Principles and Practices of Digitisation Workshop

This workshop on the Principles and Practices of Digitisation has the goal of introducing you to the world of digitisation using the Digital Heritage Framework. The focus is on the entire spectrum of digitisation from initial conception, strategising, preparation, and through to eventual usage and publishing your collections online.

Within this workshop we translate these Principles into Practical activities that are required to meet your digitisation programmes.

We adopt the position that EVERY heritage institution must make the transition into digital – and thus to increasingly become a “Digital Institution”.  We also recommend that each institution should commence this transition as soon as possible in order to improve relevance in a fast-changing digital world, and to mitigate the risk of becoming increasingly irrelevant as people turn to the Web more than physical visits.

One attribute of this transition is that digital skills, including competency in the digitisation of collections, are an essential core skill set of the museum professional. However, the digitisation of existing collections is only one element of becoming a Digital Institution, and within the scope of this workshop we introduce the full range of activities required to help you strategise, plan, and commence your own digitisation projects.

Motivation: The transition to the “Digital Institution”

The world of heritage is changing rapidly. There is a shift into digital technologies that requires all heritage institutions to adapt or to be left behind. Whereas there will always be an important place for the continued development and preservation of physical collections, it is the balance between these physical collections and the new digital collections which must be understood in the context of a well-defined vision of the future of the institution. This transition to the digital institution is today’s key question and it is no longer a matter of whether, but rather when, this transition should be done, and also a question of how fast you are able to adapt. Thus adapting to the opportunities offered by digital technologies is a key factors that all heritage organisations must consider in evaluating the risks associated with remaining relevant in a rapidly changing world.

One of our roles is to help and to guide heritage organisations through this transition. We are uniquely placed to be able to help you with our many years of professional engagement in ICT, heritage, digitisation and project management.

The Digital Heritage Framework

We have developed a framework for the migration to the digital institution, which we call the “Digital Heritage Framework”. This framework consists of principles, participants, processes, practices, problems, and products which integrate into a digital future for your organisation. This framework was also used as the basis for the “Digital Heritage Body of Knowledge” (DHBOK), which we have created over the past few years, and which we are continuing to improve. This Digital Heritage Framework is primarily process-based, and uses the “Ten Process” model which we developed some years ago, and which we have refined over time to better meet the needs of the practical adoption of a digital culture in heritage organisations. We have introduced many institutions to this process model over the past few years, and it is encouraging that others are adopting this, and also using this model in conference papers.

The Digital Heritage Framework serves the purpose of providing a backdrop against which to plan and to measure progress in building up the digital institution, and one of the key elements of this framework is that in order to create a digital institution out of your physical institution you will need to create digital objects.

The Ten Process model reflects the complete life cycle of the move to the digital institution, including the core activities which create and manage digital content. These Ten Processes are clearly identified from each other and each is defined in terms of its inputs, outputs, actions, standards and roles.

  • Scoping: understanding where you are, where you want to be (the digital institution), and the gaps between where you are and where you want to be.
  • Strategising: formulating a plan of action to fill the gaps identified in Scoping, expressed in terms of Programmes and Projects, and encompassing the building of capacity (skills, equipment, facilities, standards).
  • Planning: planning each programme and project individually, using formal project management techniques.
  • Preparing: commencing a project including identifying the particular skills, facilities and equipment to use, making all pre-project decisions on standards, practices and workshops, deciding on the handling of objects, as well as on the naming and storing of digital objects.
  • Capturing: capturing the digital content using any means of digitisation or the handling of born-digital objects, including photography, scanning, audio recording, video recording, and all forms of reformatting of older formats into newer formats.
  • Describing: providing for all metadata to be added to the digital objects to support their provenance, and to contextualise them to fully document them and to provide aids to future finding.
  • Loading: pushing the digital objects and their metadata up to corporate or shared repositories to provide for preservation and access. The loading process needs to also assure proof of delivery and to provide a unique persistent identifier which will stay with this digital object for its entire lifetime, perhaps for 500 years into the future.
  • Storing: the long-term storage is managed by repositories of various forms, which will naturally change in the future as technology advances. These repositories are the places where all digital content is held and organised, and where rights are managed, and which also provide the basis for access by the users.
  • Accessing: providing access to digital resources is a key element of a digital system. This access can be provided by the special-purpose aggregators who combine digital content from many organisations to provide a single access point, or may be your own organisations web site as the primary access point.
  • Using: the digital content can be used for a variety of products, and licensing is required to enable all forms of use, including the free and fair use of open content.

When put together, these Ten Processes form a solid basis for managing your transition into the Digital Institution of your future.

Topics to be covered

  • The Digital Heritage Framework
  • How to develop effective digitisation strategies
  • Management of digitisation initiatives
  • The essentials of capturing and managing digital objects
  • Metadata management
  • Developing sustainable digital repositories and providing online access
  • How to control usage of digitised material
  • From a practical perspective we explore elements of scanning and audio-visual conversions, and discuss plans for the development of digital repositories.


This course is run over 1 or 2 days, and is priced at R1450 (excl. VAT) per person per day. This includes a course pack,  DVD with additional materials and handouts.

Comments from workshop participants:

“Informative and can be applicable to top management in museums”
Lebogang Nyenye (Dept. Sports, Arts, Culture & Recreation)

 “The workshop activities were informative and interesting, certainly help to recognise how much more needs to be thought about”
Amy Goodenough (National English Literary Museum)

“It was very interesting and useful”
Crystal Warren (National English Literary Museum)

 “Excellent Workshop! Wish we had it much sooner. Thank you Roger and Tammy for two super informative days!”
Maryna Venter (North West University Archives and Museums)

Contact us for bookings or more information:

Roger Layton :