Museums Australia Conference – Reflections from Day 4

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.

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Museums Australia Conference – Reflections from Day 3

Back at the Heath Ledger Theatre in Perth for Day 3, the program began with some very different keynotes. Firstly Andrea Witcomb discussed, from quite a philosophical platform, how immersive or interactive approaches provide reflective opportunities to build empathy of challenging topics.  Andrea used the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin as an example of a good reflective space.  She argued that these spaces are important because: visitors need the provision of some vantage point to question their own relationship to the topic.  Andrea compared these reflective spaces to role-play experiences putting the visitor in the victims place, which she thought easily became a farce and did not allow for an emotional transition.  I felt however, that it was comparing a very good immersive space example to an average role-play example.  I don’t believe it means we should dismiss role play out of hand – especially in the case of children visitors.

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Mobile Applications in Museums

One of my key areas of interest during the visits I made to museums overseas was the use of mobile applications for interpretation and engagement.  This is an emerging field with many varying levels of involvement from museums and organisations (*I use the term ‘museum’ in this article to broadly cover a wide range of cultural experiences and sites).  As I work in an outdoor museum it is something I am particularly interested in exploring as an interpretation tool in the absence of traditional labels and panels.  Therefore, while I was travelling I looked at a number of different mobile applications and considered their strengths and weaknesses from a visitor’s perspective, perhaps with a slant towards learning experiences.

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In the beginning…

It is with the view to develop a better level of competency with Web 2 applications and an deeper understanding of their potential as learning tools that I begin this blog.  Having said that, I do not forsee the posts being only about Web 2 tools.  I plan on using this as a forum for sharing thoughts and ideas about many facets of education, museums and history.

In my current work at Sovereign Hill Museums  in Australia I am looking for ways to increase student learning and engagement with the museums, and social sciences more generally.  I have recently participated in a number of Professional Development opportunities that have encouraged me to look more closely at my professional practise: both the practical implication of my pedagogy and the work I do around education resources.  These PDs include: Jamie McKenzie’s workshop Briging the Australian History Curriculum to Life, a meeting with the eLearning team at the Catholic Education Office, and just this week, two days at the Museums Australia Conference.

I am looking forward to discovering new tools, exploring new ideas, debating theories and examining practical applications in real settings.