Welcome to The Sustainability Sandbox blog series! The Alexandria Archive Institute and Open Context advocate for data sharing, data literacy, open access, and community collaborations. In this series, we share the story of our journey to identify and develop digital data management, public engagement, and data literacy projects with potential partner institutions.
This summer has provided a great opportunity to reflect on all the brainstorming we’ve been doing over at The Alexandria Archive Institute / Open Context (AAI/OC) and to gear up for all the exciting programming we’ve got prepared for the next few months.
As I mentioned in my last post, we’ve been engaging in important conversations with members of our Board of Directors and our Sustainability Advisory Board about the kinds of programs around data literacy that we want to develop with and offer to our partners. These programs fall into two main categories: professional development services and educational resources.
Through AAI/OC led professional development services, we aim to share data literacy tools and methods with participants so that they feel empowered to do data-driven work themselves and affect lasting change in their communities. These participants may be professional archaeologists, museum professionals, graduate students, teachers, or researchers in cultural heritage related disciplines.
In conversations over the last few months with a variety of professional stakeholders, one thing has stood out: data literacy requires an exceptionally high level of expertise. And, although that exceptionally high level of expertise is not needed frequently, when it is needed, it’s needed strongly. The individuals who develop this kind of knowledge at any particular institution are usually the ones transitioning through that institution: the postdocs, the contingent faculty, the grant-funded support staff.
For this reason, it is difficult for institutions to develop lasting and consistent training programs around data literacy. We at The AAI/OC are well-positioned to design that training program and offer that level of expertise to our partners. Presently, we’re collaborating with a number of institutions to develop pilot seminars that will enable us to build up such a curriculum over the next few months.
The AAI/OC educational resources may seem more familiar if you’ve been keeping up with the exciting updates from the Digital Data Stories (DDS) project. With our educational resources, we aim to create robust lessons for users, accompanied by teaching guides for integration in a wide range of educational environments. These users may be students in teacher-led classrooms, volunteers with public archaeology initiatives, readers of cultural-heritage related publications, or life-long learners working through tutorials independently. Our first DDS, Cow-culating Your Data With Spreadsheets and R, is undergoing evaluation before its formal release.
At the same time, we’re working with faculty members to make sure that this and other DDS will be included in their syllabuses this coming semester. These collaborations will enable us to see how our educational resources can impact curricula across a variety of disciplines and institutions. Such assessment is critical for the development of the DDS project so that it reflects user needs and for recruiting partners, who can see the concrete learning outcomes that our educational resources offer.
I’m excited to highlight some of the outcomes of these pilot seminars and collaborations over the coming months, so stay tuned! But, for now, back to the brainstorm…
We’re looking to build relationships with libraries, museums, educational organizations, and other cultural heritage groups. If you’d like to connect and discuss a potential collaboration, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!