Building a better Digital Strategy - Step 2: Spread the Load

11 April 2018

In the second of three posts, AND Trustee Eylan Ezekiel shares his tips for creating a better digital strategy for Arts, Culture and Heritage organisations engaging with schools.

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(Image credit: Pixabay)

This is the second of 3 posts sharing steps to a better digital strategy for Arts, Culture and Heritage organisations engaging with schools - read the other two in the series below:

Step 1: Seek Connections

Step 3: Share the Risk


As a Trustee for A New Direction, I can see the benefits of collaboration for young people in London. In my first post, Seek Connections, I recommended opening and expanding the network of educational organisations the Arts, Culture and Heritage (ACH) sector works with. I suggested reaching out to education policy and research organisations, and in this next post I’ll propose exploring connections with commercial and/or for-profit entities.

By spreading the load (resources, funds, time) collaboration could lead to better edtech development, engagement with schools and learners, and outcomes for young people.
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(Image credit: Bryan M Mathers)

So, you want to expand your digital offering to schools. Let’s assume you had good advice, you have clear goals for this project, you’ve considered the 5Whys, and you’ve found out what your users want, rather than what you want to show them. There is still a LOT of work to do, such as:

  • Market research
  • Proof of concept testing
  • Bid writing
  • Communications with schools
  • Analysing and interpreting evidence
  • Buying in specialist services
  • Tendering for suppliers/developers

Rather than doing all this on your own, an effective partnership can significantly reduce the resource implications of doing a good job, even (especially) in very tight financial circumstances.

So... What partnership might help you?

Research Community - Universities, Academics

  • Possible subject experts to help author content
  • Can support finding an evidence base for your offering (also helps with marketing!)
  • Can help look for similar projects to learn from
  • Technical expertise

Education Charities / Foundations

  • Wide range of value-led charities to align with your own
  • Many come with a network of schools
  • Can offer funding, joint bids, access to High Net Worth Individuals

Multi Academy Trusts

  • Access to a ready audience of schools, with a channel to talk to them
  • Likely to have a focus (regional, subject,etc)
  • Pedagogical expertise

Campaign / Special Interest Groups

  • Appropriate expertise where and when you need it most
  • Shared influence

Of course, there are other possible partners: subject associations, regional broadband consortia, industry bodies, trade unions, awarding bodies, and Think Tanks; all of which come with specific pros and cons.

All partnerships take time to set up, including serious issues (such as rights, licensing and revenue sharing). Even when you might be clear in why you are interested in a partnership, it is not always obvious what’s in it for them! This is another major issue to consider and I do not underestimate these difficulties, but they must be offset against the potential gains - especially when considering the costs of digital productions.

Recommendations

  • Analyse your organisational weaknesses, and prioritise by impact on schools audience work (e.g, lack of video on site reduces take up of CPD sessions)
  • Evaluate resource implications and set a tangible £ target for making a partnership ‘Worth it’ (if we could increase CPD bookings by 18% a partnership will be worth it)
  • Seek partners with related strengths or shared issues and be transparent in your intentions
  • Agree a resource constraint to your relationship (1xday a month for 1st quarter, etc)
  • Be as public and open about your partnership as possible to share the model!

Weigh up your options, and share the load!

We’d love to hear success stories from the ACH sector and if you’d already tried this, please share or ask questions on Twitter @eylanezekiel and with @A_New_Direction


Eylan Ezekiel is a Trustee at A New Direction. He is an edtech producer and teacher, with a specialist consultancy in digital education.

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Posted under Creative Commons Licence - CC BY-NC

Read Eylan's other posts on building a better digital strategy below:

Step 1: Seek Connections

Step 3: Share the Risk