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DRI Focus on: Learning in Lockdown

by Dr Deborah Thorpe, Education and Outreach Manager

As the COVID-19 situation has worsened, links to articles promoting productivity during lockdown have proliferated on our social media feeds. As we scroll through Twitter during a coffee break, we are told that Isaac Newton used his time wisely during the Great Plague of London (n.b. he did not have any childcare responsibilities). Shakespeare may have penned King Lear in plague quarantine, we read. The initial shock of being plunged into a pandemic has quickly mutated into pressure to maintain (or even improve) professional standards in this extraordinary situation. Rise to the challenge, use this extra time productively, we are advised.

Productivity-related anxiety has grown, as those who work from home juggle childcare, home-schooling, concerns about partners on the front line, the risk of losing their job, and – of course – sickness. Of course, these conflicting pressures and feelings are nothing new to many of us – working mothers and carers, for example, who deal with these issues even at the best of times. However, as life in lockdown continues, resistance has developed against the idea that we must be brilliant in the face of adversity. ‘We’re home because we have to be home, and we have much less attention because we’re living through so much’, recognises productivity consultant Chris Bailey. The New Yorker responded to the news of Shakespeare’s 'pestilential productivity' with a wonderful satirical piece on distraction, procrastination, and self-doubt.

This is all to emphasise that we should not feel obliged to use the two hours that we usually spend on a sweaty train becoming proficient in Spanish, learning to play the violin, or – of course – answering more work emails. It’s tough to learn new things when, in these difficult times, we might struggle to deal with the ‘old things’.

That said, a wealth of resources for online learning have emerged over the past month. Many new online courses focus on digital preservation and open science. The value of these resources should be recognised, since those who would not usually have access to face-to-face training (perhaps because they cannot not afford registration fees, cannot travel, or do not currently work in the area) can now avail of opportunities to learn. Online courses can also serve as useful substitutes for cancelled face-to-face training courses and postponed conferences and workshops. At the very least, we might find it refreshing to spend some time alone, ploughing through a MOOC, at a time of ‘Zoom fatigue’ and email exhaustion! 

With this in mind, we’ve decided to compile a ‘menu’ of some of the online learning opportunities that have emerged during the lockdown. Some of these, of course, had been in the pipeline long before the pandemic struck. Many of them will still exist when (hopefully) we are back, together with our workmates. However, we might find them especially useful now, as we settle into our makeshift home ‘offices’. Just remember, though, be kind to yourself...these are difficult times.

We will update the list below as we discover more of these opportunities to learn. So, if you find this useful, we encourage you to bookmark it and check in periodically. Don’t worry if you forget, though – we’ll let you know via our Twitter feed. If you have a resource to contribute, please email us at


Update 21 May 2020

The LIBER Conference 2020, 22-26 June - Free!

LIBER’s conference for 2020 was due to be held in Belgrade, Serbia, and we are sure it would have been a fantastic occasion. However, the coronavirus has forced the cancellation of this event, like every other that we were looking forward to this summer. The silver lining is that a LIBER conference will now be held online across 22-26th June, and will be completely FREE to register. Attendees will be able to join in sessions and workshops on open access, citizen science, research data management, and much more! There will also be a very topical opening address on ‘Reflections on the impact of Covid-19 on Open Science’. Check out the programme here: Registration opens 25 May. 

Digital Preservation Essentials modules, The Australasia Preserves Digital Preservation (DP) Essentials Working Group 

Originally designed for face-to-face delivery, these modules on digital preservation are being presented online for feedback. They are focused on pre-ingest and ingest activities for digital preservation work. The working group states that participants will: 

- Learn about key digital preservation concepts 

- Learn how to prepare digital materials for preservationLearn how to approach workflow development for digital preservation 

- Learn about current tools for working with digital materials.

For your ‘To Read’ pile: New Guidance Notes from the DPC on 'How Researchers Use the Archived Web'

Check out the new Technology Watch Guidance Notes series from the Digital Preservation Coalition, the first of these being 'How Researchers Use the Archived Web'. This orients organisations engaged in Web archiving (or those intending to be), to the kinds of uses researchers might expect to make of the content they collect. It aims to support the development of programs of user research and engagement, and in turn inform collection development policies and the design of discovery and access services. More information here:

#DRInsights: Introduction to the ACERR, and the Digital Repository of Ireland Ingest Process

DRI recently took part in an online session focusing on the Arts and Culture in Education Research Repository (ACERR), at NUI Galway Open Scholarship Week. A highlight of this was an informative video on the ACERR/DRI ingest process by ACERR PhD researcher Catherine Bourne. This is a fantastic member-created addition to DRI’s comprehensive member training programme, which includes collection creation and ingest into the DRI repository.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about DRI’s training programme, contact DRI Education and Outreach Manager Dr Deborah Thorpe:

Update: 1 May 2020:

‘Novice to Know How’, Digital Preservation Coalition (ongoing, in 4 week cycles)

The DPC have created an impressive resource in their ‘Novice to Know How’ course. Funded by The National Archives, UK, the course aims to provide beginners in digital preservation with the skills to implement simple workflows at their organizations. In a recent blog post, Sharon McMeekin describes the process of planning, building and testing the resource, which launches officially in May. The DRI team was granted access to the April pilot, and have found it a comprehensive, interesting, and user-friendly opportunity to learn the ‘ins and outs’ of digital preservation. Access to the Novice to Know-How course will work on monthly 4-week cycles, starting on the 1st of each month. Sign up here:

‘Creating a Digital Cultural Heritage community’, KU Leuven, via EdX (started Apr 23, 8 week access)

This MOOC is designed for those who wish to learn how to create user engagement with digital cultural heritage. By the end of the course, the creators say, ‘you will be able to help others to discover and enjoy the benefits of cultural heritage’. The syllabus takes a look at the use case of Europeana, the digital portal for European cultural heritage content. There is also a specific focus on photography and dance content. For more information and free enrollment (without the optional Verified Certificate), see:

‘Open GLAM now!’ Swedish National Heritage Board (ongoing)

‘Open cultural heritage collections & institutions by digital means’ is the tagline for this beautifully-packaged webinar series produced by the Swedish National Heritage Board. It is divided into bite-size sections with intriguing titles, including ‘Let’s talk data’, ‘Copyright between protection and democratic freedom’, and ‘Hacking heritage’. All of these include recorded webinar sessions, lovely images from various Swedish collections, and a wealth of suggestions for further reading. See:

#DRInsights: April's DRI Learning Resource of the Month (ongoing)

We’d like to remind our readers of the audio recording and accompanying slides from last September’s lecture in our collaborative ‘Personal Digital Archiving’ series. Sara Day Thomson of the Digital Preservation Coalition spoke to us about ‘Personal Digital Archiving: Storing, Organising and Protecting Your Digital Content for the Future’. The public talk, co-organised by the DRI and the National Archives, focused on the power of a personal digital archive and the importance of determining a course of action for safeguarding that archive. Check out our report about the event at: Watch this space for further lectures in the series!

[Image: Photo by David Boca on Unsplash]