Archaeology’s Audiences: The first public event of the Archaeology Audience Network (AAN)

Join us Thursday 11 November 2021 for our first AAN training session

Screenshot of MOLA webpage advertising the first Archaeology Audience Network event on 11 November 2021. The image shows a group of 6 people surrounding an archaeological handling kit.
https://www.mola.org.uk/archaeology-audience-network-training-session-1

I hope you might join us Thursday, 11 November, 2021 at either 16:00-18:00 GMT or 18:00-20:00 GMT for the first Archaeology Audience Network (AAN) training session. This free event is for all of you interested in audiences and public engagement with archaeology, which I imagine would be everyone working in, studying, and otherwise keen on the discipline – as well as those involved in the wider heritage sector. More information on the session and some of the underpinning evidence for it is available on MOLA’s website. We are running it twice to accommodate demand

The AAN is a collaboration between archaeological organisations in England working to bring together, learn from, and improve our use of data about audiences in order to achieve more meaningful impacts. Collaborators include MOLAthe Archaeology Data Servicethe Council for British ArchaeologyDigVenturesOxford ArchaeologyWessex Archaeology, and York Archaeological Trust, alongside a series of supporters from different professional and academic bodies. The Network will grow over time and we aim for it to be self-sustaining by the end of its formal two years of funding. This essential funding comes from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and The National Lottery through The Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative.

It’s hard for me to express how much and for how long I’ve been keen to see this type of collaboration realised. My MOLA colleague Magnus Copps (Head of Programming and Partnerships) and I began to work on the proposal as soon as the funding opportunity was announced last year. We reached out to our close working partners and affiliates who we believed would be equally enthusiastic (they were!), and from there the Network was born. The funding from DCMS and The National Lottery has been pivotal to making it possible – it allows us to collate existing data, use lessons learned (both from the categories of data being collected and from the data themselves) to formulate and test out new approaches to engagement with different citizens, and create new models for good practice around audience data, building on the long-standing good practice work of the ADS.

Our first outward-facing event associated with the Network is next week’s introductory training session on Archaeology’s Audiences. We’ve had to re-jig the schedule for the event a couple of times already, both because this is a learning experience for us, and because this first session is important for us in ensuring we fully lay out the foundations for the Network, present its context, highlight its evolving nature (which is designed to be responsive to themes and trends as they emerge), and gauge interest and reactions from different individuals and groups.

Per above, we are running the same session twice on the same day (11 Nov, 16:00-18:00 GMT and 18:00-20:00 GMT), and recording the first (less interactive) part of the session for wider dissemination afterwards. The demand we’ve witnessed for this event perhaps further reinforces not just how much interest there is in the subject matter, but also how much need exists for amalgamation of existing/past work, and alignment of future thinking and practice on matters of audience data and audience evaluation in archaeology.

As we mentioned in our Digital Skills for Heritage application, public archaeology as it is practiced within the context of the UK planning process forms a significant avenue for audiences to access ‘live’ archaeological investigations and contribute hands-on insights into UK heritage. It has access to relatively substantial sources of funding outside of the usual research and charitable grant streams. It takes place around and under the living and working spaces of all demographics in the UK. And it tends to be grounded in activities that can generate short and long-term human outcomes but that lack the enduring physical presence that comes from capital investment in buildings, restoration, or static interpretation. In other words, it is a very special field of practice, with much insight about audience engagement to share—and with tremendous potential to shape archaeological and heritage research and practice in all its manifestations.

We hope you’ll follow along with the work of the Network (email: aan@mola.org.uk, hashtag: #archaeoAN) and join us for the first session on 11 November 2021.

Evaluating the efficacy of fieldwork codes of conduct

Seeking your feedback on the impact of codes of conduct in enabling courageous responses to harm and harassment…

Teaching and Learning in Archaeology 25th March 2020It’s International Women’s Day today and the moment seems appropriate to seek your advice in relation to matters of prevention of, protection from, and institutional action around, harm and harassment in field-based projects.

Several years ago, after a series of challenging experiences overseeing fieldwork teams on local and international projects, I drafted a code of conduct – or Six Fieldwork Expectations – to use with my collaborators. The Expectations were inspired by various other contemporary initiatives (e.g., Dig Ventures’ Learning Agreement), and focus on creating respectful, safe, secure and non-threatening working and living environments for all project contributors.

Since publishing the Fieldwork Expectations document, it has been adapted and elaborated by different individuals, institutions and projects in various parts of the world. Some have instigated evaluations of its effectiveness through surveys and other assessment methods. These data are critical, especially as I’ve been asked several times about what proof I have that codes of conduct make a difference to safety and dignity in the field.

Seeking your help to evaluate effects

Right now I’m gathering and collating this evidence to present in a variety of contexts over the next six months (data anonymised, as requested by all contributors so far). I will discuss at least four case studies of the Code of Conduct in action in different projects/institutions, and I am keen to solicit further data from those who’ve used the Six Fieldwork Expectations document or created their own specific codes of conduct. 

My interest is in speaking empirically about the efficacy of these codes of conduct. What do I mean by ‘efficacy’?

I have been looking recently into how an organisation or project responds ‘courageously’ to instances of harm and harassment. Per Jennifer Freyd, this includes: 

  • sensitively reacting to victim disclosures
  • being accountable and apologising
  • encouraging whistleblowing
  • educating your leaders
  • being transparent about policies
  • self-reflecting and self-evaluating

I’m thus seeking evidence of successes and failures in applying codes of conduct, especially data that testify to whether such codes actually enable or otherwise hinder ‘courageous’ behaviours.

Adapting the code of conduct to enable courageous responses

Like most people I know who have adapted the Fieldwork Expectations document, my own teams have changed it over time and buttressed it with different support mechanisms. For instance, inspired by an amazing scholar who approached me a couple of years ago about her experiences, my teams now take turns reading parts of the code aloud before a project begins in an effort to create a common bond between the group. We’ve also created a simplified version of the code to use with collaborators whose language and reading needs mean that speaking aloud the key ideas and providing common verbal acknowledgements are more meaningful than reading then signing the document.

I also know from my own applications of the code that it can be

  1. overly wordy and too intellectualised
  2. needs translation and adaptation for different contexts
  3. is only meaningful when supported by other initiatives to encourage openness and education
  4. is currently not very effective in relation to minimising harm through social media, especially use of WhatsApp or FB Messenger among team members

I would be very grateful for your help in identifying case studies where empirical evaluation of the Fieldwork Expectations document has been undertaken. If you could spread the word or contact me directly with information, I’ll be incredibly appreciative.

I’ll be presenting my preliminary findings first in Manchester (see poster above), hosted by the incredible Hannah Cobb. But if you are not in a position to travel, I’ll keep you posted as I continue to gather evidence. All feedback and data are very much appreciated!

User experience design in archaeology and cultural heritage

Join us to refine user experience design models and toolkits for the archaeology and heritage sector…

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  • Are you designing digital resources for different archaeological users – specialists and wider audiences alike?
  • Do you deploy – or do you want to deploy – methods from the UX (user experience) and participatory design fields?
  • What workflows do you follow in iteratively developing your digital outputs? How are end users and stakeholders involved throughout these workflows?
  • What evaluation methodologies are you using to assess the successes and failures of your digital work with diverse audiences?

Please join us to explore these questions (and more!) in our Roundtable Session #S36 on User Experience Design in Archaeology & Cultural Heritage at the CAA International Conference in Kraków, Poland, 23-27 April, 2019.

We welcome all contributors who are working to integrate archaeological/heritage data and digital platforms into experiences that are truly tailored to the needs and expectations of their users.

We seek to discuss your iterative methodologies, your users’ experiences, and your lessons-learned in order to develop a more concerted user experience design model & toolkit for the archaeology and heritage sector.

The full abstract for our roundtable is pasted below. This is a discussion-focused session and papers should be ‘flash’ in nature – i.e., no more than 10 minutes – and will be pre-circulated to allow us to delve into specifics during moderated discussion periods.

Deadline for submission of abstracts is Wednesday 10 October 2018.

To apply: Submit an abstract of no more than 250 words, excluding session title, author names, affiliations, and email addresses as well as 3 – 5 keywords. Please go to the CAA conference website to log-in and submit your paper abstract by clicking here. You will need to log-in by going to User Home, clicking on CAA 2019 and then looking for the Submission link at the bottom of the page under the Conference Information header. You can select our session #S36 from the Track drop-down menu.

This roundtable is sponsored by the EU COST ACTION network ARKWORK: https://www.arkwork.eu/

For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact Francesca Dolcetti, me, or Rachel Opitz.

We hope you can join us!


User Experience Design in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (Session 36)

Francesca Dolcetti (University of York), Rachel Opitz (University of Glasgow), Sara Perry (University of York)

Despite the widespread dissemination of digital tools and applications in both archaeology and heritage, relatively little is known about their real effectiveness and impact on diverse audiences (specialists and lay publics alike). A new iterative design workflow, involving end users and stakeholders from the outset, as well as an accompanying design evaluation methodology, may open new avenues for engagement while, at once, constructively influencing our research objectives and epistemologies.

In this Roundtable session, we seek to bring together a multidisciplinary group looking at different aspects of archaeological knowledge production to discuss theoretical and methodological issues in the field of participatory design and user experience, and to foster a critical understanding of how this knowledge is used and its social impact. Our aim is to convene researchers and practitioners in a dialogue that is focused on examples of interdisciplinary co-creation and user testing of Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Realities (AR, VR, and MR) and related digitally-mediated experiences for museums, archaeological and cultural heritage sites, and varied teaching and research contexts. We are particularly interested in practical experiences around how to integrate archaeological data, storytelling and digital platforms to create experiences truly tailored to the needs and expectations of users.

The format of this Roundtable is a series of flash position papers (10 minutes maximum) followed by periods of moderated discussion. The session concludes with an open floor discussion and a wrap-up report summarising the discussion and suggesting follow-up activities. Position papers will be submitted in advance to the session chairs and shared with all panelists. The session welcomes participants from different sectors including but not limited to digital humanities, archaeology, museology, design research and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).