Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Digital Learning Network

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while but keep forgetting, but now that I'm on a roll with blogging I thought I'd get round to it - have you heard about the changes to what used to be the e-Learning Group for Museums, Libraries and Archives?

Well, the e-Learning Group has now changed its identity and become The Digital Learning Network (DLNet for short). You can read their announcement about the changes, but basically it seems the drive behind it is to continue to provide all the training and events that they used to provide, but to shift the focus back to just providing a network for people to talk about using technology in heritage learning.

I think it's a great idea! When I started my current job I became very aware that I was in quite an unusual role that doesn't exist in a lot of organisations. I was fresh from a year of being the Web Officer at The British Postal Museum & Archive and during that year I'd built up a great network of contacts to do with museums and the web which I'd found really useful.

Suddenly, faced with a job which also used some of the skills I'd previously developed to do with museum learning as well as my web skills and was subtlely different to my previous role, I found I suddenly felt quite isolated again as I felt my way around my new role. I had found my network of contacts and all their blogs etc really invaluable in helping me get a sense of what key issues and debates in the sector were and I really missed this in my new role.

Anyway, a few months into my job, I met with Wendy Earle at the BFI and discovered that her role is, in many ways similar to mine. It was great talking to her about my job and the challenges and opportunities it provided and we both agreed that we needed more opportunties to network in this way. We petitioned Martin Bazley, the chair of the e-Learning Group, to help us in this endeavour and he organised what is now considered to have been the first London ThinkDrink (a key aspect of this new DLNet - basically digital learning people, meeting in an informal setting - a pub in this case - to chat about their work). I discovered other people in similar roles to me and it was great to talk through ideas with them.

A few months after that, at Museums and the Web 2009, I met the lovely Claire Ross, then an e-Learning Project Manager at Geevor Tin Mine Museum in Cornwall and we discovered that we had loads in common - both of us had come to e-Learning through a non-technical route and were both finding our way and trying to establish ourselves in a museum/web world which often feels a bit daunting for us non-geeks/semi-geeks.

Claire is now on the committee of the Digital Learning Network (I nominated her so I'm quite proud!) and is one of the driving forces behind these current changes which they hope will help people like us find and meet up with others to share experiences and ideas with other people working in digital learning. Incidentally, Claire has also blogged about these recent changes.

If any of this rings true to you, if you work in a museum, library or archive in e-Learning/digital learning, I urge you to do one or all of the following:

One last thing to point out - I've put loads of references to DLNet in my AMA plan. A big part of the AMA is about networking and building a network of contacts. You're also supposed to demonstrate what you've learnt in a number of ways including sometimes giving presentations/papers etc. I plan to discuss things with members of the London Network group at ThinkDrinks and in blog posts either here or on the DLNet site. If you're doing an AMA and have any aspect of digital learning in your job role then please consider using the Digital Learning Network to help you!

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