The Hornemann Institute

Successfully Launched eLearning Course on Mould and Records

Hildesheim (GER), March 2023 - The eLearning course "Mould and Records", developed by Friederike Johanna Nithack in collaboration with Hannah Emmerich of the Hornemann Institute at the HAWK University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen in Hildesheim, was met with great interest: A total of 38 colleagues from archives, libraries, and independent conservators booked it the first time around in October 2022. They unanimously evaluated it positively, which is why Hannah Emmerich is currently translating the German course into English without any content changes.

"From the very beginning, we were very happy to have Friederike Nithack as an author," says the head of the Hornemann Institute, Dr Angela Weyer. "She had already dealt with mildew on paper and the handling of microbially contaminated records during her conservation and restoration studies here at the HAWK in Hildesheim. She had already caught my eye in the first semester with her meticulous style of work. After her Master's degree, we stayed in touch, and it became clear to me how much she enjoys imparting her knowledge with the same commitment."

But why does a young scientist decide to develop a multimedia eLearning course shortly after writing a manual on the same topic? For Friederike Nithack, her own learning experience was the deciding factor: "I myself had the experience that it was easier for me to remember things if I had worked them out and also had to think actively. The multimedia content of the course makes it easier to deal with the subject and promotes the transfer of what has been learned into practice."

Precisely because "mould" is a very current topic in conservation, she wants to address a broader target group with the eLearning course. "In this way, (prospective) conservators and other employees have the opportunity to deal with problems and possible solutions and the currently valid regulations, and then can, so to speak, interact in the "same language" with each other in the institutions. It is important to me that there is a close connection to practice and that the course is useful for everyday work," says Friederike Nithack.

Together with Hannah Emmerich, she developed the course based on knowledge of the Hornemann Institute's other multimedia eLearning courses. They largely adopted the structure of the manual for the course, but deepened the expertise in some places, such as on the topic of dealing with emergencies or prevention in general. Nithack found the development of the mini exercises after each chapter to be a particular challenge.

"It does make a difference to analyse originals during a classroom session or to recognise the characteristic features of mould online using photos. For the prevention tasks, we also thought a lot about how we could make them as practical as possible and then decided on fillable tables." For individual questions, she consulted with colleagues.

"For me, it was important to have a clear and comprehensible structure and to use the media in a didactically sensible way," adds Hannah Emmerich. "We made sure that there was something of everything that is media based: Further reading recommendations, external links to deepen a certain sub-topic, descriptive videos, and interactive illustrations that fit the topic. Friederike Nithack was able to provide much of this, some of it was already on the internet, other materials we created from scratch".

Up to now, the institute's conservators have accompanied the courses of the Hornemann Institute. Now, for the first time, there was an online consultation hour with the author herself. "It was a lot about the concrete application of what was learned in the respective practice and it was good to discuss that directly. There was also a small exchange between the participants, which I thought was very nice because many things have to be handled on a compromise basis in practice, and this gives us insights into how some problems can be solved," explains Friederike Nithack.

Before the course started, colleagues of Friederike Nithack and conservation students of the HAWK reviewed it. The last misleading formulations were identified and corrected. This paid off: 36 of the 38 participants passed the course at the first or second attempt and already hold their qualified certificate in their hands: a very good learning success. "All in all, the supervision of the participants was a pleasure. It's always exciting to have so many different professions here", summarises Hannah Emmerich, who also supervises these final tests as a tutor.

The first registrations for the English course have already been received. With the English-speaking participants from all over the world, the discussions about practical experiences will be even more lively. Friederike Nithack and Hannah Emmerich are looking forward to it.