Project: Musetech: An Ideal Syllabus

A collaboratively produced guide for today’s top digital skills and literacies

Dot voting results on some of the categorized digital skills and literacies that participants had identified.

November 10, 2017 | MCN | Pittsburgh

Educator and Getty training manager Kathryn Cody and I sought to create a crowdsourced “ideal syllabus” for digital skills and literacies in the museum technology field. The work centered around a workshopping session at MCN in 2018, though we started ahead of time with an email survey asking:

What key digital skills and literacies should form a common vocabulary among our staffs at all levels — including collections specialists, content producers and developers, and leadership — in order to drive digital transformation in our institutions?

From the fifty-five responses, we grouped answers into categories, and used those as the starting point for the workshop. There, we had attendees dot vote the categorized results to help identify the top literacies. Breaking into small groups, the rest of the workshop was dedicated to unpacking those further, and brainstorming resources that others might use in developing their digital skills in those areas. While we never reached a “final” version of the syllabus, the work offered some interesting glimpses into museum technology work today.

Original Project Description

What should someone new to the museum technology field learn? What common topics can those inside the field but in different areas of expertise find common ground on? What areas must someone advancing in the field beyond their own niche expertise and into a position of more holistic management come to understand?

The program for MCN’s first conference in 1968, “A Conference on Computers and their Potential Applications in Museums,” was broken down into six sections: documentary applications, statistical analysis, hardware and software demonstrations, visual applications, computer networks, and museum education. If we consider these six to be the concepts and skills most fundamental to museum technology work at its very dawn, what then is today’s equivalent? Were we to look for answers in a recent MCN program we’d be buried in options. And even were they to be narrowed down into interest groups or tracks, the categories would still be too many to be grasped and too broad to be tackled.

This session will be the culmination of a five-month process leading up to the conference focused on collectively identifying museum technology’s most fundamental concepts and skills, and then providing the ideal syllabus by which to begin mastering them. The pre-conference process will involve the community and seek to answer:

  1. What are the five to ten specific concepts or skills we individually think are most relevant and closest to the core of museum technology work today?
  2. How would we collectively sort and rank the answers into a combined top ten?
  3. What experts in our community can begin to flesh out resources for others, at multiple skill levels, to learn about these core areas?

At the conference itself, session attendees will be the first to see the results, but it will be a working meeting and a chance to hash out the details in person, breaking into groups based upon the identified areas, and discussing where things are right, and what needs more work. All with the ultimate goal of releasing a living, collectively produced document for the benefit of the community today, and into its future.

Other Speakers/Participants

  • Kathryn Cody, Manager of IT Educational Technologies, J. Paul Getty Trust

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