people; ensuring agency; and cultivating creativity.


Unknown Speaker 00:00
Okay, Okay, how about we How about we make we make a startling. So I'm Ross Perry, I'm from the school of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. And we have at least three microphones in front of me. So if we start getting some crazy effects do say, and let's see what let's see what happens. I want to tell you a little bit about a project that we've been running for the last couple of years, called one by one. One by one is a national HRC funded so funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK, one of about half a dozen Research Councils funded by UK research and innovation in the UK, we got half a million pounds two years ago to bring together 20 partners around this idea of building digital skills for the UK museum workforce. For 567 years, a series of reports all started to say the same thing. We may be 50 years into digital transformation in the museum sector. And actually MCN sort of always stands, ultimately, as that as that kind of marker to show us how long we've been in this world of museum computing. But even after five decades, we still report to Nesta in our annual survey in the UK that we don't feel that we have the digital skills in our museums to meet our ambitions and our x the expectations of our audiences. Why is that? Why is that that 50 years after a computer first arriving in a museum, you know, 20 years, 25 years after you know, the big web explosion 1015 years after going mobile what why is it? Why is it that UK museums are still reporting to government that they don't feel that they have the digital skill sets in their institution that they need? So one by one was a collective response to that it brought together not only academics from around the world, but it brought museums and government agencies swarming around this issue of how do we how do we understand the conditions that need to be in place in a museum for digital confidence to thrive? The story started in museums and the web 2014. Actually, there were some people in the room here, including Paul Marty, who was on on that platform when curriculum developers and training providers around the world decided to think about what what what should the 21st century curriculum look like for museum studies programs and training those those curators for the 21st century, on the back of that event, we established something called the Baltimore principles that said, Actually, we need to take a whole institute institution view, actually, there probably isn't just one single curriculum that we all need to be building, we need to be changing our mindset, the way that people are supported at work, peer to peer is, is evolving. And actually technological boundaries are moving continually. So how can we actually even come up with a single a single list of technical skills, maybe digital skills aren't just for it for you in an organization, but they're, but they're for everyone. Maybe they shouldn't just develop through training events, but actually there should be continuous learning within a learning culture within an organization. So the Baltimore principles then turned into this bit that at the LA museums and the web conference, we tested with a wide group 75 people in the room really helping us kick the tires on the proposal. And it allowed us to Submit to submit the idea. So we have academics involved in the project, including Phyllis hex from Johns Hopkins University, representing the US on the on the project and Vince Seacon. from Monash in Melbourne on Australia, we have six museums that from the outset have helped us to shape this bit. This isn't one of these research projects where research has been done to the museum that the museum is an object and academics are knocking on the door of museums. Once the project has been conceived and saying can we make you a case study? Not we've been doing the opposite of that. The museums represented here National Museum, Wales national museums, Scotland, Darby museums, Royal Pavilion Museum,

Unknown Speaker 04:04
Brighton and Hove, the Museum of London National Army Museum. They were in the room as we conceive this project. So we are co researchers, they co own this project. It is coming from the museum community and its needs. The really exciting thing and the thing that's actually once in a generation in the UK perspective, and this might seem slightly odd from from the UK, or from a US vantage point is that we brought together the government agencies, the professional bodies, and other arm's length bodies in a way that hadn't been done before. So we have the museum's association of the UK, we have the association of independent museums. We have the National Museums directors Council, we have culture 24, the digital agency that I'm sure many of you know, collections trust, who look after the spectrum standard, that documentation standard. We have the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as they're now called. And we have Nesta who are the group that's the National Endowment for science technology and the Also in the UK, that groups never worked together before. So that moment of need, being able to establish a secure the resource and being able to bring and build trust and an empathy between this extraordinary group of people that hadn't happened. And we we have a great sense of responsibility that we have a once in a generation opportunity to get this right. The other reason why it resonated so much in the UK was because of a series of government strategies and policies that were published through sort of 17 and 18. We had a new industrial strategy for the UK, we had a digital strategy for the whole of the UK, we had a report called The Mendoza report, which was a review of on the future of museums, again, coming from government. And we also had this so we have a we have a cultural ministry in the UK, we have a department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport, pretty crazy family of, of departments there. It used to be the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and they changed the D to digital to kind of signal the kind of aspiration of this current government's intent to support digital transformation in the UK. They released this report in May to march 2018. Culture is digital was asking for Arts Council and our national lottery Heritage Fund to lead the establishment of three things to write a new digital code are kind of a charter a set of principles that not just museums, but the whole of the culture sector could line up to, they wanted Arts Council and Heritage Lottery Fund to establish a network of digital champions and advocates that would work across the country to support all cultural organizations in becoming digital. And they wanted us to create a toolkit or ideally a single resource, that would be a kind of business maturity tool that any cultural organization could use to help it understand where is digital in our organization. So you probably be familiar with some of these business maturity tools. But what if we designed one for the culture sector? What did we design one that worked specifically for museums and spoke our language and not a generic business language, but spoke to our particular sensibilities and characteristics and tenets? So we we were up and running when that report came out? So we were absolutely the right group of people asking the right questions at the right time. So even more kind of opportunity and responsibility and this overwhelming sort of privilege that we had, that we're very aware of, of being in this opportunity to make this happen.

Unknown Speaker 07:39
So what do we do, rather than conceiving it as a kind of scientific research project where we had a hypothesis, and we tested it and wrote up results, we saw the whole thing as a design thinking exercise. So we spent six months going through empathize, we went around the country, we ran workshops and focus groups, we did surveys, we did an online survey, we did a social media kind of consultation, as well through something called museum hour in the UK, we read 300 documents and did an extensive literature review on kind of reports and things are out there. And on the back of that we were able to produce a kind of landmark report on on the UK museums digital skills ecosystem. And if you go to the one by one website, you'll get a download a copy of that report. So that helps us to see where are we? So we had our own evidence and our own kind of insights into into what the context was. That followed by six months of define, you know, those five stages of design thinking you empathize, to understand your context, you define to identify those needs, and then you start ideating, the possibilities, and then you, you prototype and then test those responses. And then you finally share and your findings with your users and your wider group. So in that second stage, we worked with culture 20 for the digital agency in the UK that works with museums and supports digital skills. And again, another report that you can get online shows what we found out those very, very specific needs that the museum sector told us, after a three week, a three month ideation process, where we brought all the partners together and said, Okay, given this context, given these needs classic design thinking, how might we now as a collective respond to those needs to make substantive, real scalable change within the UK? So for the last nine months, we've had a network of six digital fellows that have been working across the UK embedded in six muse in six museums, five digital fellows embedded in six museums. Absolute rockstars it's just been a complete case of Avengers Assemble. I'm so lucky that Sophie yoti, Maki, Lauren, and Karen, you know, they are from the US. They're from Canada. They're from Denmark. They're from Italy. They are an extraordinary group. group of people. So we're using action research. So we thought about what we could do what we thought about what the changes that could be made within museums that would allow digital confidence and digital skills to start thriving in organizations. So we tested it. So each of these postdocs spent a year in a museum and the museums were incredible in this in their support and open mindedness and how they were willing to kind of be changed. So we have support right up to the, to the director. And what our digital fellows did supporting each other, moving between institutions, is they follow through a real project of change that was strategically significant for the museum. But then they were able to step out of themselves and reflect upon that change that they've been able to make. And each project was number one, it helped the museum just get somewhere. Substantively, and importantly, secondly, as a standalone kind of research insight, I'll show you what they found out in a moment. But thirdly, all the projects kind of fit together. So as well as being standalone, they all connect together. And help us to understand all of these different conditions that we think need to be in place for digital transformation to kind of thrive within an institution. So what were the needs that we found out? There were three big ones really where you can find the details and the nuances and the subtleties of all of this, but really, I kind of carry them around my head in this way. First of all, the UK museum sector said, can we just be clear on what we're talking about? We talk about virtual and digital when we talk about computing. And then we talk about skills and literacies and competencies and training and curriculum. And sometimes it can just I'm paraphrasing some of the responses we've got, sometimes it just feels like white noise. And we're at risk of speaking across purposes. And the danger is that we can conflate very important but very different concepts.

Unknown Speaker 12:05
So let's try and do what happened in the UK sector 15 years ago in education, which was that there was this extraordinary moment of clarity, a project calling accord inspiring learning for all established a framework called the generic learning outcomes. And this was a moment when the whole museum education education community came together, work with government and said, Can we just agree what we mean by learning in a museum. And maybe we could agree that kind of the elements of that, and maybe we could start using the same vocabulary so that we can have a really inclusive conversation. And by the way, when when we have those shared principles, that common language, and by the way, let's develop a set of methodologies that will help us to evaluate those different types of learning, skills, development, empathy, knowledge, and so on, and so on. Let's let's therefore, start working as a collective so that when we're talking to funders, when we're talking to policymakers and government, when we're talking to key stakeholders, where we're more powerful as a collective, because we have a kind of single voice, and you know what we can share our data, and we can share our evidence and evaluation across the UK, because we have this shared framework around education and learning. And that's what we've been doing with generic learning outcomes, and now just embedded within hundreds 1000s of museums around the world and across the UK. So can we have that moment again, that moment of clarity, that moment of collegiality, that moment of working as an ensemble than a collective and realize that we're in this together? So if we can agree some principles, and some frameworks we can be, we can achieve more. The other thing that community told us was that we've been asking the wrong question for the last 1020 years. And actually, that question we were asking in Baltimore, may even have been the wrong question. We thought that we needed to come up with a single curriculum. We thought this was about trying to put on the back of a postcard, the 10 things that people needed to be able to do in museums in the 21st century, hey, we all need to know how to do 3d printing and run a Fab Lab and use Twitter and you know, know how to manage a CRM. Actually, that's the wrong question. We need to completely pivot that. We need to recognize that every museum is different. That every museum will take a different pathway to digital maturation as eloquently and fluidly put by Lauren Vargas, one of the posts that postdocs on the program. We need to recognize that in your organization, you have different people who are on their own different pathways to kind of digital kind of capability and fluency and confidence, and that at different times your organization's relationship with digital with digital is going to ebb and flow and change. There's no silver bullet. There's no single list. There's no no universal curriculum, there isn't a homogenized solution global solution for digital skills development. Actually, what we really need is not a curriculum and a list from top down, what we need from below is the tools and resources and insights that would allow any individual and any institution to build the conditions in their organization, on their terms in their way that will allow digital confidence to thrive. So it wasn't about coming up with a list of skills, which is actually what we thought it would be at the beginning of the project, it's actually turned out to be about understanding the conditions that need to be in place so that you develop the skills that are right for you, and your team and your institution. The other needs that came through in that first year, the project is, please, please, can we make this useful? Can we make this practical, what we don't want is a series of abstract scholarly conceptual models and definitions that we don't understand. What we don't want is a series of reports that we just put on the shelf, and forget about what we want are some practical tools, some resources, some guides, things that I can start using tomorrow, that can allow me to start building additionally confident institution, make it useful, speak plainly to us, make it clear, make it accessible, and inclusive to our diverse sector. So clarify the terms, let's share some concepts and principles. Let's understand the conditions rather than write a list and a curriculum. And let's make this practical. And then we'll be able to change the museum sector from below and recognize that it's about seeing every institution as unique.

Unknown Speaker 16:53
So that's what we did. So the first thing was about trying to understand what do we mean by digital. And we spent quite a long time talking to various stakeholders and users and museums and communities about this. And we realized that we had all been speaking at cross purposes. And then when you talk to one training provider, or one company, or one consultant, or the Arts Council, or that the head of digital, actually, they're using the word digital in a different way. So this is the model that we're now using. And this is the model that's being embedded now within what you'll see in a moment, things like the digital charter in the UK, and the digital maturity index and all the outcomes of one by one. Digital something you use. I'm doing it now. Digital is hardware and software. It is technology, it is it is the equipment itself. So when sometimes when we talk about digital, we mean that, but digital is sometimes and this is a kind of a voguish thing that's happened in the last 10 years, and particularly heads of digital will use this word in this context. Yeah, we're doing digital. Where are you with digital, what they mean is how they manage digital, digital strategy, digital as workflow digital as decision making digital as operational things as policy. So digital is also how we manage things. But then talk to those who are looking after collections talk to those who are looking after data. Digital is also something we create, it's the assets, it is the things that the museum either makes, or has. It is digital collections. But it could also be those creative outputs, those learning resources that are made in institutions as well. So it's a technology. It's a process, but it's also a thing, it's an output. It's a product, it's something we create. But then if we think about how we sometimes refer to digital, the digital age, our digital society, where are we with digital in our lives, digital is also a societal quality. It's a characteristic condition of our modern age. This is about being connected. This is about the world changing because of digital. This is about us having conversations about truth and trust within the Digital Age. This is us thinking about duty of care, and safeguarding and wellbeing for everyone online in a digital age. This is about IP and IPR and GDPR. And all of those things around around around digital in a in a in a connected society. So digital is also a quality and aspect of way of thinking and mindset within our modern lives as well. So we're starting to use this term now in a much more differentiated and clear and specific way. And just as we sorted out digital in our minds, we started to think very clearly about what do we mean by skills, this word gets so confused in in our writing and in our discussions and policies. So we're now being very clear that a skill is made up of three things. It's made up of a competency it's it's being able to To use a piece of technology, you know, I can I know how to tweet, that is my competency. My capability is I know how to run a successful social media channel for a museum. So that's much more not about action, but about intention. I'm capable of running a social media channel for an institution, because of my competencies that include knowing how to use Twitter. The thing that we've been missing, particularly in the UK, is the literacy. My literacy is my ability to reflect upon my capability and competency. And to know what good looks like, what what's best practice in my sector for running a social media channel? Should my institution be running a social media channel? Where could I be taking the social media channel within my organization, that that wider reflectiveness and being able to consider digital not just being able to do things with it or achieve things with it? That's your literacy, your digital literacy is that reflectiveness and that ability to see things in a wider context, all of those three things are your skill.

Unknown Speaker 21:11
So this is what we did in the in the six in the six institutions to museums work together the Museum of London and the National Army Museum. So that's why we have five fellows across six institutions. So we identified vision, leadership, process, culture, and people and you know, you'll recognize these from McKinsey kind of ways of slicing up institutions. So we started from some very sort of familiar organizational, critical critical management studies views of an organization. So we ran a project, looking at each of these different areas and thinking what why might vision Why might leadership Why might process be a significant condition within a museum that's trying to build digital confidence. So we ran a project to Darby museums for a year Darby Museum is building a brand new museum, a museum of making so we were in the room when the team Tony Butler, Hannah Fox, these incredible incredible professionals are writing their vision. We had a front row seat Marco masks on the digital fellow was facilitating some of the workshops with the team as they started to think about their digital roadmap. So we have this kind of once in a generation insight where one of our researchers was in the room at the birth of a new museum and could see and listen and understand how digital was embedded within its vision visioning process, how digital is now embedded within its vision, and now what the consequences are for the whole institution. Now that the institution, from its nascent see sees itself in digital terms. By the way, their vision doesn't use the word digital at all. But there are assumptions within it that assume a connected world and that they are an organization that will work in a digital way. Our leadership projects involved. The Museum of London and National Army Museum brand new director at the National Army Museum Museum of London is now building itself a new museum of Docklands. They are both trying to think about who leads digital in our organization, Lauren Vargas, the extraordinary digital fellow that worked across those two institutions. She sat next to the director, you know, one day a week and started to conceive new ways in which a distributive model of digital leadership could be embedded within the institution. She's written them a playbook of managing digital transformation within their organization, who leads digital, how do they lead? Why digital leadership is not just wrapped up in one CDO, or one CIO, that everyone in some way leads digital. That's the work and that's the insights we've been getting through that project. Processes, Karen deviltry at national museums, Scotland brought the new media department and the HR department together, so that their annual personal development review the annual appraisal for every single staff member, It now includes a section on digital skills. The museum didn't know what the needs were of its staff. It didn't have no way of kind of calibrating or getting a heat map of what skills people already have and what their aspirations were. So she's now embedded a very thoughtful set of questions using our kind of framework. That now means National Museums Scotland is having a conversation with the whole organization, a large national museum, having a conversation now with all its staff, about individual digital skills. National Museum Wells yoti Gu, Das was able to be an influencer. He started to make digital cool. He started a kind of lunchtime workshop, he had got people leaning in and wanting to come to these kinds of Show and Tell events, he got external speakers and he changed the culture around digital in the institution. He made it visible and vibrant and fun, and something that everybody could start talking about, very different to that technical procedural change that that Karen and Lauren were making in the other institutions. The OTS project is all about how do you change the weather in an organization? How do you change To the atmosphere, how do you get people starting to feel comfortable to start talking about digital, which is also the project that Sophie does down in Royal Pavilion Museum, Brighton and Hove. That's a museum that was reticent and nervous about using digital, there was real anxiety in the workforce about starting to use digital.

Unknown Speaker 25:20
Sophie, she's written about, and we can't wait to start sharing her findings about this notion of building digital courage, not just digital confidence, but digital courage. When a workforce is nervous and hesitant about taking a first step with digital, she did a few things. They've now written a social media policy, as a collective, she brought the whole organization in and say, Come on, we're gonna write this together. So she's got this wonderful case study of how to bring in a wider workforce into into decision making around digital. And the other thing she's done, which is mind blowing me brilliant, is that she started a new podcast, and this will get launched. In the new year, she's got about 10, or 12, episodes all queued up. So staff are now talking about their digital journeys. So the act of starting to talk about digital through quite a fun podcast, quite irreverence, folk podcast, involving everyone from the director, staff conservator, that garden is involved in one episode as well. And they have beautiful gardens in the pavilion. It's the organization just starting to reflect about what they're doing each day and what they're doing about digital. So we think it's going to be a very exciting series that a lot of people are going to want to listen to kind of globally. But the act of doing that of being part of the production as well. And putting it together is actually an indirect way of just starting to gently bring people into our digital world, and to build their digital courage. What we've learned, we've learned that visioning prioritizes, digital, you need digital in your vision indirectly, directly overtly, or in a more kind of tacit way. But by having digital implicitly within your vision, it allows digital to be prioritized with your institution, it matters to us, if it's not there, than actually you're always making a case for digital. It's your leadership that will activate digital, those leaders and execs but also how everyone across the institution who wants to start mobilizing digital, it's how they will activate that digital change. But you need those processes to enable digital to happen. You can have a motivated leadership team, it can be in your vision. But if your business, some of those fundamental business processes, if they're not in place, then you won't be able to digital change to take place. You need that culture, though. Think about what yoti did in Cardiff, that's what will support and sustain that, that that that transformation of your organization. And most of all, you need to invest in those individuals that will ultimately be people that will drive digital change for your organization. So we've learned that there are three words that are important to us. It's about making sure that you understand that digital transformation and building digital confidence is right for you. So and all the frameworks and the resources we're putting together are about how you build digital competence for your institution. It's about you understanding that this involves the whole organization, it's not about putting people on a course, it's not about saying we need some training and a workshop over there. No, actually, it requires you to look at every aspect of your institution. And for digital, genuinely work authentically and to be sustained. It has to be connected to the vision, the mission of your institution. If if you can build that connection between digital transformation, and social purposefulness, and be digitally purposeful, then you won't be struggling to make a case for digital, it'll be part of who you are. So because of these skills, and because of this definition of digital, what we've been able to do in the last few months, and what you'll see coming online next month, and the month after is the digital tracker and the charter that Tanya Nelson spoke about in the keynote, you know, we helped build that. So we now have a digital cultural charter for the UK sector that has these principles and vocabulary embedded within it. We have a number of resources, practical resources, 20 resources are going to go live in the new year, how to practical guides, case studies, explainer reflective pieces. And they're going to sit on a resource called Digital pathways. And as I wrap up, and this is something to maybe just pick up with those of you that wants to sort of chat afterwards. Next month, we're putting in an application to the HRC Ukri new scheme that allows us to start thinking about ways in which we can take one by one to the US there are a number of themes that the report lists and it's the last one that's interesting for us. The last theme that you can get funded is around digital development and digital skills. We're now in the process of putting a bit together that will bring Iam and the UK museums Association MCN and McG in the UK

Unknown Speaker 29:55
swarming around a number of academics across the UK and the US Science Museum The VNA National Museum Wales national museums, Scotland, as well as a number of US institutions with the Smithsonian being very generously prominent and all of this for us to do something very similar next year, who here in the US, if you'd like to find out more please, please, you know, grab me after, after this discussion, a whirlwind. Spin around one by one. I'm gonna be here for the rest of today. So please come and grab me if you if you need to have a chat. I'm sorry. I've kind of decided to keep talking rather than take questions, but it's a very short it's a very short 30 minutes, but thank you for coming. Thank you so much.