Confronting the lack of emotional skills and values alignment in the creation of a Periodic Table of Digital Skills for museum practitioners

As formally announced last month in the Digital Commons Community, ‘One by One’ has entered a new phase we are referring to as, Project #3. This phase officially kicked-off February 1, 2021 and since then we have been behind-the-scenes preparing our research activities and coordinating with our named research partners.

‘One by One’ is a multi-partner international initiative, bringing together cultural organisations, policy makers, academics, professional bodies, support agencies, and communities of practice, to build digitally confident museums. ‘One by One’ helps museums of any size better define, improve, measure and embed the digital literacy of their staff and volunteers in all roles and at all levels.

While we have named research partners, there are aspects of our research where we want to include YOUR voice. This is why we have opened up the Digital Commons Community to include former ‘One by One’ research partners, students, and museum practitioners from across the globe. If you or a a colleague would be interested in our research and any of the planned activities over the next 16 months, please invite them to become part of the Digital Commons by sending them this link: https://bit.ly/DCinvitation. [Please note, you will need to register for this community to access the event registration links.]

Please allow me to formally introduce myself. Hi! My name is Lauren Vargas — you may know me or know of me through my involvement as a Digital Fellow / Research Associate in the ‘One by One’ Projects #1 and #2. I am also managing the Digital Commons Community, welcoming you into the Digital Commons Community, and posting regularly about ‘One by One’ events, related activities and resources.

Over the next 16 months, I will be facilitating a variety of research activities supporting one of three research tracks, answering the question: How can digital technology aid more empathy and equity in museums?

The primary output of this research track is the creation of the Periodic Table of Skills (PToS). This tool identifies the business, digital, and emotional skills essential for achieving digital maturity. The PToS may be used by individuals, teams, and organizations to assist in embedding digital literacy into all job roles and functions; the development of right-size job descriptions and professional development and performance plans; and the identification of employee / user experience design of internal intranets and communities of practice / interest.

Derived from previous research activities and academic and business literature reviews,I have compiled a list of over 300 elements or skills. On April 21st, April 28th, and May 11th, I am inviting you to join me to review these skills and discuss:

  • What elements or skills are missing?
  • How might we classify these skills as competencies, capabilities, or literacies?
  • How might we sort these elements into business, emotional, and digital skills clusters?
  • How might we align skills to values, so that we may begin to truly live into our individual and organizational values?

Please RSVP for one or all of these initial workshops so that we may include and consider the many perspectives, experiences, and wealth of expertise required to ensure the PToS will be useful and usable to any museum practitioner across any size / type museum.

Once the initial elements of the PToS have been established, we will spend the remainder of the year exploring the elements required to achieve specific capabilities. These deep dives will last approximately 12–14 weeks and these cycles are referred to as ‘epics’ by the research team. Some of the research activities in each epic will be open to participation from the greater Digital Commons Community and other activities will be limited to our named research partners.

The following research activities are planned as part of this research track:

  • [Public] ‘One by One’ Book Club: Each month, we have selected a non-fiction (business literature) book that aligns to the epic or subject of the PToS capabilities being explored [during that time period]. Each week, we will share related resources and unpack the themes of the monthly book selection within the Digital Commons. Then, at the end of the month, we invite you to take part in a discussion about the book. Please see ‘Events’ for a listing of all Book Club discussions planned for 2021.
  • [Public and Private] Capability Building Workshops and Literacy: The ‘One by One’ Book Club discussions may help us unlock elements we might add to the PToS and / or identify the elements necessary to achieve various capabilities and digital maturity. It is through additional workshops (one per epic cycle), we will ask you to join us in thinking through what skills are needed, why and when [do we apply these skills], to achieve meaningful change and impact. We are not creating a laundry list of skills. We aim to visualize and discuss how these skills may improve our hiring process as well as performance and development planning, so that we may embed digital literacy across the organization.
  • [Private] Literacy Exchanges: With our named research partners, we will coordinate a 4-week guided knowledge exchange between a senior leader and museum practitioner with expertise / experience of the capabilities being explored [during the epic time period]. This research activity will help us consider how we might develop exercises using the PToS to cultivate digital literacy and leaderful practices across all levels / roles of the organization.
  • [Public and Private] Individual / Focus Group Interviews and Surveys: At the conclusion of each epic cycle, we will ask a series of questions summarizing and testing what we have observed.
  • [Public] Resource Development: Similar to what we produced during the first ‘One by One’ project, we will develop a series of snackable tools and resources that may be used in tandem with the PToS. These tools and resources will not be one-size-fits-all; rather, we will produce materials specifically for the individual, team, and [small, medium, and large] organization.

The research activities are modular in design, meaning participants should not feel pressured to engage in each activity, but focus on engaging in those activities of interest and that best fit within their schedule.

I am using the Digital Commons (the ‘One by One’ online community space) to research-out-loud; meaning, I am introducing concepts in the Digital Commons and using events such as a monthly book club and open workshops to work through and test various ideas and approaches. This research track is not dependent upon case studies; rather, it is a blend of discourse analysis, action research, and grounded research.

What is the value in participating in these research activities?

  • Connect with museum practitioners from around the globe and exchange perspectives, knowledge, and practices;
  • Develop a deeper understanding of what is need to achieve and embed digital capabilities within your organization; and
  • Contribute to the design of the Periodic Table of Skills and related resources.

Are you interested in learning more about this track? Respond to this post with your questions and / or contact Lauren Vargas directly at: lv53@leicester.ac.uk.

#OnebyOne Digital Fellow: building digitally confident museums | Digital Dragon Slayer | Community Management Strategist | Independent Researcher and Consultant