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Teaching Museums and Technology

In a few weeks, I begin teaching Museums and Technology (I’m not the only IMA instructor this fall – my colleague, blogger and conservator,  Richard McCoy is also teaching -  Collections Care and Management with Jennifer Mikulay).  Museums and Technology is run through IUPUI Museum Studies and will feature 18 or so, up and coming undergrad and graduate students.  They will one day enter the museum community with their own ideas, theories and philosophies.  I’m actually excited to learn from them.  The class itself is a different story, and for the sake of clarity, here is the official class description:

MSTD A414 / A514: Museums and Technology (3 cr.) This course surveys the growing use of technology in museums. It examines applications for information management in collections, conservation science, and archives. It examines critically the use of technology in the service of education both in exhibit contexts and in the variety of educational programs and web-based dissemination of knowledge.

(I would normally put an image here, but I don’t have a good one.  Instead I’m going to plug our latest video, a trailer for our next major exhibition Sacred Spain: Art & Belief in the Spanish World).

Back to the real point of this post.

I’m working on the syllabus as we speak.  For some time, I’ve been mulling over the basic shell of the class and now is the time for action.  I’ve had plenty of ideas revolving around case studies, online publications, blogs, videos, and much much more.  But mostly, I’ve been struggling finding an acceptable balance between theory and execution.  I have respect for both sides, but I would definitely characterize myself as an implementer.  In plenty of blog posts I’ve mentioned launching or publishing incomplete projects (or rather, works in progress) and tried to communicate that mistakes happen, and it will be okay.  So I think one of my challenges will be finding the right balance between the two and communicating that effectively.

Without giving too much away, I do want to share some of the approaches I will be using in this class -

  • Readings – online articles, publications, blog posts, tweets, you name it…
  • Digital Case Studies – Online exhibitions, Web sites, blogs, Flickr, Twitter, videos, and more
  • Usability Analysis – How well do some museum produced digital projects work?
  • Live manifestation of class work (whatever that means) – something along the lines of what Nina Simon did for her Social Technology class.
  • Guest appearances – Kind of like Arrested Development, but featuring experts from the field of Museums and Technology and content specialists from the IMA
  • A Real Project – Students will create digital content proposals for a major upcoming IMA initiative.  If selected, students will get to work directly on that project, publish it and receive full credit for their concept.
  • Internship! – That’s right, one lucky student gets to intern at IMA’s Nugget Factory (New Media).  Kind of like a reality show.

So, I’ve really not given anything away.  But if you think there is one site, article, video or project out there I MUST cover, please let me know. And, Museum Studies students, museum colleagues, blog readers, tweeters, and more – anything you’d like to add?

Filed under: New Media, Technology

9 Responses to “Teaching Museums and Technology”

  • avatar
    Emily Says:

    This is going to be AWESOME! Also, free parking.

  • avatar
    Bonnie C. Says:

    Looking forward to this class! I know virtually NOTHING about technology (ha!) so hopefully this will be a huge learning experience for me. And yes, free parking is a perk!

  • avatar
    Sarah Says:

    Sounds like a good syllabus so far! I’d also suggest working with other departments. Many of the students (and as a student, I can say this) will come into this with two thoughts – Technology=website or tech=databases. When in reality, there are few areas of a museum not impacted by technology. Encourage students to look at how marketing, retail, operations, security, education, development, collections, etc use technology and how they COULD use it. I wish I were taking the course, but alas, I already have my 3 credits for it! :) Good luck and have fun!!

  • avatar
    Jenny Mikulay Says:

    Fun to learn about your plans–don’t forget to make it all lots of fun!!

  • avatar
    kathi Says:

    I taught at Butler University for 8 years and found guest speakers to be golden. Students enjoy the entertainment value of having different points of view all the time, and it allowed them to gather a rolodex of names in the industry for future job/internship seeking. We are a community rich in culture, at differing levels of technological advancement, so I think there are many points of view you could include.

  • avatar
    Daniel Says:

    Thank you to everyone for your comments and input. I’ll definitely take everything into consideration, and importantly, have fun.

  • avatar
    Katie Says:

    I’m pretty sure I’m taking this class, guess I should figure that out soon. Anyway, I thought I would let you know that there’s a web forum called Museum3.0, and while I just joined earlier in the summer so am pretty new to it, the group may be an interesting discussion topic for the class- connecting museum enthusiasts across the globe via internet and seeing what virtual discussions are being held through the site.

  • avatar
    Adrianne Says:

    Definitely include as much real-world exposure as possible! Also examining how to gain support (moral & material) for the technology within the museum itself would be invaluable, as typically that is the first roadblock you encounter.

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