Webinar Series: Adapting to COVID-19: Resources for Natural History Collections in a New Virtual World

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iDigBio recognizes the rapid changes happening within museum communities and the efforts being made throughout the community to adapt to these changes. We hope that this webinar series can help to provide insight into how different groups and institutions are adapting to life in a quickly evolving world. We currently have the following events planned and would love to hear from the community if you have ideas for future webinars. All webinars will be recorded and held in Zoom. Stay tuned for more events to be posted soon, and check out the calendar event for event details!

2020 Webinars

July 28: Planning for Virtual Events: Lessons learned from Digital Data & SPNHC Conference Planners
Topics to include: Registration, Planning the Schedule, Recruiting and Trainings for Presenters and Moderators, Planning for Posters and Oral Presenters (Storage, Communication, Accessibility - time zones, etc), Vendors, Website and Organization, Benefits of a Virtual Mtg

August 25: Executing Virtual Events: Lessons learned from Digital Data & SPNHC Conference Planners
Topics to include: Zoom, Social Media, Audience Engagement/Managing Expectations, Day of Roles and Responsibilities, Social Engagements, Tips for Considering Accessibility & Inclusion, Surveys, and Meeting formats moving forward.

Additional Resources:

September 15-17: Taking the Pulse of Natural History Collections During COVID-19 Series: Where are we now?
Join iDigBio, NSCA, BCON, NSF, and SPNHC for a mini-series to discuss the climate of natural history collections during COVID. What is the community experiencing? How are they coping? How do we persevere? (See here for a blog post recap of this mini series.)

September 15: Review Results of BCON’s Community Survey & Break-out room discussion
Speaker: Barbara Thiers

Discussion synthesis: What are the top three challenges faced by collections since the pandemic started? (text below, or also see slides from a summary presented at the ADBC Summit on 2020-09-25)

  1. Adjusting to remote work, both logistically and mentally (Imbalance between outside work and inside work developing because field work generation of collections is out-pacing ability of the inside work of labs and curators to keep up, Lack of necessary equipment and digital infrastructure to work from home, Finding a new normal - changes in focus associated with working from home, Lack of access to collections, Access to in-museum resources -- collections, libraries, Difficulty of telecommuting (including issues like childcare as well as technology needs), Long term environmental monitoring; the longer we don't have use and access the bigger the problem and the uncertainty about when we can resume normal operations)
  2. Budget uncertainty, including loss of paid staff (Lost student workers and part-time people, Budget concerns, Long term staff/knowledge loss, Potential of delayed budget cuts in state-funded museums and universities, Lack of visitation = loss of revenue that supports science, Budget concerns - furloughs, layoffs, effects on other museums we do business with)
  3. Ability to provide support for research (1. Research support - loans, accessions, visitors to collections, volunteer assistance, Reduction of loans, Loans and no visitors or volunteers)
  4. Maintaining relationships with volunteers (Limited volunteer assistance, Lost volunteers, Loss of volunteer corps)

September 16: Collections Perspectives & Break-out room discussion
Speakers: John Bates, Emily Braker, Brian Atkinson, Mare Nazaire

Discussion synthesis: What are the top three positive outcomes experienced by collections as we adapt to new COVID-aware workplace guidelines? (text below, or also see slides from a summary presented at the ADBC Summit on 2020-09-25)

  1. Collaboration is more frequent and more accessible (Collaborative trainings, Virtual conferences and meetings increase participation and inclusion, Collaboration has continued/improved with Zoom and Slack; establishments of global interaction with working and interest groups, Increased connectivity across collections due to the virtual component being made more readily available, Collaboration opportunities that may have been unlikely before)
  2. Backburner projects are receiving more attention (Rise of the back burner projects, A chance to re-assess "the bus test" in terms of safety responses and who has all the passwords etc., Getting Collections Documentation updates)
  3. Opportunity to reassess existing staff responsibilities and policies (Increased productivity and encouragement to make the virtual realm work; Finding hybrid methods; Learn to deal with and accommodate disruption; Building resilience among staff, Providing additional cross-disciplinary training for existing personnel, Flexible policies allowing staff to work from home on collections objects -- photographing, digitizing, cataloguing, prepping...)
  4. Opportunity to reflect and plan strategically (Innovation - finding new ways to connect people and students to collections, Opportunity to reflect and gain new perspective on strategic planning (including that related to collections), Attending virtual conferences has reduced the carbon footprint of the the conference!)
  5. Increase in digitally accessible data and materials (Increase in digital loan requests, photograph downloads etc., Pandemic lights a fire under digitization because of new priorities for using specimens in teaching and research, Equitable access has extended through remote digital engagement of the public and improvement in data generation and data quality)

Additional Resources:

September 17: Moving Forward: Communities Response and Opportunities for the Future: Presentations and Panel Discussion/Q&A
Speakers: Rob Gropp, Pam Soltis, Scott Miller, Roland Roberts

October 27: Virtual Project Management, Tips and Tools
Join us for an informative webinar focused on the basics of project management followed by lessons learned from the iDigBio community through managing multi-institution digitization projects (e.g. ADBC Thematic Collections Networks). Topics to include: organization, project tracking, communication strategies, and compiling and preparing reports. There will also be time for Q&A at the end of the webinar.
Speakers: Diego Barroso, Jen Zaspel, David Jennings

November 18: Engaging Public Participation in Collections Digitization
Learn about opportunities to use the Zooniverse platform for collections digitization, including examples of Notes from Nature related to transcription and phenology scoring projects. We will also demo available project management tools for NfN, followed by a higher-level explanation of the technology behind the platform that makes it all possible.
Speakers: Austin Mast, Katie Pearson

Additional Resources:

December 8: Built-in Flexibility: Lessons learned to engage your community virtually
Join us for an interactive webinar focused on designing engaging and accessible online events that build lasting community. We will explore the 2020 Biology and Math Educators (BIOME) Institute organized by BioQUEST and QUBES as a case study. We will share lessons learned and practices that can be applied to online professional development and educational events. Topics include: participant engagement, asynchronous and synchronous community building, access, universal design, and online professional development.
Speakers: Andrew Hasley, Hayley Orndorf, Deborah Rook

  • Slides and additional resources can be found in Hasley, A. O., Orndorf, H., Rook, D. (2020). Built-in Flexibility: Lessons learned to engage your community virtually. QUBES Leadership Team, QUBES Educational Resources. doi:10.25334/R6Y9-4T28
  • Webinar Recording

Additional Resources:

2021 Webinars

February 23: Using social media to support and promote natural history collections
Join speakers from the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Alf Museum of Paleontology, and the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections to learn how you can use social media as an effective outreach tool, both for communicating the value of your collection and for forging new collaborations. We will discuss how to frame social media engagement as storytelling, including how to think about your target audiences and narrative strategy on different platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) and how to use metrics to track success beyond numbers of likes. This webinar will also cover how to consider inclusivity and diversity in your social media strategy, and how to use backwards planning to make your social media workload manageable.
Speakers: Sadie Mills, Gabe Santos, Mariana Di Giacomo

Additional resources