Digital Fellow Update: Marco Mason at Derby Museums

What problem or challenge are you addressing in your museums? i.e. what is the main objective of your research?

My research is exploring how digital is purposefully used by museum people in their working practices and employed to engage visitors in meaningful experiences. In this research, purposeful is explored as a value that results from the organizational culture which, at Derby Museums, is profoundly driven by human-centered design (design thinking).

This research asks:

  1. How and why person-centered values can be strategically embedded within the organisation’s digital practice
  2. How design thinking culture informs the development of a museum’s digital environment and its resulting working practices

In this context, the term “digital environment” refers to a range of aspects including the interplay of digital resources, digital tools, and digital skills that make up the digital working environment and integrated digital visitor experience within which the museum operates and museum practices take place.

What principles / experiences / methodologies are you using to help solve this problem?

I am conducting an action research intervention that is guided by the principles of Human-Centred Design.

I am working in close collaboration with senior managers and museum people at Derby Museums. By the end of the intervention (July/August 2019), we aim to design a roadmap for implementing a “digital environment” for the Derby Museums. The implementation will take place after the One by One fieldwork phase.

During my intervention, I am conducting participatory observation, which is a methodology widely used in organisational ethnography (see, for example, Ybema, Sierk, et al., eds. Organizational ethnography: Studying the complexity of everyday life. Sage, 2009). I am also carrying out open-ended and semi-structured interviews; and document analysis.

What’s your next step going to be?

Now (March 2019) the research is in the Understanding Phase, mapping digital resources, activities, and digital skills. As a result of our workshops, interviews, and document analyses, insights and opportunities are emerging, which the team will develop in the next phase – Ideation, or Think & Imagine.

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