British Library Digital Toolkit

Theo Kuechel

Submitted Entry for 2014 Competition


There has been a significant increase in the quantity of cultural resources available online. This can be attributed to an increase digitisation of cultural artefacts, allied with a global trend towards to openness. This new digital landscape is providing innovative opportunities for learning and research. One excellent example of this is the British Library making over one million images available on Flickr, and inthe public domain. With 149,873,219 views, (source: British Library). We may infer from this, and the growing popularity of ‘archive’ social media platforms such as Historypin or Retronaut, there is a growing interest from the public in historical and cultural content.

It seems likely that British Library collections will familiar to the Libraries, Museums, Galleries sector, whilst academia will make extensive use of them, Although the viewing figures, mentioned in the previous paragraph, are highly encouraging, it is my opinion that one of the most important groups of potential users; the schools sector, may be missing out on the richness of these digitised assets..

Because of the way our school system is structured, with a designated curriculum, the discovery of digital resources is unlikely to be a priority for schools in their curriculum planning. Teachers are busy with little ‘downtime for the playful exploration and research that the collections encourage. However if we can prove that British Library collections are relevant to educators at school level, and can enrich all areas of the curriculum, then that default position may change.

In order to achieve this aim, I propose a digital resource, The BLdigital Toolkit, which will offer schools a unique opportunity to recognise the breadth, variety and scope of the British Library collections on Flickr.

The BLdigital Toolkit will be available online, as a strategic resource designed to raise awareness of, and demonstrate the educational potential of the British Library collections.
The component parts will include a community space and forum, a wiki, plus downloadable media assets including links, exemplars, tutorials and screencasts. Most importantly, there will be a facility for users to upload and share their artefacts, learning outcomes and metadata with colleagues and peers. The toolkit is generative, adaptable and will provide a number of different entry points to allow for age and experience, the underlying pedagogical framework and learning designs will assist schools and teachers to identify how and where the collection could fit into the curriculum, and provide tools for developing mapping their educational potential and application in the curriculum.

Assessment Criteria

The research question / problem you are trying to answer

Please focus on the clarity and quality of the research question / problem posed:

How can we help schools engage with the British Library Digital Collections, and how will that engagement benefit students in their learning?

Please explain the ways your idea will showcase British Library digital collections

Please ensure you include details of British Library digital collections you are showcasing (you may use several collections if you wish), a sample can be found at

The BLToolkit will raise the awareness of, and showcase, the British Library Collections hosted on Flickr in the schools sector.
Introducing the British Library digital collection to schools, the BLdigital Toolkit offers a contextual framework for learning and developing educational resources. it will showcase not only the collections themselves, but the pedagogical benefits, including those outlined below:
Discovering resources to be used freely and safely across all curriculum areas
Improve research skills
Introduce the concepts of curation, metadata and tagging
Encourage critical thinking
Develop computational thinking
Understand digital literacy
Teach ICT and Computing capability, coding and web skills
Remixing and repurposing
Enable the world today to be viewed a historical cultural lens
Foster a practical and meaningful understanding of Copyright and IP
Implement creative ideas for using digital content
As schools, teachers and students begin to engage with the collection, they will generate new artefacts and metadata which will once again be shared and showcased in order to provide inspiration for their peers and a wider audience. Most importantly links to the original content in the collections are an integral part of the BLdigital Toolkit.
The adaptable and scalable nature of the toolkit means that it can also be used with other British Library collections as appropriate.

Please detail the approach(es) / method(s) you are going to use to implement your idea, detailing clearly the research methods / techniques / processes involved

Indicate and describe any research methods / processes / techniques and approaches you are going to use, e.g. text mining, visualisations, statistical analysis etc.

I have developed the ideas for my submission as a proof of concept presentation, (work in progress), which introduces the toolkit, and can be viewed in the submitted URL.

My Initial desk research and prototype toolkit will be developed through focus groups workshops, comprising primary and secondary teachers (also possibly students) in order to gain user feedback to modify, adapt and shape the initial project. I believe the focus groups would welcome the opportunity to have the meetings at the British Library.

I have the necessary technical technical and web skills to create the toolkit resources within the timescales listed in the work plan,

The artefacts and pedagogical outputs will also provide valuable information, and assets for the BL Labs team.

Please provide evidence of how you / your team have the skills, knowledge and expertise to successfully carry out the project by working with the Labs team

E.g. work you may have done, publications, a list with dates and links (if you have them)

I have a background in teaching art, design and computing. In my role an educational consultant and researcher my experience is in digital literacies, social media and studying digital learning ecosystems for learning. My expertise and specialisms include visual literacy, online video for learning, open content and digital archives/collections, plus a practical working knowledge of Copyright and IP education. I am a firm advocate of Creative Commons and OERs (Open Educational Resources). I have given presentations and workshops on these topics in UK, Ireland, Czech Republic, France, Austria, United States, Romania, Belgium, Qatar and Greece.

MeshGuides - visual literacy
Consultancy and (internal) report on digital content strategy for ICTQatar /Qatar Ministry of Education 2010/11
QIA UK workshops for digitised resources (pdf)
Newsfilm Online assisted take up materials (pdf)

Chapter: Video For Learning: Past, Present and Future Digital Literacies in Education Vol 8 (Ed Gráinne Conole)(Link)
Peter Lang October 2013

Teaching and learning with Digital Video Assets (becta) pdf

Additional info; for any developmental work in schools I have a current full enhanced CRB disclosure covering the project period

Please provide evidence of how you think your idea is achievable on a technical, curatorial and legal basis

Indicate the technical, curatorial and legal aspects of the idea (you may want to check with Labs team before submitting your idea first).

The aims and outputs of the BLdigital Toolkit are realistic and achievable within the given timescale. Because the toolkit is online, and uses cloud based services, it will be browser ready in its earliest stages. All schools have a broadband Internet connections and many are using mobile devices such as tablets, thus offering a wide range of access options. The activities and learning outcomes are adaptable to both primary and secondary ages and all subject disciplines.

The most likely potential legal issue, is when teachers and students use, (copyrighted), third party content within projects that involve remix or repurposing the collections,. However the toolkit deals explicitly with copyright, IP and licensing through many of its activities and learning designs

Please provide a brief plan of how you will implement your project idea by working with the Labs team

You will be given the opportunity to work on your winning project idea between May 26th - Oct 31st, 2014.

I would work with labs to select and implement the most suitable platforms, including mobile, for hosting and disseminating the toolkit. Although I have web skill it may be helpful, depending on discussions to harness the coding skill of the Labs Team. I would also wish to discuss sustainability and future development with the Labs team. The teams input into the focus groups would also be very valuable, I would expect the schedule to follow the timescale below

Week 2 (before schools close), Focus group workshops meet at British Library, to gather feedback on will shape the final direction of the toolkit, initial contact would need to be made with participating schools before beginning of july
week 3-4 - Assimilate feedback and develop the toolkit in accordance with the feedback

Weeks 1-3 Develop toolkit and create resources, launch of platform, invite schools to pilot toolkit, dissemination strategy

Week 1 Launch of BLdigital Toolkit in schools
Weeks 2-4 Schools working with the BLdigital Toolkit

Weeks 1-2 Schools working with the BLdigital Toolkit
Weeks 2-3 Gathering and analysing data from schools, evaluation and feedback
Week 4 Final report and recommendations