From the Museum to the Classroom: Designing and Evaluating Online Resources for Educators

Ashley Weinard, Eduseum Consulting, USA, Stephanie Pau, Jeanine Ancelet, Audience Focus Inc, USA, Lisa Mazzola, The Museum of Modern Art, USA

Teachers, in all their diversity, represent a uniquely engaged group of museum and web users. These lifelong learners look to museum collections and web sites for professional and personal enrichment and inspiration, and as places where they can reflect and share their thoughts and ideas with other learners and communities. Meanwhile, they are always thinking of how to adapt and apply their own learning and life experiences to meet the needs of their students and school communities. They are ideal web users–searching, filtering, synthesizing, and using content and ideas they glean from trusted sources. Highly engaged teachers have the potential to act as a museum’s best advocate. Yet, they can be one of the most difficult audiences to design for since they have limited time, seek easily-transferable information, and prefer browsing over content creation.

Museum educators and evaluators from the Museum of Modern Art and the North Carolina Museum of Art will address the ways they are meeting the needs of this particular audience online through their award-winning sites MoMA Learning, ArtNC, and other online initiatives. The vision, outcomes, design process and evaluation strategy for each site will be shared through a discussion framed by questions, such as: What are the unique needs and characteristics of this audience? How can museums design quality resources that meet teachers’ needs as both classroom instructors and lifelong learners? How are teachers using these resources and how can current use inform future design? How can attributes of this audience and teacher web resources influence online museum offerings for other audiences?

This forum will encourage participants to share their own solutions to these questions, as well as generate additional questions for exploration. Time will also be given to collectively brainstorming new approaches to extending the unique characteristics and perceived benefits of teacher resources to broader audiences.

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