On 20th and 21st September the Glasgow SECC hosted the Scottish Learning Festival, one of the largest education events in Scotland. There were over 200 stall holders and 4500 delegates at this year’s conference, and the Through a Glass Darkly project team were amongst them! We hosted a stall in the new Heritage Village alongside other Scottish heritage organisations, including Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the National Trust for Scotland, The Palace of Holyroodhouse and Go Industrial Museum Collective. The Heritage Village was new for 2017 as this year is Scotland’s year of History, Heritage & Archaeology. Running concurrent to the exhibition hall and stalls were a range of lectures, discussion panels and workshops exploring a range of topics relating to education and learning in Scotland.
Our stall was positioned opposite Historic Environment Scotland in the Heritage Village, and over the two days members of the team presented the project, it’s results, and the potential uses of the Bridges Collection in teaching and learning to attendees. One focus of several sessions at the conference was the Scottish Digital Learning Strategy and how to implement this in learning, in schools and more broadly across Scotland. This focus of the conference offered a great context to discuss our 3D digital models of the collection available on Skethfab, and how they could be used to engage learners in archaeological material through technology.
As well as sparking fruitful discussions and ideas for development, the learning festival also offered the opportunity for us to hear about a range of projects and chat to other stallholders about the work they are undertaking in the digital sphere. Here are some of the highlights from our time at the conference:
Inspiring Young People into Digital Skills- Edinburgh College
As part of the Inspiring Young People into Digital Skills seminar, representatives from Edinburgh College explored the work they have been conducting with students and digital technology in the heritage setting. Students had been working on the Global Treasures App, which makes clue based trails for visitor attractions, locally and globally. Scottish examples of the App include trails at Edinburgh and Stirling Castle. When hearing about the app, the new developments in visitor experience at the Banqueting House, London, as part of the “Lost Palace” digital experience sprang to mind. In Edinburgh, students worked with Global Treasures Apps to develop a treasure hunt app for other HES properties. The college felt that this project helped to better equip their students for their working life the digital age.
Our Digital Journey- Inverbrothock Primary School
Another fascinating project was presented by Inverbrothock Primary School, Arbroath. As a school they have embraced the national Digital Learning Strategy and have focused on developing skills in coding. There are already a number of projects and national frameworks devoted to encouraging girls and young women into computer science and coding (see Girls Who Code, and Closing the Gender Gap Lesson Plans), but I was fascinated by how early the teachers at Inverbrothock had introduced computer coding to pupils (P2 onwards). They highlighted ways to introduce the topic, and activities for coding that can be completed without using a computer at all. This is known as “unplugged learning”. One activity they presented to the audience involved following instructions to draw a picture (see below). The activity emphasised the importance of having precise, clear and detailed instructions, especially when working with computers, as all the pictures the audience created were different. The teachers at Inverbrothock Primary School firmly believe that teaching computer science from a young age will equip them in future.
Using HES to Support Learning
A holistic approach to digital learning in a heritage context was presented by SCRAN staff during the Using HES to Support Learning workshop. The presentation explored a WW1 project run at Forthview Primary School. The students not only used the archive material for research, they took part in immersive heritage learning at Edinburgh Castle and developed their own short animation film using the archive material and their own drawings. What was most exciting about this project was the creative and multidisciplinary approach taken to the digital material. For example, links were made to literacy through reading Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo, as well as links to the Expressive Arts through the animation project. The digital material held on SCRAN was a springboard for activities across a range of curriculum areas. Find out more about the project here and see the video pupils at Forthview created here.
Connecting Scotland’s Sound
A project which offers a different approach to digital technology and heritage is Connecting Scotland’s Sounds. They are based at the National Library of Scotland and champion the preservation and sharing of Scotland Audio Heritage. The possibilities and importance of utilising of digital technology can certainly be felt, especially for a project which works solely with our intangible heritage. They aim to raise skills in sound archiving, including digitisation to ensure the longevity of collections, as well as raise awareness of audio collections and promoting engagement. To list to some of Scotland’s audio heritage, click here.
Go Industrial Museum Collective
As well as a hearing about a range of exciting projects, the Scottish Learning Festival also offered the opportunity to chat to a host of learning professionals who were promoting their learning programmes and resources on stalls within the heritage village. One which caught my eye was the Go Industrial Museum Collective. This group consists of museums preserving Scotland’s industrial heritage and includes museums such as Verdant Works, Scottish Maritime Museum and New Lanark (to name just a few). One member, the National Mining Museum, are integrating digital learning into their learning programme through STEM workshop “Crafting the Mine”, which uses digital learning to engage pupils with STEM. Within the game Minecraft, pupils can explore the Lady Victoria Colliery and compete against each other to collect the most coal. Watch a film exploring the Crafting the Mine project and creating the Minecraft environment here.
There were yet more stallholders and projects exploring the possibilities of digital technology in a heritage learning context, including HES exploring virtual reality and the National Trust for Scotland, who own the immersive game experience at the Battle of Bannockburn. The Scottish Learning Festival presented visitors with the range of digital heritage experiences, and made salient the variety of digital heritage projects being undertaken across Scotland’s heritage landscape.