New report published: MEDIEVAL ABBERLEY REVEALED

Researching and writing evaluation reports is fascinating and enjoyable part of my work.  It is a privilege to be able to follow project teams and volunteers as they deliver complex community activity and then to be able to reflect back to them the impact their work has had.

Excavating for Abberley Castle. An added bonus of evaluating the Medieval Abberley Revealed project!

Excavating for Abberley Castle. An added bonus of evaluating the Medieval Abberley Revealed project!

This week, I finished work on the evaluation report for MEDIEVAL ABBERLEY REVEALED, an HLF-funded Medieval Abberley Revealed community archaeology project which took place over 12 months, and built upon the enthusiasm for local history sparked by the popular Abberley Lives 20th century history project of 2012-2013.

Participation levels on this project were really high, with over 13% of the village either volunteering or attending an event.  The social and well-being outcomes were very strong – even long-time residents expressed how much they had enjoyed meeting new neighbours and volunteering with friends.

The activities seemed to generate a genuine sense of occasion, drawing volunteers aged from 9 to 90 years.  As a local resident and member of the AHPS said later:

‘We joined Abberley Hills Preservation Society but it went dormant for a while.  This activity has revived it all and we have met a lot of people we had never met before. It’s brought us together to fight against [the proposed] houses.  I would absolutely do it again.’

This was the first project evaluation where I was able to use multi-media sources to provide evidence of activity.  Several of the participants have very active social media feeds, so I was able to collate real-time responses during activity and save them using Storify.  I also trained project volunteers to be able to blog so that they could encourage each other to share their reflections online via the Abberley Lives website.

Furthermore, with the advice and assistance of Clear Picture Productions, I have also recorded and edited my first short films for the project website that capture the excitement and curiosity generated during live events.

Thanks very much to Abberley Hills Preservation Society for hiring me to do this lovely piece of work, and for giving me the chance to explore new means of gathering evidence.

Download the report: Medieval Abberley Revealed evaluation

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(Re)Drafting the elevator pitch

savoy liftThis morning, half way through a conversation with a print salesman about my order of training booklets, I was hit broadside by The Question.

‘So what do you do?’

Wah! Caught unawares, my careful ‘elevator pitch’, the succinct description of my key professional motivations, actions and finer features, completely deserted me.  I mumbled something about ‘engaging’, ‘increasing communication’ and generally sharing the cultural heritage joy.

Hmmm.

After a pause, the salesman said ‘well, I am sure that it very useful to people in your field’.  Ouch, damned, and not even with faint praise.

It made me reflect on how easily we forget how we sound to the people we work alongside but who don’t know us or what we do. And on how, if I really am working to help museums and heritage organisations to relate better to their audiences, I need to make sure that non-sector colleagues, friends and family understand that too.

My elevator pitch has the potential not only to get me work, but also to introduce the cultural organisations I work with to people who previously hadn’t heard of them.  After all, every conversation can be a doorway to another. But by being vague or unclear or by using too much jargon, what we say can slam that conversational door tight shut.

Later this afternoon, quite unprompted, a Facebook friend asked me the same question. So I decided to re-draft my elevator pitch…

There’s all sorts of advice about this online, some of it incomprehensible or frankly terrifying, but I like this one from BizGym, which helps you make it sound like a natural sentence rather than a ferocious tongue-twister.

ElevatorPitch

So, gentle reader, here goes:

Hi!  I’m Jenni Waugh, from Jenni Waugh Consulting.
My company helps museums to communicate better and to more people about the great stuff they do through digital and personal development activity that is affordable and tailored to suit their needs.

Better? I think so.

But not yet perfect.  As ever, I remain a work in progress…

How’s your elevator pitch coming along?

My new qualification: CIPD Level 3 Learning & Development

It’s finally arrived!  After 9 months of hard work last year and a lot of new experiences and ideas, I have just received news that I have attained Level 3 Accreditation in Learning & Development Practice from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.

The certificate arrived in the post last week and, as I don’t really have a public office wall upon which to hang my new certificate, I thought I would share the news with you via my blog.

My certificate!

My certificate!

The part-time course was offered by DPG and took place in Birmingham. Over the nine months we covered the following elements:

  • Developing coaching skills for the workplace
  • Delivering learning & development activities
  • Evaluating learning & development activities
  • Understanding organisations and the role of learning & development
  • Undertaking a Learning Needs Analysis
  • Preparing & designing learning & development activities
  • Recording, analysing and using learning & development information
  • Developing yourself as an effective learning & development practitioner

My associates in the class came from a fascinating range of business backgrounds – a kind of United Nations of the workforce. It is easy to forget how different working cultures can be.  Having worked for many years in the public and heritage sectors, I found it very refreshing and challenging to hear from colleagues in private industry, commerce and professional HR.

In particular, I found their arguments around evaluating value for money and calculating the return on investment of learning in the workplace to be both terrifying (who knew you could do that?!) and invigorating (you can do that! Excellent!).

DPG classmates learning the art of effective poster making during our Demo Sessions Day

DPG classmates learning the art of effective poster making during our Demo Sessions Day

We concluded the course in the ninth month by pairing up to present short L&D sessions to each other, to demonstrate what we had learned and to teach each other new ideas.  The climax of our work, these sessions were enormous fun and nerve-wracking at the same time.  I have never spent so long planning a 25 minute session!  On the day however, the delivery of the sessions was  warm and reassuring – we wanted each other to succeed and although we had all learned the same techniques, we played the game, opened our minds and learned a lot.

I know the experience has already improved my own practice.  In the middle of delivering 2 sessions on Community Archives Management, I learned new Brain-Friendly Learning techniques which made the second session much more interactive and engaging.  How do I know that?  I remembered to ask for evaluation feedback and used assessment and monitoring methods learned on the course.

I look forward to continuing to apply and develop what I have learned on the CIPD course and promise to post updates here.

 

 

Off to the Museums Association Conference 2013

liverpoolRather a last minute decision, but I am heading up to the MA conference on Monday night.  I do love the buzz of conference season, the feeling that change is so immediate that you can taste it in the air.  The last few years, I haven’t been able to head along because I have had other work on, but this year, I still have work on, but I thought ‘COME ON!!! Where’s your sense of adventure?’

I’ll be hanging out in the exhibition hall – always the best place to gather the gossip and find out how the inevitable to and fro of the sector is working this year.  Last time I was at the MA conference, in 2008, it was also in Liverpool, and it was not a good year – all the regional MLAs were being closed down and there was a tired and frantic feeling about the place.

This year, the cuts are still biting and I am almost afraid to ask old friends how their jobs are going, just in case they have.  Still, there is a definite lift to the mood.  Now that the Arts Council have stepped in as a lead organisation for funding the sector, there is a bit more hope about the place.  New museums trusts have been formed over the last 5 years, and the staff who remain are tougher and more resilient.  Fortunately, we have a long tradition of trying to get by on very little, which helps (not a lot, but it helps).

So, I am looking forward to meeting old colleagues, forming new relationships and generally sniffing the air.  Hope to see some of you there.