Without a doubt, the blog I look forward to reading most is Nina Simon’s Museum 2.0. Much of the content does not seem relevant to an archaeological or history museum or for our medium-smallish size museum. But a lot of what I get from Nina’s blog is like my coursework in linguistics as an undergraduate – it’s just good to think and often applicable in surprising ways. I get that some of our reluctance to fully engage with the potential of Web 2.0 is lack of knowledge. I recollect in 1995 only 2 of the 10 facutly members in the Anthropology Department where I was adjuncting had email. One prof still insisted on typing his manuscripts on his IBM Selectric. But when he found out that, via the internet, he could get daily newspapers from Mexico City, his research area, the typewriter went into storage. So, if you are just sticking your toe in the water, let me give you a couple of examples from the Museum 2.0 blog that might get you to take the plunge:
Nina also writes a column for Museum, the magazine of the American Association of Museums and is currently completing a book on the participatory museum experience.
What are your experiences with Web 2.0 when it comes to Public Outreach?
The Louisiana Division of Archaeology has long been a leader in Public Outreach and Education in Archaeology. Their website hosts a tremendous list of resources. For example, one of their recent publications Poverty Point Expeditions , is a classroom workbook and available online from the Division. Written by educator Debbie Buco, the workbook uses archaeology based at the Poverty Point site for lesson plans in a wide range of subject areas including natural and social sciences and the humanities. The lesson plans are complete with step-by-step instructions, worksheets, materials and time estimates needed for completing the projects. Each lesson is tied to the Louisiana State Curriculum Standards. Over the past several years, the Division also produced the books Classroom Archaeology (Middle School), Adventures in Classroom Archaeology (K-12), and a picture book for elementary school children Louisiana Indians from Long Ago.
The Louisiana Division of Archaeology is also a leader in creating virtual on-line versions of all their books and pamphlets. Perhaps most exciting is the recently published Indians Mounds of Northeast Louisiana: A Driving Trail Guide. The guide can be downloaded as a pdf file. The culmination of an eight-year project, the guide contains 4 driving trails in the northeast quarter of the state that lead visitors to several dozen publicly visible prehistoric earthwork sites. Each site is described through a topographic map, cultural affiliation, and other pertinent information. The Guide provides the public with an understanding of the regional significance, accomplishment, and legacy of American Indians for the past 5000 years. The conical and flat top mounds that dot the Louisiana landscape take on added meaning as a cultural resource truly worthy of preservation.
The Louisiana Division of Archaeology website also includes information on Archaeoloigy Month programs, traveling exhibits, the preservation of cultural resources, the Regional and Station Archaeology Programs, and links to numerous other sites of archaeological, Native American, and preservation interests.
The publications listed above may also be ordered directly through the Division by completing this form
One of my favorite websites to find good things to think about is at the Center for the Future of Museums. Of most utility is the email Dispatches from the Center for Museums you can subscribe to and receive weekly updates.
So what have they got? Each Dispatch contains links to a dozen or so different articles or websites that stimulate thinking out how we will carry our missions into the future. Things I read in the recent Dispatch that were relevant or “good to think” for me around issues of Public Outreach and Education included:
- America’s Information Consumption Soars – Article in the San Francisco Chronicle – I found this interesting in demonstrating that the actual amount of information we receive today is dramatically increased with digital technologies. How do we mesh our public outreach with the way folks are receiving this information today? This all reminds me of a free webinar I listened to earlier this year on the AAM website that dealt with Gaming and Museums. The basic thesis was that if we could get youth (and others) to invest the amount of time currently spent in gaming for pleasure on gaming for social good, then the sky is the limit . . .
- Ten Crucial Consumer Trends for 2010 – from the website trendwatching.com – A list and discussion of trends, about half of which I found good to think about, such as: Business as Usual – How the end of the Recession will not bring about a return to the past; Real Time Reviews – How the good and bad of what we do in our presentaiton and events is judged by the visitor and immediately spread through digital media to the world; and how digital interactions can ultimately be turned into real time interactions – certainly a goal we wish to move toward in Public Outreach efforts
- The Use of Handheld Guides in Museums – from Learning Times – I really enjoyed this piece. The handheld/audio tour is an issue we continue to grapple with at the C.H. Nash Museum. We take up at what point are we pushing more interacivity on our visitors than they want? How do we balance different visitor learning styles?
All this and more comes once a week to your in box.
What other tools do you use to find ideas that are “good to think” about for Public Outreach?