What is ‘One by One’? 

‘One by One’ is a 30 month national digital literacy building project for UK museums of all sizes and types.

It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and is led by The University of Leicester in partnership with Culture24,  together with a range of museums, strategic sector agencies and other academic partners.

The project commenced in September 2017 and is due to complete in early 2020.

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What is ‘One by One’ aiming to achieve?

‘One by One’ aims to help UK museums of any size better define, improve, measure and embed the digital literacy of their staff and volunteers in all roles and at all levels.

By introducing a new approach to digital literacy understanding and development, this project aims to create new organisational mind-sets in museums to help support their digital transformation needs.

The project also aims to practically up-skill all staff and volunteers (not just those in technical roles) with comprehensive, on-going, formal and informal digital learning initiatives covering a range of professional and individual digital literacies, enabling staff to more confidently embed digital skills and knowledge in their work.

Specifically the One by One project will design and test a practical digital literacy framework for the UK museum sector that:

- Has clear and well-developed definitions of ‘digital literacy’

- Has evidence to demonstrate its effectiveness

- Is adopted sector-wide, with multiple touchpoints

- Is characterised by collective responsibility and ownership

- Is flexible, evolving, adaptable, assuming change

- Is sustainable within organisations

- Has buy-in from sector leadership

This project is critical for the museum sector. Why?

This project is needed to address the lack of digital skills within museums and other cultural organisations, highlighted in numerous recent studies and reports (e.g.Digital Culture Report 2015, NMC Horizon Report 2016 Museum Edition, 2015 Report by the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value)  as a major obstacle towards cultural organisations achieving their digital ambitions.

Recent discussions about how museums can become more responsive to digital change (See ‘The Baltimore Principles’, launched at recent Museums and the Web Conferences) indicate a shift in the way they need to think about digital training. Museums need to develop their thinking:

- From being about ‘technical skills’ around specific forms of technology, to being about ‘digital literacies’;

- From digital training being ‘about technology’, to being ‘with technology’; and

- From ‘reactive training’ within an institution (where skills can become siloed), to ‘strategic improvement and professional development’ across the whole institution.

Whilst these recent studies and discussions identify the digital skills and literacy gaps within museums, none of them go onto define what these are, nor what the most effective interventions to realise them could be. 

This represents an important ‘capacity gap’ that the ‘One by One’ project aims to fill.

How will the project run?

The project advocates the use of human centred design principles, and this is demonstrated within the project’s own methodology. Therefore the project will pursue the following steps:

Empathising with museum needs, through researching existing museum digital skills provision.

Defining what museum digital literacies are required to meet museum needs.

Ideating and Prototyping a practical model of digital literacy building within museums.

Testing out the prototype model within partner museums of different functions, sizes and locations.

Sharing the final proposed museum digital literacy framework with the sector.

Who is involved in the project?

The programme will be managed as a partnership between The University of Leicester (School of Museum Studies), Culture24 and 6 partner museums. These museums are

- National Museum Wales,

National Museums Scotland,

National Army Museum

Museum of London

Derby Museums and

- Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton.

Additional academic research input will be provided by CAMEo, the Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies, University of Leicester; and The Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick.

In addition the project has gathered an important group of strategic stakeholders to represent the needs of all museums, provide vital advisory support, and to share and implement the project’s key findings. These are Arts Council EnglandMuseums AssociationAssociation of Independent MuseumsMuseum Development NetworkHeritage Lottery FundNational Museum Directors’ CouncilCollections Trust and Nesta.

The project is also advised by two noteworthy international scholars in the field of digital heritage, namely Phyllis Hecht (Director of the MA Museums Studies program, John Hopkins University, US) and Vince Dzeikan (Director of Graduate Research in Design, Monash University, Australia).

One by One is also thrilled to be partnering with FutureLearn who will host the key output of the project, namely an open online professional development resource focusing on building the digital literacy of museum professionals.

How can I find out more?

A dedicated project site will be available soon, together with more information about the project and its emerging findings. In the meantime if you have any questions about the project please contact either:

- Dr Ross Parry, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Digital), The University of Leicester  rdp5@leicester.ac.uk

- Sejul Malde, Research Manager, Culture24 sejul@culture24.org.uk