Colonsay Connections Colonsay and Oransay Heritage Trust

Colonsay and Oransay Heritage Trust

  • From 1st April 2015 to 31st March 2016
  • Award: £4,850 via Call 2

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Project plan

Project description

Growing our community resources via a website and the digitalisation of our historical archives; In doing so, we will develop digital skills and promote our community locally and to a broad global network. We will:
• Use digitisation as a method for actively engaging community members in developing digital skills through the production of a heritage website and digital archives;
• Develop the necessary skill base within the community to maintain and sustain a lasting digital resource. - Use skill exchange and training between community members to engage the community with the archive and share skills;
• Use the process as a learning experience which promotes the participation of members and the wider community;
• Increase our audiences steadily and set ambitious targets for future growth;
• Increase audience engagement with the resources and programmes online.



Project underway with the purchase of our new website:

With distance support, via email and skype, from Gemma Webster from Aberdeen University we have been reviewing our heritage materials in order to establish our priorities for inclusion on our website. The website itself is currently being customised, after time spent reviewing the Hebridean Connections website on which ours is modelled, to meet the needs we have identified. Once this is completed we will be in a position to begin our training on how to populate the website, using the format developed for us in consultation with Gemma.

In parallel with our website preparations the Trust carried out a needs analysis of island residents before organising, through Community Learning Development, a weekend of workshops, delivered on the island in the local primary school by three trainers. This proved very popular with island residents, even before we discovered that our local council were providing this training for free! The workshops covered Word, Email, Excel and Social Media, and were flexible enough to cover a wide range of skills, experience and confidence of participants. It was obvious from the completed evaluations that the weekend had proved helpful, informative and enjoyable and that further training would be much appreciated. Using the information gathered from the evaluations the Trust organised a second weekend of workshops for March 2016.

By the time this second round of training took place, two Trust website administrators and a volunteer system’s specialist had attended a one day training session at Napier University, in January 2016. This was a very intensive day’s training, delivered by Gemma from her new employment. We learned how to populate the website with photographs and linked information, as well as a little background into how the website worked. It was a steep learning curve on the day and since then the Trust have been steadily adding to our digital archives. Trust members and associate members have been following our progress on the website and are already contributing to our database.

The second weekend of on island training was also well attended, with some returning students as well as new islanders who had heard how helpful the initial training had been. From the needs analyses from the previous evaluations the workshops this time covered Word (recap and next steps), Excel (recap and next steps), Social Media, apps and other devices and a final session specifically to answer questions from the Trust regarding the new website. A number of islanders benefitted from the opportunity for one to one sessions with an expert and once again the evaluations were very positive.

This has been a very valuable project, which will continue to grow beyond the grant period as participants’ confidence with using technology continues to increase the scope of our new website.

Our project has benefitted both the community and COHT.

Community: The format for both weekends of community training worked very well: formal sessions covering the main topics (identified by the community prior to the weekend through an open questionnaire) and informal drop-in sessions for one to one tutorials. This format also encouraged skills exchange within the community as well as identifying mainland support for the future, covering hardware/software support as well as tutorial support.
Evaluations from the events were very positive:
‘Everything about this course was good. It was great to be able to ask questions about things you don’t understand.’
‘I would hope that trainers would come back on an annual basis to keep us up to date. The course was much more than I expected and I am very grateful to COHT who organised it.’
‘A very informative two days - friendly and helpful trainers - just what the island needed!’
‘Trainers managed a large group of learners at different levels of knowledge and understanding.’

Colonsay and Oransay heritage Trust: Training specific to the Trust, for setting up our new website, was delivered off island at Napier University, through an intensive one day course and ad hoc telephone support. We also took on the services of an IT systems consultant for additional online and telephone support for the initial setup of our new website. Those trained are now the administrators for the site and are now in a position to provide community training to allow others to contribute to the site.

Initially we had hoped that some website training would happen via Skype, however our broadband proved too intermittent and speed too slow to make this a realistic proposition. We look forward to the autumn, when we hope to have access to superfast broadband via microwave. But although this will be an enormous improvement on our current system, particularly in our remote situation, we have learned that this is not a substitute for real live trainers on the island. The training islanders have now undertaken has opened the door to progressing this in the future. As the speed of development of technology increases, the community feel it is important that we do not get left behind, but take it upon ourselves to keep up to date. There is now a greater feeling of confidence among the community - a great benefit to the Trust too.

Our digital work is delivered in partnership with: