This resource contains the full seminar recording, alongside some shorter clips highlighting some of the key and interesting talking points made by the speakers: Zoe Amar (Director, Zoe Amar Digital and trustee, Charity Digital), Anra Kennedy (Culture24), Nora McGregor (Digital Curator, The British Library) and Sian Shaw (Digital Learning Manager, Westminster Abbey & Chair of the Digital Learning Network). It also features a number of useful resources, reports and toolkits to help you with digital skills, literacy and capacity within your own heritage organisation.
Just relying on digital skills surveys to understand the skills needs of your organisation can be a challenge. If you ask people what they need to know, you’ll often not get a straight answer. Or, they might think they know what is needed, but in reality, what they need is unknown. There’s a great quote by Donald Rumsfeld which summarises this paradox quite well.
“… there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know”.
Donald Rumsfeld, American politician
This applies directly to digital skills. It is also important to remember that the digital transformation or evolution of your heritage organisation is never going to be pinned on specific digital skills, rather it’s about having a matrix of appropriate skills across all of your different areas of work. This framing for how you can understand and unpack digital skills is a useful resource to help kickstart those necessary conversations.
A significant part of understanding digital skills and literacies is about understanding people, how they use digital tools and technologies already and their concerns around digital. This applies to your staff as much as it does to your audiences. People often assume that everyone else is an expert and that, without lots of formal training, they will never be able to get their heads around the digital skills that they need for their work. Sian Woodward says that these are valid feelings, but feelings that they are feelings which need to be lightly challenged.
Technology is just one aspect of digital skills, we also need to think about communication skills, leadership skills at all levels, problem solving skills. The list goes on. Digital should be used when it’s needed and when it’s most appropriate and we need to try and avoid the ‘light switch mentality’ of thinking about when we are and when we aren’t using digital. We also need to avoid the idea that there are people who ‘do digital’ and those that don’t. Digital skills application is about finding and using the right tools for the job – sometimes that’s digital, but it isn’t always.
Digital skills should be the golden thread that runs through a lot of what we do, that connect projects and programmes and even departments. Digital skills are a bit like an ice-berg. It’s easy to focus on the product or the experience that you’re creating, so much so that you can ignore the necessary skills and literacies that lay beneath. If you don’t get those skills right at the start of any project, it can become a pitfall at a later point.
Zoe Amar closed off her presentation with three useful tips for heritage leaders who are thinking about their own digital skills, and the digital skills of their teams.
Develop a digital vision: how do you develop your north star, a digital vision or mission that speaks and aligns to your organisational vision and mission.
Understand trends: how do trends in digital tools, platforms, technologies, culture, etc, effect your organisation? As a leader, you need to be aware of these trends, how they will impact your organisation and what you need to do about them.
Developing and embed digital strategies: what do you want to achieve as an organisation and how does digital help you achieve those goals? How can you embed a strategic direction for digital, within your organisation.
Digital skills are a core part of any digital project or product. You can’t have one without the other. This seminar showed digital skills in a variety of different contexts, from digital skills in action on the ground to the necessity of digital skills as a part of your organisation’s strategic direction, aims and mission. As a leader, it is important that you are aware of not only your own digital skills, but the digital skills of the people who work within your organisation as well. What skills do you need to be an effective leader? What skills do your staff need to do their work and help fulfil your organisation’s mission? These are big questions which can’t be answered overnight, but below we have shared a number of resources which can help get you started.
- Our ‘Developing digitally literate leadership in heritage organisations‘ Pathway resource
- Digital Pathways resource bank
- Heritage Digital Academy
- Interview by Brene Brown with Dr. Linda Hill about the qualities of a digitally mature organisation.
- British Library’s Digital Scholarship training programme
- Computing for Cultural Heritage Student Projects case study
- Digital Learning Network website
- British Library’s Graham Jevon digital transformations case study.
Reports and research
- The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Attitudes and Skills survey report
- Free recopilatory about ‘Digital Profiles and Skills in Museums today.
Digital leadership – Digital skills, literacy and capacity resource (2022) by Culture24 supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0
Please attribute as: "Digital leadership – Digital skills, literacy and capacity (2022) by Culture24 supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0