Lessons from a collaboration


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Presented at Museums Australia Conference, Melbourne 2010

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  • I work in the online area at NFSA. I’m neither a technical or education expert – I’m a content producer slash manager. I have to apologise for the title of this session because I really have more questions than answers. So no lessons, but some interesting questions.
  • Last year The Learning Federation went to Canberra and proposed a collaboration with the national collecting institutions to provide digitised objects from our collections that would support teaching specific areas in the new national curriculum. Not everyone ended up working with the TLF that year.
  • The web managers, developers and educators that were dealing with the Learning Federation met a few times and formed a group on the Museums 3.0 network.
  • It was the first time many of us had met as a group of online content providers. This alone was pretty useful. Each organization seemed to have different strengths and teams with different skills, so one aim was to share knowledge, resources and expertise – there were great education people at the museum, metadata people at the library, and we had an up and running workflow to digitise and publish video but no education experts.
  • We also wanted to offer our collections online in a way that is connected logically for audiences – any audience, not just education. For example, what do our collections offer on the theme of immigration, and are these resources/records discoverable in a way that connects them? There was a flurry of collaboration over email, google docs, face to face and discussions on the Museums 3.0 Ning network, We set up working groups – one for data and digitising, one for content. So what happened to the collection material we all found for the TLF project? Is it published? Discoverable? Connected?
  • Taking a search for John Curtin education resources’ as an example, here’s how it might look an if you start with Google – I know its shocking given all the special delivery and hosting mechanisms we build for teachers resources but we know they use Google. And this is also about how our related online offerings are experienced by a general user.
  • This was the most predominant search result so you might find yourself here. Nothing to do with us.
  • So there are some pdf fact sheets, web pages, some video clips. Not that easy to find and certainly not connected to each other. But to see what we offer as a collective there is no grouping or connections
  • So I think you can say that we’re not there yet. Why not? Collaboration is hard. It’s seen as good, desirable, productive, esp in public sector and often accompanied by other popular words like sharing, resource sharing, innovation
  • It’s highly valued and much talked about
  • low cost and rapid or real time sharing of ideas, knowledge, and skills has made collaborative work easier. Internet allows groups to easily form
  • Collaboration – requires leadership – we weren’t CEOs - just a bunch of web and education people whose bosses weren’t asking us to collaborate in this way.
  • Collaboration needs resources – the organisation with the bag of money for this particular project was able to achieve its goals without us being genuinely collaborative amongst ourselves – it might have benefitted them if we had, might have made us easier to work with – but they managed to get their project over the line without it. There’s no argument that there is a lot that cultural institutions could and should be doing for all kinds of learning and education, but how much are they actually resourced to do?
  • There’s not much money not going directly to cultural orgs. The Digital Deluge bid to digitise the national collections didn’t get up but the Australian Government has committed $2.2 billion to the Digital Education Revolution (DER).
  • So nothing directly to the cultural organisations, unless you can manage to broker a political marriage between your ministers for culture and education like FUSE which….
  • seems to have produced some fantastic projects here in Victoria.
  • Overseas the funds are also in education. Obama fund. JISC fund in the UK.
  • And since early last year, the metadata action has really picked up speed. Do we really need to collaborate or can our metadata do it for us?
  • If you looked for John Curtin in Scootle you’d get 98 results including presumably all the resources provided by the national collecting institutions.
  • And in Trove – a selective ‘John Curtin’search for items available online – produces thousands of records, ironically the top one being John Curtin: Á Guide to archives of Australia’s prime ministers Trove launched early this year and has over 90 million records aggregated from Australian libraries museums, archives and galleries.
  • And here’s some proof that Trove offers tools that are useful for teaching and learning
  • And then there is the Australian Data Network Services projects. So can our data collaborate for us or do we still have to sit around a table and talk?
  • Over the past few days talking to people it seems like we need to do both. we do need to get together and work out data standards and make a description of our collections as easily accessible as metadata as possible. This will enable aggregation and application of the information in ways we don’t even need to think of. But it also seems that individual cultural organisations have stories to tell about their collections that are unique and finite and not at all flexible but rich and engaging as all good stories are. We want both and we want the resources to do it! Thank you to Sarah Rhodes for her input to this presentation
  • Lessons from a collaboration

    1. 1. Lessons from a collaboration Kate Stone Online Manager, National Film & Sound Archive @kate__stone @NFSAOnline
    2. 2. <ul><li>National Archives of Australia </li></ul><ul><li>National Library of Australia </li></ul><ul><li>National Film & Sound Archive, Australia </li></ul><ul><li>National Gallery of Australia </li></ul><ul><li>National Museum of Australia </li></ul><ul><li>National Maritime Museum of Australia </li></ul><ul><li>National Portrait Gallery </li></ul><ul><li>Australian War Memorial </li></ul><ul><li>Museum Of Democracy </li></ul>
    3. 14. Collaboration is desirable <ul><li>It’s a good look </li></ul><ul><li>Often paired with other desirable values: </li></ul><ul><li>Innovative collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Creative collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>And has some nice related words: </li></ul><ul><li>collegiality, fellowship, partnership; community, reciprocity, symbiosis; synergy; communion, cooperativeness, kinship, oneness, solidarity, togetherness, unity </li></ul>
    4. 15. It’s highly valued & much talked about
    5. 16. Technical/web tools make it easy <ul><li>low cost and rapid or real time sharing of ideas, knowledge, and skills has made collaborative work easier. </li></ul><ul><li>Internet allows groups to easily form </li></ul>
    6. 17. Collaboration <ul><li>Easy to say, harder to do </li></ul><ul><li>Requires leadership </li></ul><ul><li>& </li></ul><ul><li>resources </li></ul>
    7. 18. Resources <ul><li>Are education programs the poor cousin in cultural orgs? </li></ul><ul><li>TLF had the money for this particular project and didn’t need us to collaborate independently of them </li></ul><ul><li>How well resourced is digital publication of cultural resources? </li></ul>
    8. 24. Can our data collaborate for us? <ul><li>Scootle </li></ul><ul><li>Trove </li></ul><ul><li>ANDS </li></ul>
    9. 29. Data v stories <ul><li>“ The two cultures of the contemporary world are the culture of data and the culture of narrative.” </li></ul><ul><li>– William Germano </li></ul><ul><li>http://chronicle.com/article/What-Are-Books-Good-For-/124563/ </li></ul>
    10. 30. <ul><li>Thanks to Sarah Rhodes for her help with this presentation. </li></ul>