¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 2 Conservation professionals create a large number of digital resources, but have a superficial knowledge of how to use, manipulate and engage with these resources in the digital realm. Few in the profession have experience with code-based works, and fewer still understand the concept of “big data,” the large datasets whose potential is unearthed with nontraditional data processing applications. A prevailing sentiment in the profession is that “individuals will pick up these skills on their own,” but there is no evidence that self-learning of this nature is taking place. Indeed conservators admit to inadequate digital skills and cite time constraints and lack of training and professional development opportunities as key factors that limit their ability to learn new skills in this area.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 3 Addressing the skills gap is a major concern. Conservation training programs are not equipped to take up this training mantle in their present form. They can teach digital skills only in a tangential manner, and cannot expand their curricula – which is already replete with coursework – to incorporate formal training in this area. Indeed, a significant reorganization of professional training programs would be required to accommodate the growing information and digital literacy needs of the profession.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 1 “I have taught graduate students in museums studies, including online courses in conservation, and have found that the students enrolled were not as tech savvy as I thought they would be. I assumed they would know how to use social media, and would already have had accounts for major sites like Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia. But they didn’t, and so we had to spend a lot of time getting up to speed.
When I developed a course for Johns Hopkins University, I created a “Week 0” in my syllabus, where enrolled students had to research, create, and set up all the social media and other accounts they would need to effectively participate and succeed in the course. This was all done before the first week of classes.
I think that all graduate students today should have a standard set of accounts that they hold and know how to use. In the same way many learned how to type on typewriters. Having online accounts today should be seen as ‘basic skills.’”
– Richard McCoy
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 2 Even if such reorganization were to come about, the ever-changing nature of the digital landscape means training in digital skills and competencies is a career-long pursuit. Traditional approaches to training cannot be the sole answer. It may be that professional training programs are best positioned to incorporate a basic understanding of the role of data into their curricula, leaving specific skill acquisition to take place over one’s career through alternative training and professional development programs.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 A number of these alternative programs have emerged in the cultural and academic community. In the cultural arena, projects such as the Getty’s “10 Minute Tech” program, Imperial War Museum’s “Computer Club”, “23 Things” program, and THATCamps have successfully taught digital skills to a wide range of cultural heritage professionals. These programs began as grassroots efforts to fill gaps in training at no or low cost. In the academic community, new models are emerging in the form of MOOCs and online courses, and in certification programs such as badging. Alternative training models such as these offer important learning opportunities, and need to be adopted in the conservation community.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 An underlying issue in all discussions about training is an uncertainty about what should be taught. No core digital competencies have been established for the profession, so there is disagreement on what constitutes digital literacy and proficiency and how it should be achieved. The development of core digital competencies will be a key priority for the field, and one that must be addressed before other training issues can be considered.
Leave a comment on paragraph 8 3
Create a Digital Competencies Task Force (Short-term)
AIC should create a Digital Competencies Task Force under the aegis of its Education and Training Committee (ETC). Leaders from the professional conservation training programs should be invited to serve on the task force, along with other conservators and educators.
Leave a comment on paragraph 9 2
Develop Digital Competencies Set for the Profession (Mid-term)
The Digital Competencies Task Force should draft a set of digital competences for the profession and identify a training agenda that will help the community develop these competencies.
Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0
Implement Training in Academic Programs and Develop Continuing Education Programs (Long-term)
The professional conservation training programs should implement whatever portion of the Digital Competencies Task Force training agenda applies to them. Other groups that can develop and provide continuing education programs need to be identified. These groups might include formal organizations such as FAIC, but also include the alternative, grassroots efforts that have been effective at local levels (see above).
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0  The Getty’s “10 Minute Tech” program https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toRnpDFlUmY; “Computer Club Awesomeness: An interview with IWM’s Carolyn Royston.” Blog. Museum Geek. https://museumgeek.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/computer-club-awesomeness-an-interview-with-iwms-carolyn-royston/; Blowers, Helene. “6 Years of 23 Things.” Blog posting, August 21, 2012. http://www.heleneblowers.info/2012/08/6-years-of-23-things.html; What is a THATCamp? http://thatcamp.org/about/.
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0  Diaz, Veronica, Smith, Sondra R. and Tracy Petrillo. “Seven Things You Should Know about Badging for Professional Development. EDUCAUSE. August 7, 2014. http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/7-things-you-should-know-about-badging-professional-development; “Seven Things You Should Know About MOOCS. EDUCAUSE. November 9, 2011. http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/7-things-you-should-know-about-moocs.