September 28, 2018, by jicke

New workshops aim to give regional heritage organisations the tools to build a better digital future

Cultural and heritage organisations from across the region have taken part in the first ‘Citizen Scholarship’ workshop run by the University of Nottingham, which aims to provide them with the digital tools they need to improve engagement with their audiences.

This new initiative, funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, is led by Dr Jo Robinson in theSchool of English, working with Dr Alan Chamberlain of the Mixed Reality Lab, in the School of Computer Science. Supported by Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, it aims to give cultural and heritage organisations in Nottingham and beyond a structured series of practical workshops to explore and trial the use of free and easily accessible digital tools to enhance engagement with heritage and history.

The first event took place at the University of Nottingham and a variety of organisations took part including; the National Trust, Nottingham Women’s Centre Library, Erewash Museum, the Sir John Moore Foundation and Nottingham’s Theatre Royal. Attendees said the workshop was ‘thought provoking’ and ‘inspirational’. They explored different ways that technology might support volunteers to engage citizen scholarship, different approaches to engagement and were encouraged to think about the strengths and assets of their organisations, as well as coming up with an initial project idea that they then presented back to the group.


More interaction leads to more action

Recent research into enhancing cultural value suggests that well-chosen and deployed digital tools automatically invite a more interactive, and consequently active, engagement with heritage culture, particularly when co-curation and co-creation of community heritage is enabled via digital means. But we know that small and medium-sized cultural and heritage organisations – often powered by volunteer time and energy – can struggle to get to grips with the digital tools and environments which make such engagement possible.

Dr Chamberlain, a Senior Researcher on the project, from the School of Computer Science said, “It was a really inspiring day! Digital innovation isn’t just something that just happens in research labs, but it’s about interdisciplinary research, an area which the University of Nottingham is recognised for globally. By bringing the Humanities and Sciences together with heritage organisations we can appreciate the skills and understandings that volunteers can bring to organisations such as the Nottingham Theatre Royal, National Trust and Nottingham Women’s Centre Library, and the way that volunteers can engage in research as Citizen Scholars.

More information about the project and future workshops can be found here:

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