Web 2.0 in one museum (in-house training)

Apologies for the lack of content recently. I’ve been too busy at work. My exhibition finished and was pulled down and then I had to take up another part-time role as the chair of our new web strategy group. In the last few weeks we’ve explained the priority and scope of this new initiative to our Council (or board) and at an all-staff meeting. Since then I’ve been actively involved in setting up an internal forum (we are using Ning) and in training our staff on the use of some common web 2.0 applications.

I think we are blessed with pretty enlightened leadership at the Memorial, because we have embraced the potential of web 2.0 at a reasonably Early stage and we’ve been allowed a pretty free hand to experiment and innovate. Without this, I’m sure an initiative like this is doomed.

So, here is a bit of an outline of the early progress. We have started by getting some volunteers or nominees to join our online forum and set up some basic groups on it for special interests like our historians, education and two projects to progress our presence on Facebook’s ArtShare and the Flickr Commons. The Ning forum or network also has several blog posts running to some pretty inspiring online presentations by people such as Clay Shirky and Mark Pesce.

The idea is to get each of our internal “communities” to bring forward their own suggestions and initiatives, rather than generating them centrally. First, we need our staff to become familiar with what is out there. What we needed to do was gather a small group around a set of terminals and set them up with the relevant accounts.

Firstly, we arranged access to the Firefox browser and Facebook from their work account. Some of the tools we want you to start playing with don’t work very well in IE7.

We started by setting them up with some useful tools in iGoogle. So, they were asked to go Google and register to set up an account. We then asked them to play with their iGoogle page, setting up some useful “widgets” that appear every time you login.

Next was Google Reader (because that is the feed reader I use!). It provides an easy way to automatically subscribe to blogs and other website that are updated regularly, like newspapers. Blogs of interest can be found on Google Blog Search. Most of our staff are already pretty familiar with blogs as we were one of the earlier museum bloggers.

After that we moved to set up a social bookmark account on del.icio.us. We networked the participants with a set of bookmarks that I use and briefly covered how to make the best use of it. I think we can really do some very useful things with del.icio.us to gather together useful and little know areas of our huge website for certain interest groups. (More on this idea in a later post.)

After that we quickly covered SlideShare, a rich source of shared presentations from various sources on virtually all subjects. It is very easy to set up an account, search for and then save your faves.

Finally, we set everyone up with a Facebook account and asked them to add a couple of friends.

The training session took 90 minutes. In our next phase we will tackle more tools like LinkedIN, You Tube and wikis. I think I’ll also add in OpenID because we are setting up so many different accounts.

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