Social media in the heritage sector: Edinburgh Napier prize-winning student project

Patrick Notz

Patrick Notz

At the exam boards this week it was announced that one of the projects that I supervised in 2012/13 has won the Institute of Informatics and Digital Innovation award for knowledge exchange.

The winning work examined the application of social media in the heritage sector, drawing on a case study of social media practice at the National Museum of Scotland. It was completed by final year undergraduate student Patrick Notz.

On the basis of extensive empirical work to measure the impact of the museum’s social media presences across several platforms (including Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and Flickr), Patrick was able to make a set of recommendations to help the client organisation develop its future social media provision. Patrick’s data collection activities included content analysis of output from the social media platforms, statistical analysis of user engagement with the museum’s social media output (the museum kindly gave Patrick access to some statistics, and he generated others from his own content analysis), and interviews with key museum staff. Both Patrick and I are very grateful to Hugh Wallace, Head of Digital Media at the museum (and also an Edinburgh Napier graduate) for facilitating the study.

The written report in the form of a dissertation satisfied both the client’s need for an account that would be useful in developing future strategy, and the academic requirement to situate the study within the context of the extant literature of the domain. The poster of the work submitted as part of the assessment also won the top prize at the School of Computing’s Honours project poster session in May.

Patrick Notz's posterIt is often tempting as supervisor to claim some credit for student work. However, Patrick’s tight project management over the past two semesters rendered my input to the study somewhat redundant. At the very start I helped negotiate Patrick’s access to the museum staff, but from this point on the project was very much student-driven. Patrick managed the design, implementation and evaluation of the project, and relationships with the client organisation in a very professional manner, showcasing the high calibre of our best Edinburgh Napier computing students.

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