Friday, 14 October 2011

Twelve things I took away from the Culture24 Let's Get Real conference

On 21 September I attended Culture24's Let's Get Real conference in Bristol. This is quite a long time ago now and I should have blogged about it before but maybe the time lapse can help me be a bit more succinct about what I took away rather than providing a blow-by-blow account of the day.

Here are 10 things I took away from the conference:
  1. Tom Uglow, Creative Lead in the Google Creative lab did a really inspiring keynote. Without consulting my notes, the thing that's stuck in my head is his very gratifying and inspiring suggestion that the people in the room that day would be the pioneers of taking museums forward into the future.
  2. There's so much more that you can do with Google Analytics than most of us are probably currently doing - I knew this before, but wanted to be told what these things were - and to a large extent the conference didn't disappoint! Examples that have stuck in my mind include: using segments to look at where your audience is coming from geographically and filtering out visits from within your own organisation.
  3. In the 'failing forward' section, Matthew Cock from the British Museum did a very quick but useful talk about how they'd refreshed their website and the tools he used to make the process easier e.g. having evidence-based discussions with stakeholders using heat maps and Analytics data often taking the sting out of certain decisions. James Morley from Kew also talked about some of the stuff they did on a similar project including optimising their 404 page with a set of quicklinks for likely content the user was looking for and a sponsorship banner.
  4. There's going to be a second round of the Action Research Project led by Culture24 that this conference came out of. Information will be made available on this soon. The first round sounds like it was a very useful experience for all involved and you can read about what it found out and how people found the project in the very interesting report.
  5. The report has also produced a couple of toolkits which I've looked at since I've returned to work and found very useful.  One is a Google Analytics healthchecklist, another to do with measuring social media impact and another to do with comparing social media tools
  6. The action research report also questions that long-held belief that the web helps museums reach new audiences as Hitwise data suggests that the audiences using are website are very similar to those visiting our sites.
  7. I talked to Danny and Martha from the Wellcome Trust about their very cool game High Tea which accompanied the High Society exhibition last year.  I played the game when I got back - it's VERY cool, but I also read the really very interesting report about the game.  Key thing that stuck with me here - how they targetted the gaming community with great success. 
  8. Jane Finnis (and I think others) talked about not having a digital strategy, but having a digital strand of an overarching strategy.
  9. The action research report shows that search engines and mobile visits are the fastest growing segments, and found no real evidence that social media drives traffic to sites.
  10. Someone highlighted some interesting research by Jim Richardson at MuseumNext about how people use museums on Facebook and Twitter.
  11. Couple of useful tools: XSort for analysing card sorting (although seems to be only for Mac?) and Reinvigorate for heat map tracking.
  12. Bristol is actually a rather nice place - who knew?

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What is online learning in museums?

I've been reflecting quite a lot recently on what online learning means in a museum context. 

Is it just for schools?

Or just for schools and children outside schools?

Or for schools, children and adults taking part in a formal course?

Or is it for everyone? 

What constitutes learning in an online context?

Is it learning that takes place when you're looking at something online?

Or is it the delivery online of tools that help you learn on- and offline?

And where do you see responsibility for online learning as sitting within a museum?

I obviously have views of my own on all these things, and I may blog about them at some point, but I'm interested to hear what other people think and what museum online learning is seen as being. 

Please leave your comments here if you have a view on this! I'd be really interested to hear people's thoughts. And please feel free to raise further questions too if you have any!

Thanks all!