What is One by One? 

‘One by One’ is a 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 University of Leicester in partnership with Culture24,  together with a range of museums, various strategic sector agencies and other academic partners

What are One by One’s planned outcomes?

One by One will provide a new practical framework to help museums better define, improve, measure and embed the digital literacy of their staff 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 (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. These point to a move from thinking about ‘technical skills’ around specific forms of technology, to thinking instead about ‘digital literacies’; a move from digital training being ‘about technology’, to being ‘with technology’; and a switch in emphasis from ‘reactive training’ within an institution (where skills can become siloed), to ‘strategic improvement and professional development’ across the whole institution.

However 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 programme will be implemented using human centred design principles, pursuing the following steps:

Empathising with museum needs, though 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 unique partnership between University of Leicester (School of Museum Studies), Culture24 and a range of partner museums including National Museum Wales, National Museums Scotland, National Army Museum, Museum of London, Derby Museums and Royal Pavilion and Museums.Additonal academic research input will be provided by CAMEo, the Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies at the University of Leicester, as well as the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick.

In addition the project has gathered a broad range of strategic stakeholders to provide key advisory support. These include the Arts Council England, Museums Association, Association of Independent Museums, Heritage Lottery Fund, National Museum Directors’ Council, Museum Development Network, Collections Trust and Nesta.

The project is also advised by two noteworthy international scholars in the field of digital heritage: 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).

When will this project take place?

The project will be commencing in Sept 2017 and will run for 3 years concluding with key learning and outputs to share with the sector in early 2020.

How can I find out more?

A dedicated project site will be available soon. In the meantime if you have any questions about the project please contact Sejul Malde, Research Manager, Culture24 on sejul@culture24.org.uk