Friday, 13 March 2015

Engaging with Education: Creating resources based on the HIV/AIDS collections.

Last week, I began a month long project to make the newly accessible HIV/AIDS collections (conserved and catalogued last year) more available to a larger and more diverse audience. The project is funded by the Wellcome Trust’s ‘Provision for Public Engagement’ scheme, which allows previously Wellcome Trust funded projects to apply for further funding to develop a strategy to encourage the public to use and engage with the material. Our project aims to create educational resources based on the HIV/AIDS collections and linked to the Curriculum for Excellence, focusing on the year groups S2 to S3. These resources will be uploaded on to a dedicated website and are for use by teachers and educational professionals.

Collage of postcards from the 'Take Care' Campaign
This is a short term project which hopes to achieve a lot. As such, there is a large group of people who are helping out. Firstly, the website is being created in house by the Interactive Content Team. They have come up with some great designs and ideas for the website based on the collection items. Next we have Iain Philips, who is on a short term secondment from John Lewis, thanks to a John Lewis Golden Jubilee Award. He will be working 2 days a week for the next 20 weeks at LHSA, and for his first month he will be making educational resources and helping with the promotion of the website. Clair Millar, Project Cataloguing Archivist, is also helping out on the project. She will be providing some historical context for the website, describing the problem of HIV/AIDS in Edinburgh and the Lothians in more detail, to give a background to the collections. Conservation volunteer, Colette Bush, will also be helping out on this project. Colette is starting a Master’s degree in Museum Studies and will also be making educational resources for the website. Finally, the LHSA team will help with checking the website for any errors or navigational problems, making this project a truly collaborative effort! 
Collage of Postcards made for World AIDS day
As I trained as a paper conservator, this project is a little bit out of my comfort zone. So I have been talking to teachers, youth workers and educational professionals to find out more about the curriculum and how to make educational resources. I first dipped my toes in to world of Education by attending a one-day workshop provided by the Scottish Council on Archives entitled “Understanding the Curriculum”. This gave a basic overview of the education system in Scotland (invaluable for someone like me who is from south of the border!) and gives an introduction on how to make educational resources based on archive material. I’ve also spoken with representatives from Education Scotland who gave useful information on teacher’s needs and timetables as well as giving insightful feedback on our resource drafts.  Edinburgh University’s Widening Participation team have also been very positive about the project and will help us advertise the website when it is completed to the local schools that they work with. We’ve also had a great response from Crew 2000, a charity that provides information, advice and support for young people on sexual health and drug use.  

Overall, the project has got off to a great start. The HIV/AIDS collections have huge education potential and there is loads of material to choose from to make engaging and informative resources. The website will be launched in May, so keep your eyes peeled for project updates in the coming months!

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