I'm just wrapping up some research for a museum. They asked me to collate case studies of good and innovative practice in how comparable venues (which in this case include medium-large scale museums and galleries) use digital technology to support school visits, in workshops, self-directed studies and potentially back in school.
They also wanted to find out about the ways such activity can be evaluated. They absolutely do not want to have form after form handed to teachers and students, and wondered how else really good evaluation might take place.
The brief contains phrases like blended learning and e-learning. It's problematic because there are no clear definitions of what those are and where they start and end, And it's a real rabbit hole - an entire and massive area of specialisation and expertise.
It's a small piece of work, just skimming the surface to help the museum think in new and different ways about what they might do, and how to monitor its impact well.
I've collated 64 pages, over 32,000 words, of case studies of applications, programmes, projects, reviews and industry expertise opinions on contextual issues such as evaluation, future proofing and general good practice in digital learning and engagement. I've visited more websites, read more conference papers, searched more forums than I can count and interviewed some really insightful and inspiring colleagues in the field.
Eventually, if the museum in question has no objections, I'll upload the collated set of case studies and expertise here for anyone else who might like it. It will be in a very rough and ready format - just my research notes really, in no particular order. But it may be of some help to someone so watch this space...
In the meantime, it seemed much easier to put all 32k+ words into wordle and see what happened. There it is above, that's what the whole shebang amounts to. Interesting at this stage that 'online' is so prominent, given that I wasn't specifically looking at just online options. Interesting too that if 'conversation', 'collaboration' or 'participation' are in there, they certainly don't jump out.
Teachers in Merseyside and Pennine (East) Lancs applying for Artsmark or Artsmark Gold are now able to book on to training sessions in their area.
Teachers from other areas are also welcome (though may find training closer to home via the Artsmark website).
Merseyside Training: Monday 17th October.
Pennine Lancs Training: Tuesday 1st November.
Read more here or go straight to online booking via the links below.
Merseyside training: book here
Pennine Lancashire training: book here
This year I'll be working as a trainer for schools in the North West applying to the new Artsmark scheme. Arts Council England have selected and trained a group of arts education specialists across the country to offer training to teachers, to help them with applications for the revised Artsmark scheme.
This training is authorised and endorsed by them, and is relevant to primary and secondary schools applying at Artsmark or Artsmark gold level* including all schools regardless of whether or not they have applied for or received the award before.
(*Artsmark Silver does not exist within the new scheme).
Save the date:
Merseyside: Monday 17th October at the Bluecoat Centre, Liverpool
Pennine Lancs: Tuesday 1st November at Burnley Youth Theatre, Lancs
NB This will be the only Arts Council England authorised Artsmark training in these areas.
Booking details will be announced shortly but do save the date now. Please contact me if you wish to reserve your place so you can begin arranging cover. Training will be at a fee of £80 / teacher for a full day including lunch, introduction to the arts education work of the host venue, and individually tailored support for your application. Full terms and conditions will be available online soon.
Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Find out more about Artsmark here.
(To contact the Artsmark team, please find the appropriate contact details within the application documents.)
I was asked to chair a panel at this year's Future Everything conference.
The theme of the session, provided by the conference programmer, was 'Post Craft'.
Three makers and designers of very different sorts were hunted down by the programmer and lined up as the panel.
I've never chaired a panel before but this year I'm saying yes to new things, to push my comfort zone a little. It's fair to say I was more than a little nervous, which I countered by going into hyper-organised mode. It seemed to work, once we took to the platform the nerves disappeared and the session flowed.
I felt it important to start by asking if there was such a thing as Post Craft because if there is, I had no idea what it is. (If you're wondering, we all seemed to agree there probably isn't such a thing).
The event was attended by a very digi-savvy crowd so I looked up the tweets about it afterwards to try and see if there was any feedback about how people thought it had gone. Luckily the responses was positive.
To try and capture some of the conversation I set up a little mini-site pulling together the panel, the questions asked, and the responses on twitter. You can find it all here.
One Small Step for Early Years, One Giant Leap for Children: a toolkit for creativity with young childrenRead Now
This time last year I was lucky enough to work with Isaacs UK and CAPE UK, exploring the work of artists and creative practitioners working with children and staff in ten early years settings across Leeds. They settings worked together as network, using Creative Partnerships' enquiry model of working to test out their activities.
My role was to pull together everyone's learning, summarising shared findings and exceptional experiences, laying these out in a way which might be helpful for others looking for new and / or creative ways to unlock potential in their children. To round up a few of the ups and downs, things that worked, things that didn't work quite so much, and some of the thinking the creative and early years practitioners travelled through together or separately. At the heart of it all, to tell some of the stories of the children and how their outlook on the world changed a little as a result of the projects. On a more formal side, we looked at a couple of different ways of monitoring the progress of children - both in terms of the Foundation Stage areas, and in their wellbeing and involvement through a system known as EXE (Experiential Education).
CAPE set some fantastic designers loose on the content I wrote with IsaacsUK, and the result is a really stunning and accessible looking publication. Please read, browse, enjoy and most importantly - pass it on to anyone who might make use of it.
Browse or download it below, or online *here*
Way back in 2006 I received a grant from Arts Council England to research the DIY / subversive / home grown - whatever you want to call it - craft scene in the UK. The likes of what is now much more widely known; Etsy, Stitch and Bitch, yarnbombing (knitting attached to things in public as you may know it - lamposts, bike rails, bannisters etc).It was all going on in the US, but I wondered to what extent that was happening here too - if at all...
In 2006 there really wasn't that much of this around. To set the scene, less than 300 UK people were registered on Etsy and people were still finding one another through MySpace. Which is where my research started.
This week I'll be at a two day workshop exploring what craft and communities have in common, and what potential there is for craft and community being in the same mix. Much of the topics under the microscope will be the exact same ones that arose in my research. Eventually there will be a website where the Connecting Craft & The Community project will be shared more widely. But for the benefit of colleagues I'll be meeting in the next couple of days, and anyone else who is interested, here is the report produced in 2007, which summarised the work, and laid out some options to take the themes on into a programme of exhibitions, projects and events (which I'm happy to say did indeed happen.)
So here's the report.
To give you a flavour the contents page reads as follows... Defining DIY :: A Potted History :: Textiles :: Gender Stories :: Inclusivity & Anti-elitism :: Anti-consumerism & The Individual :: Political Crafting :: Interdisciplinary Content :: Street Crafting :: Sharing, Authorship and Currency :: Art & Anti-Art :: Entrepreneurialism :: Quality :: Exhibition & Project Potential :: Options and Recommendations
Read or download as a pdf it below; or from google docs here; or contact me and I'll email it to you...
I spent a huge amount of last year working with some amazing academic staff, researchers and community groups as they learned more about one another through creative projects as part of the Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement. My role was (and still is) to help what's happening at practice level link with a rather complex overarching evaluation framework.
The Manchester Beacon programme is, in a nutshell, about encouraging learning institutions to better understand how to open themselves up to communities more effectively. An important part of that process is to trial new approaches and reflect on what works, or what could be improved. It's an action learning model really.
The Beacon team and I identified that those involved in the practice needed support in being able to report back on their work in ways that fit the evaluation framework. So we set about producing some guidance for them, based on the input of community groups and a pilot cohort of academics and researchers.
Fast forward many months and the evaluation guidance pack / toolkit I created with their help, and the help of other colleagues, is now freely available. It contains some basic principles of evaluation, hints and tips, templates, and examples of creative consultation.
You can read or download it below; contact me for a copy; or read / download it here.
On this page, you can also find some very short podcasts and top tips from some of the staff and community groups who have used the document. At the end of the pack there are also lots more links to further evaluation guidance in public engagement and also support created specifically for the fields of science communication; community engagement; arts and heritage; and health and wellbeing.
All thoughts or comments welcome...
I currently have a number of clients who, in some shape or form, are involved in being part of museums who are trying to become better friends with their communities. In order to be able to assist them in this as well as I can, and refresh my own thinking on the topic, I assembled a quick list of everything I ever knew about this sort of work - what to look out for, what to do, what not to do.
I then sent a call out to all the lovely and helpful members of the GEM email list to see what insights they had on the same theme.
Three months later I've finally collated it all under sub-headings and here it is; a short paper on things to be aware of if you're a museum working with local communities. In fact I'm sure much of it will be transferable to other types of organisations.
I would especially like to thank everyone who did respond to the GEM email request, and sent me all sorts of papers, reports, observations, anecdotes and ponderings, particularly those who trusted me enough with what, in some cases, were quite hard lessons for their organisations to learn.
I'd very much like the discussion to keep flowing so please do add comments, or include links to other relevant papers, reports etc below...
04.03.11 update... for the few people who let me know they haven't been able to see or save the document below - it's now also available as a straight forward pdf to read or download here or drop me a line via the comments pageand I'll happily email it to you
I have an ongoing obsession with pattern.
In the summer I was lucky enough to turn that obsession into a small project by co-ordinating some workshops for people in Macclesfield.
(You can read more about that by looking at Macclesfield Silk Museum Heritage Trust here)
In the morning, members of the public were taken on a tour of the town, looking at pattern in architecture.
Armed with cameras and a professional photographer guide, we encouraged them to seek out the details that usually pass them by.
In the afternoon, I brought in artists / designers / printers from one69a to help them turn their photos into screen prints and transfer them onto bags and t-shirts.
one69a have just launched their new website and included the workshops as one of their case studies so take a fuller look over there...
And by the way - if you like architectural pattern, do take a look at the project with Rosie James at Ordsall Hall in Salford
As part of some research I'm doing for Earlyarts I came across this wonderful video which so beautifully and simply portrays everything that's good about children (and possibly everything that's missing with some types of education). For more inspiring input of this type, do come to or follow the Earlyarts international UnConference in November...
I'm most interested in how the public, your public, whoever that may be, engages with culture and creativity.
And if it nurtures creativity and develops personal, social or professional skills I'm absolutely all ears.