Digital Learning in Museums Snapshot – April, 2013

Last month I realized I had NO IDEA what was actually going on in museum education programs around the country. Is everyone teaching youth how to design games but no one is teaching them how to use a mobile app? Or is it the other way around? Everyone is talking about digital badging systems, but is anyone actually using one? I wanted to know and I figured I was not alone.

To find out, I posted a survey on the ASTC listserv, which is primarily focused on science and technology centers. And, professionally, that is where Natural History museums find ourselves, even though our focus differs. This was NOT a formal study. I invited people to post anonymously (only I would know their name and institution and I invited them to let me know if I could share their examples and/or that they even participated) and to do so informally – no need to spend weeks kicking it up their chain of command or run it through their communications department. So this is just an informal snapshot of how things might look around the country.

So here you have it, the April 2013 Mooshme Digital Learning in Museums Snapshot:

30 institutions were included in the final count (I did not count those who did not give me their name and deleted duplicates when more than one person submitted for the same institution). Half identified as science or technology centers, 5 as Natural History museums, 4 as children or youth museums, followed by one each from an assortment of others (aquarium, history museum, nature center, planetarium, and zoo). They came from 21 states/territories and included: Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, Orlando Science Center, Chattahoochee Nature Center, Adler Planetarium, The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Dean, SEE Science Center, New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science, Children’s Library Discovery Center, COSI, Children’s Museum of Houston, Teknikens Hus, and Ontario Science Centre.

For all of the categories below, there were more than four dozen examples explaining in a sentence or two what exact program the museum was currently doing in each area. This helped me to insure we were all speaking the same language – by and large the program descriptions matched my understanding of the question. However, most requested I not share them, so you’ll have to trust me.

Without any further ado, the results:

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How does your institution compare with the results of this survey? Where are you an innovator? Where do you see new opportunities?

About Barry

The Associate Director For Digital Learning, Youth Initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History.
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