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.
With the first day of classes upon us, I can’t be the only one breathing new life into my old syllabus. As an instructor, I try to create educational experiences for my students that are tailored and specific. At the same time, as someone who struggles to strike an appropriate work/life balance, I’m all about recycling old materials and adapting them to work in new contexts.
Building from my previous work each semester has saved me countless hours and immeasurable amounts of mental energy, energy that I can then spend on more important priorities, like engaging with my students.
How do these musings about the start of the school year relate to our sustainability initiatives at The Alexandria Archive Institute/Open Context (AAI/OC)? Through conversations over the last few months with a variety of professional stakeholders, we’ve been able to critically assess our community’s data literacy needs.
This assessment, in turn, has and continues to guide the creation of our educational resources and professional development services. As these programs grow, we’re engaging in two strategies to ensure that our work can be easily adapted for use in a range of settings, by a range of users, to achieve a range of learning outcomes.
Our first strategy has involved the internal development of resources that are then shared more broadly with our community and more deliberately with specific collaborating partners. This strategy will sound familiar if you’ve been following along with updates from the Digital Data Stories (DDS) project.
Now that the beta version of our first DDS is out in the world, we’re working closely with a few faculty members to make sure that this, and our next set of exercises, can find a home in their curricula this very semester. These faculty members represent a variety of institutions and disciplines. Ongoing discussions with them about how our data literacy tutorial templates can be tailored to fit the goals of their individual courses will surely inform our work moving forward.
Our second strategy has involved the identification of collaborating partners with and for whom we want to design customized resources. This strategy has informed the generation of the professional development services that we will soon be offering. And although customization might seem contrary to the idea of templates that are easy to recycle, we don’t want to be in a position where we’re constantly reinventing the wheel.
In the next few weeks, we’ll launch several pilot workshop series, designed in collaboration with institutional partners, which will enable us to strengthen our data literacy curriculum. Using these tailored resources as inspiration, we’ll then templatize our work, so to speak, so that it can be easily adapted for use in a range of contexts.
In the end, our sustainability efforts straddle the line between out-of-the-box solutions (i.e.: what we can easily produce) and completely customized programs (i.e.: what every stakeholder wants). Over the next few months, we’ll be highlighting just how some of our initial partnerships strike a balance between these two extremes. So, stay tuned!
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!