Museums and 21st Century Learners

In November 2013, I presented at the Museum Computer Network conference about helping museums learn to meet the changing learning for 21st century learners. My panel colleague is Darren Milligan of the Smithsonian.

I’m posting this not so you watch but so I can find this video easily as it is a handy reference for my work. (I mostly reference Darren’s talk, not mine!)

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Kids don’t hate history, they hate the way we teach it

Wow — an excellent post on the state of history education today. As a professional historian and a history-museum-educator, we see this when visitors  talk about how they hated history in high school, but love learning about history in our museums and historic sites. Why? Because we tell stories. We make it relevant, real and human. History isn’t about filling in bubbles on a test.

Thanks, History Tech, and Thanks, Indiana Jen for reblogging it so I saw it.

History Tech

About 15 years ago, I had the chance to drive James Loewen around for a couple of days. He was in town for a two day workshop and afterwards had to get to Kansas City for a flight. As his chauffeur, I got the chance to pepper him with all sorts of questions. And much of what I wanted to know revolved around his most recent book at the time, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.

I was especially curious about the first few sentences in the book:

High school students hate history. When they list their favorite subjects, history always comes in last. They consider it “the most irrelevant” of 21 school subjects, not applicable to life today. “Boring” is the adjective they apply to it. When they can, they avoid it . . .

Once I got him started, Loewen went…

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7. Take Credit

Following up in my recent post about Changemakers, I have been trying to view my work and schools frustrations through that lens. It has been a game changer for me, definitely for the positive.

A quick example happened in a meeting the other day when there was discussion about using a technology tool to deliver a specific set of programs. The program manager was very excited to step into this new delivery model, and expressed it as idea his team had developed.

This concept was, in fact, an idea I’d been pushing for at least three years. I’ve brought it up in meetings and in conversations, I’ve demonstrated it by showing it used by others, and modeled the technique with unrelated content. At first I was MIFFED and wanting to jump out of my chair saying FINALLY, that was my idea!! I then thought about the Changemaker concepts and realized that we were at #7 (for this particular idea) where they take the credit. I was thrilled. It’s working. It’s slow, painful and frustrating. But maybe it’s working.

I was excited to see this blog post from Indiana Jen about online and interactive museums for two reasons:

  1.  It’s what I do with my life! I work at a museum, and my work is all about bringing the collections, content, experience of the museum to schools, teachers and students through a digital experience. Museums have a wealth of resources and the digital tools now available mean we can empower educators to use the content in ways that best serve students. Or – students can be empowered to learn on their own.
  2.  I am giving a talk at a local college about this very topic, how museums can impact K-12 education through technology and 21st century skills. This is a great reference from the teaching world. Thanks, Jen!

Indiana Jen

Very few educators can take their class, hope on an airplane, skirt through customs, and visit the Hague. Here is a brief list of great museums that have wonderful online exhibits that can help to bring the museum and its contents to your students. This list is hardly all inclusive, please add your own!!

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum – The purpose of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial is to record the events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to educate the populace about the horrors of nuclear warfare. The powerful museum has numerous online exhibits, videos, images, lesson plans, and more.

National Museum of Australia – One of the largest and most expansive museums in the world, the National Museum of Australia highlights the Natural Sciences, the Indigenous Peoples of Australia, and Art from around the world. Selected exhibits have interactive online components.

Anne Frank Museum – the online Anne Frank…

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