Saturday, November 24, 2007

Education sector and museum domain workshop

Attended this roundtable today organised by the Le@rning Federation through the Curriculum Corporation. Was a large gathering of museum representatives and folks from various education domains. Really productive discussion and I learned lots about how different education domains access content through their own learning portals. This presents issues for institutions who may need to get their content accepted by a huge range of education jurisdictions, not only the state system but providers like the Catholic Education system. It was interesting to hear from Charles Morgan from Tasmania who described how the learning objects are actually used in the classroom, and this brought alive the TLF process to me. Tim Hart from Museum Victoria raised incredibly important issues around museum and digitisation and working with organisations like TLF. The points I took away were:

  • Museums need to standardise process in order to play together in the digital space (what a great quote!)
  • How much have museums learned about what they're doing online?
  • Too focused on creating physical exhibitions (I may have put my own bias on this comment, don't know if that's what he actually said!)
  • Currently we all go it alone too much
  • We are at a point where we can combine resources for people to access online – for example why not a search that throws back an artwork, an object, a book, a piece of ephemera, and archival film and so on across all our collections?

To me the issue of metadata and standards are the most critical one facing the sector. When I raised the issue of how the various domains will deal with the future of the web and social networks and the way students learn and interact in the future, I found out that this actually won't be a problem as long as the metadata is right – we need to be able to map a common authentification according to Seb (I don't know what that really means but I'm sure someone's onto it!).

The wrap-up of the workshop was asking for one salient point from each working group. These were (from my perspective):

  • Uncoordinated, ad hoc and disparate nature of what's out there – infrastructure, content, uses of material, therefore need system to facilitate sharing of resources
  • Utilises Web 2.0 tools, enable museum staff to interact with users and facilitate teachers and students able to tell their own stories and interpretations of objects
  • How to deal with the richness and vastness of the data, complications of findings and searching
  • Multiplicity of portals, brokerage arrangements makes for unnecessary levels of complication – need a national shared portal
  • Students want to be producers and creators using the resources of museums and tool s of Web 2.0 while still tied to curriculum outcomes and assessment
  • Sustainable process for cultural institutions to develop their own content for teachers in the future
  • Sustainability will need to come through collaboration
  • New signposts and new directions – look at the national statements of learning as a starting point? New roles and ways of learning – how to resource? How to digitise? How to prioritise? What are the measures of success? Where will mobile technologies fit?

Afternoon was a symposium. First paper Pedagogy and digital content: findings from three years evaluation of TLF online curriculum content by Professor Peter Freebody, University of Sydney. His report will be on TLF website end of the month. Key points for me that are relevant to what the Museum's doing:

  • Effective ICT use and integration: committed leadership to here and now and building up of skills over time; a champion; growing social networks of people working together without having to blaze the trail themselves; a working plan that involved personnel and resources; well-directed and high quality resources; lot of old pedagogies going on around new technologies
  • One finding from school visits was that often school leaders deal with procedural issues rather than curriculum issues (this is very relevant – focusing on process over what you're actually there to be doing...)

Several niggles I had – I didn't get a sense of what the actual experience of teachers and students were? The processes of evaluation, while I accept they need to be long-term and rigorous have the potential to be left behind –by the time you've disseminated the findings the audience has actually move on. I also have problems with language used around "mature" users and waiting – I think this is rather paternalistic – who's to define what mature practice is? It needs to be end-user defined, not defined by the researcher?? Guess I'll need to read the report.

Professor Stephen Heppell
Transforming practice – what (else) does it take? Points:

  • Writing policies can't keep up with the pace of change
  • Now we have lots of social space and social spaces to put stuff, we have mashups that join things together
  • The gadgets have real scale, globality and ubiquity (the iTouch is a good example)
  • Question – what haven't we got that learning needs? We haven't got identity; we haven't got time; no certainty of longevity; ability to annotate as you go; narrative layers and ability to link/join threads together (shiftspace is starting to do threading)
  • There is not a shortage of content anymore – the world is awash with good stuff, but would be better if could thread them together, annotate them, narrate them
  • We are in a learning age (not an information or knowledge age – that's already there) – what a great opportunity!
  • Asked children what does being literate mean? Answer manage a community in Facebook; upload a video to YouTube; edit a Wikipedia entry; choose a safe online payment site; subscribe to a podcast; turn predictive text on/off on a fone; manage a group's Flickr account; vote in an online poll; comment on a concern site
  • The death of education and the dawn of learning – all the boxes and rigidity are going. Judgements will be made by the learner in future

This was one of the most stimulating, fun and useful talks about the future of the web I have ever heard I must say. There was so much more he said that I haven't blogged about but I will be incorporating them into a paper I'm writing about the organisational change process in museums through the implementation of Web 2.0.


seb chan said...

Students want to be producers and creators using the resources of museums and tool s of Web 2.0 while still tied to curriculum outcomes and assessment

Hi Lynda

I heard this slightly differently. That TEACHERS want the museum resources tied to curriculum outcomes - which is sensible. But students want to use museum resources in much looser ways - grabbing a social history image from a museum website out of context to use in a science project for example.

This sort of repurposing is made really difficult in traditional museum web projects with their overemphasis on narrative. This emphasis no doubt flows on from the exhibition world and traditional ideas around 'storytelling' - all of which are really important, but not necessarily representative of how younger audiences pick and choose across the web.

LyndaK said...

oops, yes, you're right - thanks for the clarification. We will be talking to a bunch of students in detail next week about these issues at our e-kids' college so be interesting to get their perspectives. Too often do adults think they know what kids want!

LyndaK said...

I also came across an online version of the slides Stepehn showed about the trends for 21st century learners which are very relevant to museums. I'll also trawl his site to try and find the curve things he showed on how the web goes through cycles of development, takeup and then uncertainty. I guess the take-home message for me after discussing these ideas with another colleague is that there are two more cycles of change that will occur just in our own working lifetimes.