Thursday, June 26, 2008

Learning in Museums Seminar 2008: Technology, Interpretation and Learning in Museums

Last week I attended AAM's LiM seminar in Minneapolis. The two-day event was well worth it.

Topics explored included but not limited to, audio and cell phone tours, blogs, Web 2.0, interpretive planning, social networking and web-based communities for learning, digital learning games...etc.

I enjoyed the mix of participants, many of whom I've never met (not like I know everyone but when you go to conferences and workshops you end up seeing the usual suspects). I was surprised to see such a diverse age range represented, you could tell the age of participants by their questions and "cyberspace," who uses that anymore? - But more power to them for stepping out of their comfort zone to learn something new.

Listening to where other institutions are with technology and new media provided some perspective. Sometimes it is good to know we all struggle with the idea of giving up control when it comes to user-generated content.

If I could plug one book explored during the seminar it would be, The Digital Museum: A Think Guide, edited by Herminia Din and Phyllis Hecht. Many of the chapters' authors were part of the seminar, the content of the book is totally relevant to museums today.

Anyways, I should end this stream of conscience with questions... Did anyone attend LiM? If so, what are your thoughts? Where is your institution when it comes to technology? Are you meeting advancement with resistance from other colleagues?


Anonymous said...

I just found this blog and think it's great - as a museum professional that has worked at two large museum institutions on the east coast and volunteered at two other museums, I did run into problems when suggesting we increase the use of IT in our department.

I'm not an expert at all in IT (business major undergrad, pursuing master's in arts administration come fall) -- when my machine makes a weird sound, I'm definitely the first one on the phone with the help desk! -- but these were basic things - I found that there was a since of not upsetting the status quo at these institutions.

To be fair, however, the institutions "as a whole" were on the forefront of using technology when compared with other museums.

But it is sometimes more important to start at the department level (what your department can add to the "whole", use of databases, electronic filing, etc.) which really depends on the managers of those departments.

Overall, I think it's just a generational gap. For our younger generation, we have grown up using IT our entire lives, and it's second nature. For older generations, they need to see how it can benefit the museum, and that sometimes take convincing and/or time.

At the end of the day, I think a lot of headway is being made.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this information. I'm an interpretive facility manager and wish to add a computer station at our informaiton desk. With many maps, resources and information on our agency's web site, I want to make that readily accessable to visitors. However, it's very hard to justify increased computer equipment. I need some good solid research or justification to back up my request. Any thoughts? Feel free to contact me at

Lauren said...

I hope that YMP will put an update following the AAM annual conference. I've enjoyed reading this blog and have missed its updates. I just put some quick thoughts about AAM on the Jewish Museum of Maryland blog ( but I'll be curious to see what you all have to say. Thank you!