For me, the DPTP online courses mean being able to offer our training courses to a much wider audience. Our face-to-face courses have been successful, and the feedback from students who have attended them has been very positive about the skills they have learned and the confidence they have gained through attending a course.
However, we receive emails on a regular basis from people who are interested in learning more about digital preservation, but are unable to attend our face-to face courses. This might be because they are based outside the UK and are unable to afford travel costs, or have issues with visas, or are simply not able to travel.
In times of restricted budgets and cuts to services, this can also mean that people within the UK are unable to afford the time away from the office or cost of travel to attend a face-to-face course in London. These issues also came up in our survey, and the desire to wave a magic wand and somehow make our courses more accessible to everyone has always been strong with me.
When we started looking into online training, I realised that although it isn’t exactly a magic wand, technology could provide a much more accessible channel for all those people who have wanted to attend courses but couldn’t due to travel, budget, or time restrictions. The DPTP online courses cost less than a face-to-face course, which I am hoping means they can fit better into more restricted budgets.
They can also be done at any time (our current courses are available to students for 12 months from the date of registration), which means they have a much greater flexibility and can more easily be fitted into a tighter schedule. If your learning window is an hour a day over an extended period, then the online courses enable this to happen.
Finally, for people who are not based in the UK, for all the people who contact us from developing countries and developed countries which are so far away that traveling to London for a day or two of training is just not feasible, online courses offer a way of accessing learning that is not dependent on being in any particular place. All you need is an internet connection, and you’re up and learning.
We’ve launched our online programme with a series of courses aimed at beginner level. I hope this will help many more people to get started with digital preservation, regardless of budget, location, or other work commitments. We plan to develop the courses offered over time, and to add more expert-level courses so that students can expand their range of skills and knowledge about digital preservation along with us.
And as with our face-to-face courses, we will be listening to feedback, making improvements as we go, and working with the wider community to deliver the training people need to make digital preservation happen.
Above all, I’m looking forward to receiving an enquiry from someone who is keen to learn about digital preservation, but is unable to attend a face-to-face course, and being able to send them details of our new DPTP online programme.