Education in Museums – Reflections from Museums Australia Conference
Last week at the Museums Australia conference in Adelaide there were a number of presenters that spoke about Museum Education (broadly referring to museums, galleries, libraries, zoos, historic sites etc.) – about engaging school audiences. Despite being an Museum Educator myself, I intentionally did not go to all education-related presentations, with the aim of looking more a the big picture of what is happening in Museums. However I did go to a number of Education streams, particularly on the first day of the conference. From these presentations I came to some general thoughts and conclusions about what is happening in our sector…
Digital Learning Resources – Engaging Learners
Late last year I undertook research on behalf of Sovereign Hill to explore some of the contemporary theory and practice in the use of Digital Learning Resources in schools and museums.
Mobile Devices for Learning on Excursion
Mobile devices have great potential to transform the excursion experience of students, making it more relevant, personalised and richly informative. Traditional museums are sometimes limited to panels and labels for providing information and context to their collections, while outdoor museums, like Sovereign Hill, are sometimes limited by the absence of explicit information on panels and labels. While museums are engaging in innovative and enriching interpretation techniques on top of this, mobile devices offer a broader, and simultaneously more explicit, interpretation experience.
Historical Fiction – making history fun
Working in history education is great fun, especially at a place like Sovereign Hill. I ended up working in this field, I believe, largely because of my love of reading and watching historical fiction. I have not trained as a historian or a conservator, but I like to think of myself as having a little bit of both inside. But I’m not a purist. I love history for the fun, fascinating stories about the past. I find the most pleasure in the creative imagination that comes from thinking about history’s people and their deeds.
Sure, evidence is important (and archaelogy is cool, especially when it involves Tony Robinson!) and teaching kids to read and understand sources is a necessary part of history teaching. But it’s the stories that make it amazing and joyful.
The last day at the MA and IA conference began with another contrasting mix of keynote speakers. First was Professor Ross Gibson who talked about the power of art to transform a person and the importance of considering emotions and aesthetics when planning exhibition to encourage this transformation. I understood the ideas he expressed and I have seen the power an aesthetically thoughtful space can provide, but I thought the ideas were possibly over-analytical for a good portion of the audience and that some practical suggestions could have made the information more useful.
This week I’m fortunate enough to be attending the Museums Australia and Interpretation Australia Conference – At The Frontier – in Perth. I am enjoying taking the time-out to think broadly, be inspired, meet new people and collect new ideas and understandings.
The day started with a very moving Welcome to Country by two local indigenous men Richard and Trevor. It was presented bilingually and made the delegates feel truly welcome. I found it very uplifting and a great way to start the conference.