24 March 2020
Learning in Lockdown: Digital Research Team online
With British Library public spaces now closed, the Digital Research Team are focussing our energies on transforming our internal staff Digital Scholarship Training Programme into an online resource for colleagues working from home. Using a mixture of tools at our disposal (Zoom conferencing and our dedicated course Slack channels for text-based chat) we are experimenting with delivering some of our staff workshops such as the Library Carpentries and Open Refine with Owen Stephens online, as well as our reading group and staff lectures. Last week our colleague in Research Services, Jez Cope trialed the delivery of a Library Carpentry workshop on Tidy Data at the last minute to a virtual room of 12 colleagues. For some it was the first time ever working from home or using remote conferencing tools so the digital skills learning is happening on many levels which for us is incredibly exciting! We’ll share more in depth results of these experiments with you via this blog and in time, as we gain more experience in this area, we may well be able to offer some sessions to the public!
Homeschooling for the Digital Research Team
And just like parents around the world creating hopeful, colourful schedules for maintaining children’s daily learning (full disclosure: I’m one of ‘em!), so too are we planning to keep up with our schooling whilst stuck home. Below are just a handful of some of the online training and resources we in the Digital Research Team are keeping up with over the coming months. We’ll add to this as we go along and would of course welcome in the comments any other suggestions from our librarian and digital scholarship networks!
- Archivist’s at Home and Free Webinars and Trainings for Academic Library Workers (COVID-19) We’re keeping an eye on these two particularly useful resources for archivists and academic librarians looking for continuing education opportunities while working from home.
- Digital Skills for the Workplace These (free!) online courses were created by Institute of Coding (who funded our Computing for Cultural Heritage course) to try to address the digital skills gap in a meaningful way and go much further than your classic “Beginner Excel” courses. Created through a partnership with different industries they aim to reflect practical baseline skills that employers need.
- Elements of AI is a (free!) course, provided by Finland as ‘a present for the European Union’ providing a gentle introduction to artificial intelligence. What a great present!
- Gateway to Coding: Python Essentials Another (free!) course developed by the Institute of Coding, this one is designed particularly for folks like us at British Library who would like a gentle introduction to programming languages like Python, but can’t install anything on our work machines.
- Library Juice Academy has some great courses starting up in April. The other great thing about these is that you can take them 'live' which means the instructor is around and available and you get a certificate at the end or 'asynchronously' at your own pace (no certificate).
- Programming Historian Tutorials Tried and true, our team relies on these tutorials to understand the latest and greatest in using technology to manage and analyse data for humanities research.
Time for Play
Of course, if Stephen King’s The Shining has taught us anything, we’d all do well to ensure we make time for some play during these times of isolation!
We’ll be highlighting more opportunities for fun distractions in future posts, but these are just a few ideas to help keep your mind occupied at the moment:
- Living with Machines needs you to classify newspaper articles to help researchers understand the impact of mechanisation in the 19th century. There's nothing like reading about old accidents to put modern life into perspective!
- If you can't get out to the theatre, you can help bring past performances to life by transcribing playbills on In the Spotlight
- Get lost in our collection of 1 Million 19th Century images on Flickr or even better, login and add useful tags to help us build more albums!
- With the newly upgraded BL Georeferencer you can assign real-world coordinates to the BL collections of old maps. The BL is looking to have a full relaunch with some exciting new maps later this year, but in the meantime there are still more than 8,000 Flickr images to go.
Stay safe, healthy and sane out there guys!
The Digital Research Team