A flowchart visually describing the GEM Core Competency Framework structure

GEM’s Core Competencies for Museum Educators: Update Project

In 2021, freelance museum educator Thomas Briggs worked with the GEM team to update the competencies, building on his own digital competencies for museum educators developed during his MA. A wide consultation took place, including a survey of sector professionals and requests for feedback from those who use the competencies most often. As the updated framework was developed it was reviewed by leaders in the sector, GEM Trustees, and GEM mentors to enhance its useability and relevant.

From GEM’s Competency Framework

Whilst working towards my PostGraduate Certificate in Digital Leadership I completed a number of projects whose themes included museum education (see some of those here). My final project focused on identifying digital skills that would be of use for people working as educators in the heritage sector, and turned out to be particularly timely: I began the project just as the UK entered its first lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic, and museum learning teams were among the first to be furloughed and therefore unable to work.

GEM had kindly supported this project, sharing my call for educators to take part and so helping me to find people who hadn’t yet been furloughed and would be willing and able to join in. A GEM trustee kindly provided feedback on the developing framework during the projects final stages.

Thanks to the pandemic my employer at the time suffered heavy losses and made 1/3 of its workforce redundant (resulting in the reduction of its Learning team by 2/3). A little while after leaving, I was contacted by GEM who were considering an update of their Core Competencies framework for Museum Educators: they knew I’d be interested as the original framework, introduced in 2015, had formed some of the inspiration for my project. The world had changed since their introduction and they recognised that they were in need of an update generally, with a particular focus on the addition of digital skills which had become much more important to the sector over the following six years.

This framework update was achieved by consultation with GEM, its trustees and other interested parties, and with GEM members who occupy a variety of museum learning roles at all levels of responsibility.

The updated framework now includes:

  • Four sections (updates of the original three plus a new one entirely focused on digital skills)
  • Multiple versions of the framework, allowing the competencies to be interacted with in different ways:
    • An updated version of the original plain-text, printable PDF
    • An interactive static spreadsheet, available in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel format
    • Versions of the above spreadsheets which have been adapted to include self-assessment features, encouraging and enabling users to track their own progress and inform future professional development

The updated framework and associated documents are available to view and download on GEM’s website’s Competency Framework page (no membership or account required).

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