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2010 Horizon Report Museum Edition: Commentary on significant challenges

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Lifelong Learning, Date: 25 Sep 2010

This is the second of three posts about the 2010 Horizon Report: Museum Edition which considers technology use in museum settings. This post provides commentary on the six significant challenges identified in the report.

2010 Horizon Report Museum Edition: Significant Challenges

“Far too few museums are crafting and following a comprehensive strategy to ensure that they can keep pace with even the most proven technologies.” (page 5) We had a discussion about social media strategies/policies on Museum 3 some time ago and there’s some useful resources there. I agree with the thrust of this argument that it needs to be a holistic plan and I believe it needs to embraces the entire ways the museum communicates, not just digital (and thanks to our Marketing Manager Charlotte, for planting that seed in my mind).

“Funding for technology projects is too often done outside operational budgets. … Any museum that is not making reasoned continual investment in its technological future is putting the museum’s ability to engage with ever more networked audiences at significant risk.” (page 5) No more to say here as this says it all.

“The relationships and synergies among technology use by a museum and its staff, the ways people and organizations use technology outside the museum, and the resources a museum has chosen to place online are not well understood.” (page 5) Don’t necessarily agree. Certainly, at the Australian Museum we’ve made a conscious effort to embrace and learn about these things together as a staff and with our audiences (there’s some information and links about our adventures here). I think it has paid off that we’re more aware about how to utilise this stuff (and, more importantly, when not to). I guess the issue for us, and many museums, is the point identified several times throughout the report – how to allocate resource in increasingly tight budget situations? The time has come to probably stop doing something, but what?

“Documentation of the impact of programs delivered via digital technologies is often expected as a prerequisite for adoption or even pilot efforts, creating a “chicken versus egg” conundrum.” (page 5) Umm, yes, that’s what blogging is about as well as sharing quick findings on sites such as Museum 3 on Facebook, using Twitter to share and joining in networks such as Museum 3 (sorry for yet another shameless plug!). Experiment, learn and share using the principle of repurposing content to make all our lives easier!

“Advances in workflow and content production techniques in business and industry are largely absent from similar forms of content creation in museums.” (page 5) Couldn’t agree more. Museums in general are stuck in traditional ways of doing things with traditional, inflexible structures and rigid staff roles. I do see a shift but I believe it needs to be radically shaken. I’d be keen to hear what institutions across our sector are leading the way on this (i.e. have actually done something about their structures)??

“At a time when their role is more important than ever, too many museum educators lack the training, resources or support to address the technological opportunities and challenges they face.” (page 5) Sorry, but surely it’s their role to make sure they’re up-to-date with this stuff! We need to take responsibility of our own professional development. I know many educators (and indeed our wonderful Visitor Programs and Services team here) that are trying their best to incorporate this into their practices and giving it a go. My advice? Just get in there amongst it! We had a workshop some time ago when we looked at how we might be able to incorporate this stuff easily and there are some useful tips on the post called How do I incorporate the web into my daily work practices?.

 

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