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How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites?

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Data gathered from working with teachers all over the country, both on museum projects and a national digital art library pilot in K-12 schools.

Data gathered from working with teachers all over the country, both on museum projects and a national digital art library pilot in K-12 schools.

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  • Slide 1
    Let me start by saying that my observations are gathered from several years of conducting focus groups and working with teachers in the field, around Minnesota, in Boston and Baltimore, and 12 K-12 schools around the country as part of a pilot for ARTstor. These ARTstor pilot schools were studied in order to document teachers use of digital images of works of art in the classroom, and many of the digital images in ARTstor came from art museum collections. While I’ve been working with K-12 schools, teachers and students for many years, I have less experience working with museums other than art museums. Almost all of my presentation is based on working with a wide variety of K-12 teachers to implement online art museum resources in the classroom.
  • Slide 2
    Before I get into how teachers and students use museum Web sites, it’s useful to define what we mean by “use.” I have heard some museums qualify their definition of use to mean teachers using a museum Web site in the classroom with students, but it also can be argued that a teacher who gets an idea from looking at a museum Web site is still using the museum Web site, even though he or she may never return to the Web site again or direct students to the Web site. The same argument applies to a teacher who takes text, images or media from a museum Web site, and never returns to the Web site with students.
    The reasons teachers may find it difficult to return to a Web site again and again, or use a Web site with students often don’t have anything to do with the Web site, as I’ll explain in a moment. So, I would advocate for the widest definition of use possible, without being bothered by low “hits” or small statistics that normally define use of Web sites.
  • Slide 3
    The good news is that today, most teachers browse the Internet, including museum sites, looking for resources. It is hard to find a teacher anywhere who doesn’t use the Internet, if not at school then at home, to browse for resources, references or ideas.
  • Slide 4
    While all teachers browse the Internet, some teachers use the Internet as a teaching tool in their classrooms. One reason that some teachers do not use the Internet this way is simply a lack of equipment. Teachers may have a computer in their classroom connected to the Internet, but lack access to an LCD projector, or even a screen. Other teachers have no access to computer labs, or are forced to have three or four students at a time on one computer, so they’ll skip it in favor of other, more familiar and available equipment like an overhead projector. Some teachers have a computer in their classroom that’s used solely for grading, and so lack software needed to make use of Internet resources.
  • Slide 5
    Some teachers lack the technical expertise to implement online teaching strategies. If a teacher is afraid that their students know more than they do about computer hardware or software, they are often feel too intimidated to try online teaching strategies. Some teachers are the only technical resource students have, and if a student gets stuck, the teacher may not have the technical expertise to solve computer and user problems on the fly.
  • Slide 6
    Some teachers lack technical support to implement online teaching strategies. While a teacher may have the expertise to solve student and computer problems, school network issues are most likely out of their hands. Schools may block sites due to policy set by administrators, and individual teachers are often powerless to change those policies. Internet connections that aren’t dependable discourage many teachers from teaching “live” online, and broken peripheral equipment like projectors, printers and monitors often stymie teachers efforts to use technology with their students.
  • Slide 7
    Finally, teachers lack the time to develop online teaching strategies.
  • Slide 8
    Let’s unpack that “lack of time” barrier that we hear so much from teachers. First, like everyone else teachers will find the time to learn to use something they perceive as incredibly useful. They may not perceive your site as useful the first time they run across it, or the second time, but may sometime see how a museum’s online resources can be useful for their teaching, and then overcome barriers to using a museum Web site.
  • Slide 9
    Connected to this idea is the reality that while teachers say they don’t have any time, what they really mean is that teaching is an enormously complex endeavor, and trying to figure out a meaningful space to slot museum materials into is as easy as putting a camel through the eye of a needle.
  • Slide 10
    Museums can help teachers create time to learn to use online museum resources by offering teacher training courses. Teacher training gives teachers a block of time to concentrate on one set of things, and gives them time to generate ideas with each other and museum educators about how to use museum Web sites. Paying for substitute teachers is another way to create time for teachers. Many teachers aren’t willing to spend all of their evenings and weekends on professional development, and who could blame them? (Says the woman who delivered this presentation at a conference miles away from her family on Mother’s Day. But I digress.) Paying for substitute teachers gives teachers classroom time to learn about museum resources and how to use them. In other words, they are able to conduct their professional development during working hours, like so many other professions.
  • Slide 11
    Many museum resources aren’t used because teachers can’t find them. Museums, and maybe especially art museums, are notoriously bad at indexing their sites so that when teachers and students Google a keyword or phrase, the museum site in in the search returns. It’s also important to realize that many users don’t come in the front door of a Web site, and museum educators don’t always have control about what’s represented on the front door of the museum Web site. While the front door of a museum Web site may be narrow for teachers and students, museum educators can make the back door wide open by indexing and linking their resources to online searches. For procedures on this, see my blog: “How to Help Teachers Find Your Online Resources” dated May 10, 2007.
    Teachers also may have trouble finding things on museum Web sites. On ArtsConnectEd, a joint educational portal developed by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center, teachers searched for terms such as “painting” and didn’t find anything because the museum classifies paintings as “oil on canvas.” Projects such as ArtsConnectEd II (http://ace2.artsconnected.org/) and Steve (http://www.steve.museum/) that utilize Web 2.0 tools such as social tagging will no doubt offer some remedy for these problems in the future..
  • Slide 12
    Teachers never use lesson plans or other online activities as museum educators design them. Teachers almost always break these materials apart and select "pieces" that will serve their individual classroom goals. This absolutely does not mean that museums should stop putting lesson plans on their Web sites. In fact lesson plans usually follow a format teachers are comfortable with and offer easy to find ideas with along with practical information, such as materials needed. What it does mean is that museums don’t need to agonize over which lesson plan format to use, or what standards to reference, etc. Any well written, pedagogically sound lesson plan will do.
  • Slide 13
    Teacher will put materials into the hands of students if they can. The time a teacher spends considering materials, planning how to implement them and revising them to suit his or her educational goals can be relatively long. But once a teacher slots materials into their curriculum, it is a short step to handing those materials off to students. Good teachers spend an enormous amount of time revising things so that students can use them, because they know a handout with instructions and a worksheet in the hands of students is more powerful than a teacher lecturing for an hour at the front of the classroom. Museums can help teachers out by creating materials that can be handed off to students.
  • Slide 14
    Teachers view museum Web sites as authoritative sources, different from Google image search or Wikipedia. A teacher told me a story once about a middle school student who included a picture of an Egyptian pyramid in a paper, and cited the pyramid as coming from some guy’s Web site. Not the PICTURE of the pyramid, the student cited the picture as if the pyramid itself had been created by John Doe on his trip to Egypt in 1993. Teachers’ don’t have any trouble accepting material or information from students if the students can show they found it on a museum Web site.
  • Slide 15
    When musuems think of their visitors, they often think of them as repeat visitors. As a result, museums change exhibitions often and upgrade services to keep the museum fresh and to meet the needs of the repeat visitor, as well as to tell the story of the museum over time. Teachers operate in exactly the opposite paradigm using the same resources over and over as new students who have never experienced their lessons enter their classrooms each semester or year. Museums who want teachers to use their online resources have to leave them up and leave them alone, not an easy thing for many museums to do. But teachers count on resources being there over time, and if a teacher discovers that a museum’s Web site takes down or changes their online teaching resources after a year or two, that teacher will probably view the museum’s Web site as unreliable and won’t come back.
  • Slide 16
    It’s also useful to consider WHY teachers use museum Web sites, because how is constantly changing.
  • Slide 17
    According to Ferdi Serim in "NetLearning: Why Teachers Use the Internet” (Ferdi Serim and Melissa Koch, O'Reilly Publishers, June 1996) teachers use the Internet
    1. To find low-cost or free materials
    2. To connect the classroom to the larger world.
    3. To help teachers manage time more efficiently.
    4. To motivate students.
    5. To give students opportunities to learn by doing.
    6. To expand opportunities for "telementoring"
    7. To help teachers communicate, share experience and ideas with other teachers.
    8. To help bring the school and the community closer together.
    9. To help teachers spread good news about what's happening in their classrooms.
    10. To "rejuvenate" teachers' professional lives.
    Even though the tools of the Internet have changed a great deal since 1996, my guess is that Serim’s list of reasons for teachers using the Internet is still pretty accurate.

Transcript

  • 1. AAM 2007 Chicago Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Data gathered from working with teachers all over the country, both on museum projects and a national digital art library pilot in K-12 schools
  • 2. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? How do we define use?
  • 3. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Most teachers browse the Internet, including museum sites, looking for resources, references or ideas
  • 4. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Some teachers use online museum resources as a classroom teaching tool; the reasons some do not: • lack of equipment, both hardware and software
  • 5. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Some teachers use online museum resources as a classroom teaching tool; the reasons some do not: • lack of equipment, both hardware and software • lack of technical expertise to implement online teaching strategies
  • 6. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Some teachers use online museum resources as a classroom teaching tool; the reasons some do not: • lack of equipment, both hardware and software • lack of technical expertise to implement online teaching strategies • lack of technical support to implement online teaching strategies
  • 7. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Some teachers use online museum resources as a classroom teaching tool; the reasons some do not: • lack of equipment, both hardware and software • lack of technical expertise to implement online teaching strategies • lack of technical support to implement online teaching strategies • lack of time to develop online teaching strategies
  • 8. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Unpacking the “lack of time” barrier to using online museum resources: • Like everyone else, teachers will take the time to learn to use something they consider useful
  • 9. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Unpacking the “lack of time” barrier to using online museum resources: • Teachers say they don’t have any time. What they really mean is that teaching is an enormously complex endeavor, and trying to figure out a meaningful space to slot museum materials into is as easy as putting a camel through the eye of a needle.
  • 10. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Unpacking the “lack of time” barrier to using online museum resources: • Museums can help teachers create time to learn to use museum resources by offering teacher training courses and paying for substitute teachers
  • 11. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Many museum resources are not used simply because teachers cannot find them: • Can’t find them on the Web • Can’t find them on your Web site
  • 12. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Teachers never use lesson plans or other online activities as museum educators design them. Teachers almost always break these materials apart and select "pieces" that will serve their individual classroom goals.
  • 13. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Teachers will put materials into the hands of students if they can. Teachers learning to implement museum materials Teachers handing off museum materials to their students time
  • 14. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Teachers view museum Web sites as authoritative sources, different from Google image search or Wikipedia
  • 15. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Museums think of constantly changing exhibitions and upgrading services to meet the needs of the repeat visitor and to tell the story of the museum over time. Teachers use the same resources over and over as new students who have never experienced their lessons enter their classrooms each semester or year.
  • 16. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Also useful to think of WHY teachers use museum Web sites, because how is constantly changing
  • 17. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Why teachers use the Internet: 1. To find low-cost or free materials 2. To connect the classroom to the larger world. 3. To help teachers manage time more efficiently. 4. To motivate students. 5. To give students opportunities to learn by doing. 6. To expand opportunities for "telementoring" 7. To help teachers communicate, share experience and ideas with other teachers. 8. To help bring the school and the community closer together. 9. To help teachers spread good news about what's happening in their classrooms. 10. To "rejuvenate" teachers' professional lives. Adapted from Serim, Ferdi, "NetLearning: Why Teachers Use the Internet”
  • 18. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? The Walters Art Museum’s Integrating the Arts: Mummies, Manuscripts and Madonnas Proverb Manuscript Interactive
  • 19. AAM 2007 Kris Wetterlund, Sandbox Studios How Do Teachers and Students Use Museum Web Sites? Web sites referenced: ArtsConnected: www.artsconnected.org Museum-Ed: www.museum-ed.org Walter’s Art Museum Integrating the Arts: Mummies, Manuscripts and Madonnas http://www.thewalters.org/education_art/education_educati