About This Course in Digital Engagement

In 2014, the Wyncote Foundation commissioned Like, Link, Share: How cultural institutions are embracing digital technology. Like, Link, Share is a landmark study of 40 legacy cultural institutions globally who were nominated by peers as field leaders in digital technology. The report and its accompanying website identified key attributes of these leadership institutions, and resulted in invitations for conference presentations, blog postings, and speaking engagements at Board meetings, seminars, and at media and cultural sector gatherings.

From these interactions with thousands of people we learned that many organizations lack a framework for getting started in digital engagement. They have a sense that they “should be doing it” but feel overwhelmed about beginning and don’t know where to start. Out of these experiences, interacting with arts leaders, grantmakers, and artists, Wyncote decided to commission a free, on-line course that could help people get started, make progress, and learn. Our belief is that both communities and organizations will benefit from the engagement that is possible as cultural organizations and artists find each other on social platforms, develop new relationships, and work together toward an enriched inner and civic life.

About the Makers

The development of this course is a collaboration among three people: Sarah Lutman, Beck Tench, and Jessica Fiala. We were inspired by the many examples of interesting, inspiring, and surprising digital engagement we see every day as we interact personally and professionally with cultural organizations and the great people who work inside them as artists, as staff, and as volunteers.

Beck Tench is an independent educator, illustrator, storyteller, and technologist. She collaborates with organizations and individuals to create projects that amplify the authentic and necessary human elements of living and working in the world. Her role in the project is to bring her experience as an educator, a “practicer,” and as a coach for other people’s technology adoption to the content, design, and feeling of the Wanderway course.

Sarah Lutman is the principal of Lutman & Associates, a consulting and project development enterprise that collaborates with philanthropic, cultural, and public media organizations nationally.  She had the idea of creating this course, built its structure, and collaborated on its content development with Beck and Jessica, providing editorial direction and project management.

Jessica Fiala is research associate at Lutman & Associates and a dancer with the renowned Ragamala Dance, based in Minneapolis. Jessica collaborated on the design and content of Wanderway, completed the interviews that are part of the course, and helped identify ideas and examples that have made the course richer and more interesting.

About the Wyncote Foundation

This course in digital strategy and engagement was commissioned by the Philadelphia-based Wyncote Foundation and its Vice Chair, David Haas. Wyncote Foundation’s public media & journalism grantmaking works to strengthen and grow a vibrant, meaningful public media ecosystem, as a key element of the larger public sphere that enriches civic life, including parks, libraries, community colleges, land-grant universities, arts and cultural institutions, and a free press.

Wyncote supports public service media that furthers cultural and creative expression, stimulates civic engagement and discourse, and accountability journalism that provides essential information and analysis that are vital to informed communities in a democratic society.

Wyncote views “public media” as a larger ecosystem that includes legacy CPB-funded public broadcasting as well as enterprises producing and distributing public interest, educational and other mission-driven media. For background, see the Center for Media and Social Impact’s publication Public Media 2.0.

Acknowledgements and Thank Yous!

First and foremost, thanks to David Haas, Feather Houstoun, and Rachel Edelman of the Wyncote Foundation for their interest in this subject matter, their support of this project, and for their deep understanding of the role and potential for media in service to a civil and humane society.

We were deeply inspired by the organizations who participated in the development of this project, whether as interviewees, as resource people, or as other kinds of informants (including friends). For example, to develop the course, we drew on a group of 25 people who helped crowdsource our ideas and make them stronger. Other collaborators helped review the course in its beta version and gave us feedback that has strengthened the work. The organizations we’ve highlighted in our examples and interviews have been a constant source of inspiration and ideas. Their candor and their willingness to share not only their work, but the feelings behind the work, have made this project especially rewarding.

Artists and creative individuals fill our world with their passion, joy, and wonder. Pause and look, and you will experience good works wherever your concentration leads you. Through this course, we hope you connect with kindred spirits and fellow travelers, and that you’re able to join with them to spread your own good work around your community and the world.