The Digital Learning Network has arrived!

In 2007 I found myself so far out of my comfort zone, in Cornwall, by myself, in a tin mine museum, with a lap top and wonky internet connection and a project plan entitled ‘e-learning’. I didn’t know where to start, and I didn’t know who to talk to, and at times I felt very isolated and out of my depth. I had no option other then to jump in head first, and it was brilliant, it was hard work, and very difficult at times, but some wonderful people helped me along the way, and I am very grateful for that. I had a head full of ideas, and I was very excited about the task and it was fantastic to talk to people who had been in the same situation as me, had similar ideas, and most importantly loved everything about museums and digital learning.

Fast forward a couple of years, I have a successful digital learning project under my belt, I’m now a researcher in Digital humanities, and loving every minute of it. I am also on the committee for the Elearning Group for Museums, Libraries and Archives (ELG). And its fantastic.

Last month I wrote a post about reigniting my passion for digital learning! This was mostly down to an ELG committee meeting .What made it brilliant? Being able to bounce ideas around and talking to other people who just get it. Who are just as passionate about digital learning and what it has to offer.

So what were we talking about that got us so excited? Well…

The ELG has become the Digital Learning Network

DLnet for short

The idea is to go back to basics and get people talking about technology and learning in museums, archives and libraries. There are so many people whose job involves some kind of educational/digital role, but who don’t have a network and really depend on colleagues and informal relationships to share information about new developments. We want to be able to help, people like me in 2007 to Find people, build networks, share ideas and basically just talk about digital learning, why its great, what you are working on, what do you want to know about other projects, how can you over come some problems with digital learning in your area. So, If you want to find people working in digital learning in your local area, build networks, and exchange ideas, DLNet can help.

We’re getting conversations going about using digital technology to support learning:

  • online – through the website or Twitter
  • face to face – all over the country, in networked groups

Here’s what you can do:

  • get a few people together for a ThinkDrink – at the pub, out for tea, at the zoo – wherever you like
  • let us know what you talked about – Tweet it, post pictures on Flickr, write a blog post, or post a short video on YouTube (tag it with #DLNet and we’ll find it)
  • form your own Digital Learning Network group

So: we are changing our name from the E-Learning Group to the Digital Learning Network – DLnet for short – and putting more effort into getting people talking and sharing ideas, as well as doing all the stuff we used to do.

And don’t worry, we are still:

  • exploring how technology can help deliver inspiring and creative learning in museums, libraries, archives and the heritage sector
  • running our highly popular events such as conferences and seminars
  • hosting the email list, which will soon become (instead of )

Have a look around the Digital Learning Network website and let us know what you think. I hope you find it as helpful and exciting as I did and still do!

Relight my fire…digital learning you are my only desire

Earlier in the week I tweeted “Today has reignited my passion for digital learning! Long may it continue.”

In fact it was two brilliant days filled full of digital activities, and more importantly talking to other people who just get it. who are just as passionate about digital learning and what it has to offer.

On Tuesday my colleague Anne (check out Anne’s blog here) and I hopped on a train and went to deep snow entrenched Reading to conduct the first of the interviews for the Linksphere Project.  We held a brilliant interview with the curator of Ure Museum of Classical Archaeology, one of the participants in Linksphere, and it was fantastic to discover her passion for open access to museums, and how digital access plays an active role! The Ure museum, has a small physical space, so since 2002 they have digitised and uploaded the collection online.

Then off I popped to the ELG committee meeting, where we had some very interesting talks… more news on that forthwith, but it is very exciting! I cant wait for us to take it forward, and turn our excitement in to something substantial.

On Wednesday, was a meeting, again as part of the Linksphere project, with the British Museum.  We hope to do some collaborative research with them on some juicy things (a great meeting, with exciting possibilities and very interesting people).   Coming from a museum digital background, I found it quite hard to start with getting into the research mind set, particularly academia’s understanding of users and usability. My bosses/mentors/guru’s I don’t exactly know what I call them, but they are brilliant at usability and user studies (as well as digital humanities and electronic publishing to name a few), so it was great to sit around a table with museum webby people who are focused on users, and research webby people who are also focused on users and watch the sparks ignite!

All in all a very exciting couple of days.

But it got me thinking about digital learning, elearning, computer mediated learning, what ever you want to call it. My professional field and my research field is new to some, and not to others, but it is seen in some eyes as a marginalised field, particularly with a museum slant.  I don’t make it easy for myself do I? But I do like a good challenge.  What happens to people who don’t have the support network that I have in my research?  From my previous elearning project manager job, although I had a great team around me, and I was pretty much given free reign to do whatever i liked! (which was fab, and I got to play with all sorts of social media and set up lots of exciting stuff), but I did feel isolated at times, when people didn’t really know what I was talking about.

What is good that things are beginning to change. People are beginning to sit up and take notice.  Twitter is all over the news, celebrities doing this that and the other, facebook causing a stink with its privacy issues, even Barbie is getting in on the act – Barbie is thinking of taking a new career direction, and computer engineer is on the list, if only museum digital team member was on the list, now that really would be something. Times are certainly changing, and its really exhilarating that people are beginning to get excited about what I do!  About flipping time.