MA2007 Measuring Impact – Economic, social and educational

Stuart Davies said something very profound and funny is his talk about how to measure impact … “We’ve spent a f**k of a lot of money so it must have had some impact somewhere?”

However, I left the session thinking that perhaps they had missed something? For me, when trying to look at impact you have to be agreed what your definition of success is. This is where you need to start.

If you can do this, then you can think about how you can measure that, and in turn, ensure there are methodologies in place to measure those things.

I wish someone in the session had talked about this issue – can we agree as a sector how we define success? In fact, that is the wrong question, it is more – how does the government define success for cultural industries? I don’t think this one is rocket science, the work is there for the creative industries and we need to interrogate it for all the museum sector work we do.

The excellent ‘Inspiring Learning For All’ work by MLA, has done this for measuring learning outcomes. They have constructed a framework for generic learning outcomes that has proved to be really useful (and leaves the approach to methodology up to the individual).

This approach works really well and has helped as Sue Wilkinson says “to talk to government in big terms”. Keith Nicholls backed this view us in response to Sandy Nairn’s question, “ Are government hearing the results of this work”.

Keith says “yes”, James Purnell is committed to the “universal cultural offering for young people”, but adds that more work still needs to be done to convey that message to DSFC staff more clearly.

My questions for the future of this work at MLA would be “could you extend the Inspiring Learning for all Framework to look at online learning and the online experience?”

I feel sure that a lot of work has been done on how technology (the smart board or website etc.) has impacted inside the classroom. But my questions relates to outside the classroom and the more informal type of online experiences that museums ca do so well online.

I’d like to see MLA consider this question. It would also help to define better methodologies for collecting and measuring online impact, because without the framework (and the answer to the question what does success look like), we will be lost.

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