“Digital Learning” in Museums: New or Passing Trend?

I am currently out in the Midwest, attending the MCN conference in Minneapolis. It’s my first time at MCN and I look forward to discovering in person all the great things I’ve heard.

I’ll be presenting this afternoon (details here) with some wonderful colleagues – Eve Gaus, Digital Learning Manager, The Field Museum; Heather Schneider, Assistant Director of Learning Programs, John G. Shedd Aquarium; and Jennifer Sly, Museum Education and Technology Specialist, Minnesota Historical Society.

We’ve avoided a prepared presentation so we can simply discuss in more informal manner the session’s topic: “Digital Learning” in Museums: New or Passing Trend?

If our conversation is as dynamic and interesting as our pre-session meetings, we’re going to have a blast. I hope you can join us.

Below is the official program description:

Many museums have formed “Digital Learning” departments within their institution. Managers of new and more established digital learning groups at four museums, the American Museum of Natural History, the John G. Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and the Minnesota Historical Society, will explore the goals of forming these groups.

Questions explored will be: What IS “Digital Learning”? Why form a “Digital Learning” department? What advantages to such groups provide to museums and their audiences? How do these groups fit within their larger institutions?The panel will explore how new “digital learning” experiences actually use “digital” components to extend and connect with the physical. Examples include using the virtual to bridge two different physical locations such as museum spaces and the classroom. The digital is also used to connect people traditionally inaccessible to each other bridging content experts to students, creating citizen scientists. Or, how digital design and 3D printers can create physical objects.

Ultimately, the group will explore how the digital and the physical combine to create 21st century learning experiences for young people and people of all ages.

Postscript: The presentation has concluded, and it WAS a blast.  You can view the presentation deck here.

About Barry

The Associate Director For Digital Learning, Youth Initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History.
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3 Responses to “Digital Learning” in Museums: New or Passing Trend?

  1. Roger Brown says:

    This session gets to the heart of what we do and I’m sorry I can’t attend.

    We see digital learning disrupting many traditional environments and providing fine opportunities to reach distant students or those with different learning skills and talents. We’ve just created a digital high school and college history textbook designed to make learning a more immersive exploration and not just a long slog through hundreds of pages of text and facts. It is bringing history alive, not only broadening a user’s experience by being able to present more points of view in more lively ways, but also capturing the interests of hard-to-reach students living in distant, small towns and pueblos or those lacking traditional study skills.

    That said, it is a fast changing technology and while few know where it is headed, it will only increase the needs and opportunities for digital learning. For a glimpse at this, I invite you to see Eli Kuskanski’s fine presentation with David Robinson of the National WWII Museum, “Museums Without Borders.” https://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/key/aZWULcV7OZjTcA

    Might you send me the power points or other content info?

    Have a great session today.

    Roger Brown
    Trillium Productions LLC

  2. Roger Brown says:

    Thanks. I’m glad to hear it was a great session. I’ve downloaded the deck, which is but a faint shadow of the live event but is still informative. I’d enjoy staying in touch with you all. I’ll follow you on this site. Please copy me, if you remember and it is appropriate, on other items about this subject.

    Thanks and have a good weekend.


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