Thursday, March 31, 2016

Finding Your Niche in the Future Learning Ecosystem

Here's my thesis: "school" needs to be radically revamped to ensure that every kid has a safe, stimulating, supportive learning environment. Note I put "school" in quotes: one big challenge to inventing a new future for education is that we're hobbled by our old vocabulary. When I talk about museums building the future of learning, I don't mean more school trips from conventional schools--I mean creating a whole new system in which museums play an integral role. One of my long-time partners in the incremental process in reshaping the landscape of education is Katherine Prince (@katprince), senior director of strategic foresight at KnowledgeWorks. In today's guest post, Katherine shares a new online tool created by KnowledgeWorks that helps us build a new  vocabulary about education--in this case, envisioning the roles that will supplement (and to some extent supplant) old-fashioned "teachers." Read the essay, take the quiz, see what role you might play in the next educational era, and think about how "museum educators" may map onto this new taxonomy. 

Imagine that the year is 2025 and you want to contribute to education or help a friend shift careers. How might you find your niche in an expanding learning ecosystem in which educator roles have diversified to reflect new kinds of learning environments and learner supports? How might a broad range of experiences and skills, many of which stretch beyond the capacities of current school- and museum-based educators, enrich learning?

VibrantED is a future recruitment platform that simulates what it might look like to connect people seeking to contribute to an expanded learning ecosystem with the latest job openings and opportunities. It includes an interactive quiz that lets you play with possibilities to relate your own aptitudes with nine educator roles. Each one is a reflection of trends shaping the future of learning and these roles illustrate what work might look like for educators in the future– and where as well as how they will do their work.

A few of those future roles seem particularly relevant to today’s museum community:
  • The site imagines that Learning Extravaganza has a one-year contract position open for an experienced pop-up reality producer to lead and manage a series of learning dynamic, pervasive learning events for the 2025 production season. The position is a full-time leadership and design role with responsibilities for planning a series of learning pop-ups in conjunction with Tucson-area media arts developers, game designers, community organizations, and cultural agencies.
  • A fictional Museum of Social Movements is seeking a director of social good to foster partnerships with other learning ecosystem organizations across the world that connect learners with existing or burgeoning social movements as part of their education.
  • Amoeba Learning is “hiring” a competency tracker to help people with great local learning experiences by finding out and evaluating what’s going on in the South San Francisco Bay region and letting people know about it. Think of this role as a regional learning DJ; the learning playlist, as comprised of a wide variety of experiences based in museums, libraries, maker spaces, local businesses, and beyond.
  • Crestwood Learning Village is an imagined custom micro-school consisting of 50 families looking for an innovative learning pathway designer to work with students aged 8-17 in curating their learning journeys. Crestwood believes in hands-on experiential learning and in extending learning through deep community relationships and co-learning opportunities and is subject-matter and grade-level agnostic.
These roles and the others on the site challenge us to suspend our assumptions about what educator roles look like and imagine new uses of human capital in education. Some of them might attract current school- or museum-based educators, while other roles might attract people from fields as diverse as the data sciences, anthropology and ethnography, neuropsychology, and media design. 

If one or more of these roles resonates with you, how might you go about developing it for yourself, your organization, or the learning ecosystem(s) in which it participates? If none of these roles appeals but the idea of creating new roles for an expanded learning ecosystem intrigues you, what alternatives might you design? In either case, what skills would you or your colleagues need to develop to leverage emerging trends to contribute to the creation of vibrant learning ecosystems for all learners?

I invite you to delve into the VibrantED simulation, to play with possibilities in the future world that it envisions, and to consider what that time in the future might mean for the strategic choices that you make today. It’s up to all of us to create the future of learning, and we’re not going to transform education without thinking anew about the ways in which adults contribute to learning.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Raw Beauty

@RawBeautyNYC  #Disability #Representation #TrendsWatch
Follow the link in the photo caption to the associated story. You can find more glimpses of the future (and links) on CFM's Pinterest Boards

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Museum Studies Programs & Tools for Creating More Inclusive Curricula

The graduates of museum studies programs are overwhelmingly white and female. If we want museums to be staffed by people who reflect the American public, we can broaden our search beyond museum studies program, and we can encourage traditional graduate programs to recruit diverse students. Today Gretchen Sorin, director and distinguished professor of the Cooperstown Graduate Program, addresses the latter approach. She maintains that students who graduate from museum programs should be equipped to create inclusive learning and work environments for diverse audiences and staff.

Professional museum conferences include plenty of talk about “diversity” and the need to cultivate new audiences, particularly people of color. Indeed this talk has been going on for decades and while some museums have embraced strategies to bring in new audiences and make their institutions truly inclusive many others have struggled. I recently listened to a very well-meaning colleague express his frustration that we really don’t talk to “them” and, he proposed that the first step to greater diversity is to find out what “they” want. I realized that despite many years in the field, I am still “them.”  We may be talking about diversity, but have not yet embraced inclusion.

As an African American professional who has worked in museums since the 1970s I chose to lead a museum studies program beginning in the 1990s to accelerate the process of making museums more inclusive by training those who enter the field. It has not been easy, but I believe that we have identified an approach that is getting some traction. Here are my recommended best practices to make museum studies programs inclusive: 

Everyone needs to learn about inclusion, not just students of color.
Create a more inclusive curriculum that makes inclusion a priority.

Every student needs to know how to create more welcoming and inclusive museums (since, as our first lady recently pointed out, many museums make people feel they “do not belong”). Courses in art history, material culture, and history, required of all students, should go beyond wealthy white culture. Courses that provide the methodology for researching and engaging different groups should not use a one and done approach, but rather provide deep knowledge and understanding of American sub-cultures and include the art and culture of the different people who inhabit this country. Teaching collections should include the objects and art of African Americans, Latin Americans, Asian Americans, Muslim Americans, and American Jews that go beyond stereotypes and tokenism. Just teaching about slavery alone or including Romare Beardon as the only black artist in a course on American art, for example is insufficient.

Cultural Competence is essential for every museum studies program.

Projects that provide experiences in audience engagement expose emerging professionals to diverse colleagues and communities. For example, this fall, nine students and three faculty members will spend an intensive week in New York City working with the Dyckman Farmhouse Alliance, the last farmhouse in Manhattan. For the last year this 18th century museum in northern Manhattan and its new Director, Meredith Horsford, have been working to develop programming to engage two constituencies, the mainstream community on one side of Broadway and the Dominican community on the other side. Students will work directly with school children and teachers, business owners, chefs, artists, and other Dominican community members to create programs related to food and nutrition, art and photography, and material culture. Team learning environments composed of students from many backgrounds engaged with multiple audiences can simulate the ideal practices of inclusive museums.  

Make space in classroom discussions for differing opinions.

Teach students how to engage in constructive dialogue about difficult topics related to race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation and provide them with practice in doing so. Developing ground rules based on the model created by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, Dr. William Walker’s guidelines and widely read blog, Class, Race, Gender@CGP helps students engage in these discussions respectfully and in ways that prevent minority students from being marginalized and afraid to offer their perspectives. Discussion rules include:
  • Use “I” statements.
  • Don’t ask anyone to represent a whole group of people.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Don’t use the discussion to air grievances not relevant to the topic.
  • Practice mindful listening.
  • Don’t be judgmental.
  • Paraphrase what others have said to clarify your understanding
  • Engage in gentle inquiry, not interrogation—ask questions to increase  your understanding 
Popularly called "CRG @ CGP," this is a screenshot of Dr. William Walker's course blog on Class, Race, and Gender. It gives CGP students a place to write about how various Class, Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Ability based topics relate their work as budding museum professionals.
Provide Scholarships that Matter
Put your money where your mouth is.

To attract minority candidates to museum studies graduate programs it is necessary to commit significant financial resources to scholarships.

Paid Internships
Numerous museums offer unpaid internships assuming they are providing an invaluable service to emerging professionals by permitting them to work at the museum or to earn college credit, which means the student is actually paying for the experience. These institutions fail to take into consideration that unpaid internships are discriminatory. Only students whose parents or family members can support their living expenses and tuition for the college credits can afford to work without pay. To even the playing field and make it possible for students with limited means to gain internship experience we started the Rural/Urban Partnership, an endowment fund, which provides a stipend for unpaid summer internships.

Provide Minority Students with plenty of support.
Minority students in museum studies programs can feel isolated and alone. “Please don’t let me be the only one,” an incoming African American student recently told me. Providing them with faculty role models and alumni mentors is essential to prepare them for a work life in institutions that may have few employees in professional positions who look like them and to provide support during graduate school. Professional and faculty mentors should check in regularly and find time for casual discussions about their concerns.  

Additional Resources:

Museums and Race:  Transformation and Justice blog:

“Like Trying to Shift an Aircraft Carrier”: Museum Association Board President Calls for Greater Diversity” by Seph Rodney

The Incluseum

Museums and Race by James Heaton

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Signs and Symbols

#DisabilityRights #accessibility @ablerism
Follow the link in the photo caption to the associated story. You can find more glimpses of the future (and links) on CFM's Pinterest Boards

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Museums and Personalized Learning

Technology is fueling personalization of products, services, communications and experiences. We explored some of the implications of this trend in TrendsWatch 2015, but the impact and potential of "personal" continues to grow, nowhere more so than in the realm of education. Personalized learning has been hailed as a solution to the "one size fits all" approach that predominates in today's classrooms, and demonized as an excuse to park children in front of computers and minimize the role of skilled teachers. What does the growing interest in personalized learning mean for museums? Ashley Weinard is in a good position to tackle that question, as an educator with  twenty years of experience in the museum field currently serving as education technology manager at The Hill Center in Durham, North Carolina. Follow Ashley and The Hill Center on Twitter!

Museums are all about celebrating the individual. Our institutions are built to share and memorialize ideas, solutions, accomplishments and works of art created by individuals over time. From my new vantage point, though, I am beginning to wonder how well we serve the diverse needs of individual museum learners. Have we mistakenly assumed that our visitors learn in the same way, clustered near a mythical average, when actually the spectrum of learning is much broader?

After 20 years of designing museum learning experiences, I stepped outside our field to work with a lab school that serves struggling learners, and found that designing personalized learning technologies gave me a new perspective on education. Even though the children I encounter all struggle, they each confront different issues. Most have a diagnosed learning disorder, but those disorders play out differently in each of their lives. Each kid receives personalized instruction, each experiences their own pacing and progress. Their accomplishments are unique. In the outside world, these children are labeled with LD (Learning Disabled) or EC (Exceptional Child) classifications. Inside my school, we call each individual learner by name.

Museums often design learning experiences based upon generalized information—age, grade-level, developmental stage, curriculum standards, and other demographics. Since we don’t often have the funding or time to build relationships with individual learners and assess their personal strengths, we construct tours, drop-in programs, and interpretive materials based on categories. For example, in many museums, learners are often randomly grouped, assigned a museum facilitator, and asked to engage with materials and activities developed for the average learner. The facilitator does his or her best to adapt the experience on the fly based on whatever information he or she can glean about the learners upon first impression. It’s a tough job. How often are we left at the end of the experience wondering, “Did anyone get anything out of that?”

Dr. Todd Rose, Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education Program at Harvard University and President of the Center for Individual Opportunity says, “if we have designed learning environments [or experiences] based on average, the odds are we have designed them for nobody.” Diverse learning styles and variability are the norm today, not the exception. Rose refutes the “Myth of Average” by explaining that all learners have what he calls a jagged learning profile, an individualized mix of strengths and challenges. No one fits easily into categories like struggling, normal, gifted. We must admit, embrace, and celebrate the fact that each of us is all of those.

So if designing to the average is not productive, how can museums begin to design for the individual learner? The National Center for Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides some helpful recommendations. Their suggestions are based on predictable dimensions, rather than individual need. These dimensions outline differences in the ways learners:
  • Represent information.
  • Engage with material.
  • Act upon material and show what they know.
UDL’s three dimensions of variability can be used as guide to help us create a more multi-sensory approach to content, develop a broader set of engagement strategies for each learning experience, and expand our expectations for how learners will respond.

CAST, a non-profit researching and advancing universal design for learning, has gone further to develop research-based guidelines and checkpoints for these dimensions of variability, which we can use as a tool to assess current museum learning environments and experiences and help design for future flexibility.

Thanks to new research and toolkits like these, we can begin to predict and plan for learner variability. However, for museums to be truly welcoming of all learners we have to be able to respond to their needs in the moment, as well. What more do we need to know about our learners in order to meet them where they are? How will we adapt our museum programming and spaces so we can be that nimble? Given the limits of the museum, how responsive and personal can we actually become?

We can take some cues from adaptive learning, a developing technology that delivers individualized instruction based on the learner’s progress, needs, and preference. Adaptive technology responds to learners in real time by:
  • Changing content.
  • Changing assessment.
  • Changing the sequencing of the material.
This type of technology puts learners in control of their learning path. They set personal goals and then their actions and responses determine what they see and learn next. These tools use predictive analytics to continuously collect data, analyze it, and adjust the sequencing of skills or content for that individual. The tools use that same data to improve the product for the next learner.

One might say this is not all that different from how museum educators and facilitators interact with museum learners now. (Think back to that facilitator I described adapting on the fly.) However, I think it is different in two critically important ways. The first distinction is that adaptive learning requires the facilitator to let go of control. The learning process--and sometimes even the outcome--is determined by the learner, not the facilitator. We can create a rich array of content and plan for all imaginable pathways, but each learner’s choice and progress along that path will be unpredictable. And, that might be ok.

The second distinction is that individual learner data is continuously collected and analyzed. Next steps along the path are not based on a set of assumptions or cues. They are determined by learner actions which have been carefully captured, reviewed, and acted upon in real-time.

There are technological tools on the horizon that will help us to respond to and design for learners in the museum environment. But even now, the concepts and routines of universal design and adaptive learning can be applied and help us rethink and improve our practices today. Why wait? It’s time for museums to create our own solutions for supporting and celebrating the individual.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Futurist Friday: Inventing the Edge-y Workplace

One of the themes I explore in TrendsWatch 2016 is the way cultural, economic and technological forces rapidly transforming the way we work. Our infrastructure, for the most part, hasn't caught up. Here's one workplace that has: Deloitte's headquarters in Amsterdam, dubbed "The Edge."

And the building is indeed on the cutting edge--harnessing technology to create a green, flexible workplace. Every light fixture is an internet-connected data hub, making the building the ultimate application of the Internet of Things to customize their work day. The eco-friendly Edge features beehive towers and bat homes, uber-green design and custom security robots. But the most progressive elements, in terms of the work experience, are designed to create a flexible, personalized and comfortable experience. "Hot desking" enables employees to choose a workspace that fits their needs, and also enables the building to accommodate far more people than it could if it provided traditionally assigned desks and offices. The app that interfaces with the building systems enables employees to personalize their lighting, synch their hand held devices with any available screen, even order dinner ingredients before they head home.

Your Futurist Friday assignment, watch this 4 1/2 minute video profiling the Edge

Spend a few minutes thinking about how you would redesign your workplace to be more green, more worker-friendly, and more productive. (And please, share your thoughts in the comment section, below!)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tools for Exploring the Future

This post is one of a series highlighting insights, recommendations and resources from TrendsWatch 2016, the latest edition of CFM's annual forecasting report. Download your free PDF copy here

It may provoke some giggles that TrendsWatch, a born-digital publication focused on the future, is also produced on old-fashioned paper*, but in truth the reports of the death of print publications are exaggeratedEngaging with a 3-D paper object is different, and in some ways richer, than digital reading. 

But digital offers its own advantages--such as the ability to embed links. Downloading the PDF version of TrendsWatch enables you to click through to the stories that informed my thinking, and back up my arguments. (Think of them as a digital, streamlined version of footnotes.) 

However, I know not everyone will click through the many, many links embedded in TrendsWatch, so I'm going to periodically highlight some of the associated stories and resources here on the Blog.

To start with an easy, addictive win (I hope), today I'll point you to some online resources that let you calculate, play with and manipulate information. Think of them as a loftier version of the Fbook quizzes which some people are unable to resist.  (You know who you are.) Here are two I particularly enjoyed testing while I worked on the report:

The ROI Calculator from Delivering Happiness. As I note in the report's introduction, this year's trends form an overlapping Venn diagram. For example: the chapters on Labor and Happiness both touch on the increasing number of companies consciously cultivating employee happiness. Personally, I believe in a pragmatic approach to social change. It's great when other people embrace your values, but if they hop on the bandwagon because it is in their self-interest, well, that works too. Changing behavioral norms (whatever the underlying motivation) eventually shifts cultural standards. In this case, some CEOs embrace employee happiness as a metric of success because they believe, philosophically, that it's the right thing to do. This ROI calculator from Delivering Happiness helps make the case that investing in happiness improves the financial bottom line as well. Can you resist seeing how much your organization might save by cultivating happiness at work? Of course, the staff at Delivering Happiness are using the calculator to market their services--but that doesn't mean they are wrong. And they present information on how they arrived at their estimates. Even if you're skeptical, questioning their numbers can prompt you to think more deeply about the potential ROI of happiness in the workplace.

The Business Case for a Happy Workforce

The OECD Better Life Index is another online tool I came across in the course of investigating non-financial metrics of success. Created by the the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, this index is part of OECD's multi-dimensional approach to measuring economic performance and social progress.  Their online Index prompts you to input how you would weigh factors like income, jobs, housing, education, life-satisfaction and work-life balance in assessing a country's "productivity." (According to OECD, I should admire the success of Australia, Denmark and Norway.) Playing with this index is a good way to explore your own value system, and how you might go about designing metrics that reflect more than a country's economic output--or, by extension, that of your community. Which prompts a question to guide your museum's strategic planning: how does your organization contribute to these measures of success? 

And here is a third resource, one I did not include in the report, but highly recommend. It can support exploration of one of the most important challenges facing museums is building a diverse workforce (as I mention in the TW16 chapter on labor). One significant barrier to building a diverse staff is hiring bias. As HR specialists point out, when it comes to fair recruitment practices, it helps to be aware of one's own unconscious biases. This self-knowledge won't guarantee you can banish bias from your hiring decisions, but it helps. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Teach Tolerance project offers a number of online Hidden Bias Tests. You may find your results both sobering and enlightening. 

And please--drop me a note, or post in the comment section below, to share other online tools that address happiness, or progressive labor practices, or any of the other topics covered in TrendsWatch

*I just sent the page proofs for TrendsWatch off to the print, and the report should be available from the AAM Bookstore in a few weeks. You will be able to order copies online or pick up a copy at the AAM annual meeting here in DC this May.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Beats x Visor = Stylish VR

#VirtualReality #Glyph @Avegant @GeordiLaforge

Follow the link in the photo caption to the associated story. You can find more glimpses of the future (and links) on CFM's Pinterest Boards

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Questions about the Future of Learning and Education

“What if we said to children, ‘You can learn however you want, wherever you want to, with whom ever you want to?’” –education activist Nikhil Goyal

“Don't try to fix the students, fix ourselves first. The good teacher makes the poor student good and the good student superior. When our students fail, we, as teachers, too, have failed.” –educator and school founder Marva Collins

 “Our dreams drive us forward. Museums accomplish wonderful things in society, but a billion learners—that’s the kind of dream we need to have.” –Michael Edson, Director of Web and new media, Smithsonian Institution
Hi, Sylvea here…
Our Education Future Fiction Challenge closed at midnight last night, and I'm eager to share some highlights!
As you may recall, back in December we started blogging about CFM's Future Fiction challenge, inviting people to contribute their vision of an educational future for the US that included museums at its core. We were confident that your creative writing pieces—and photos, videos and drawings—could help museums prepare to play a new and bigger role in American education.

The Challenge submissions--over seventy of them--are going up on the CFM microsite devoted to the future of education, and we will continue continue to share selected essays in Future Fiction Friday posts here on the blog. These essays provide tremendous insights into how various people think about museums and P-K learning. Not only have you helped us envision many potential futures of education, but many of your stories reflect a keen awareness that contemporary issues in education that, if not tackled now, will create even more serious challenges later.

Many of your submissions explore the particular experience of individual student learners, the role of educators, and the changing learning landscape (will there be schools, desks, physical classrooms?) in 2040. Collectively, the essays address (directly, or indirectly) the following themes and yield thoughtful questions for our field as well as for the advocates of P-12 education reform:

  • Alternative Assessments—How can we evaluate students in ways other than standardized tests? What does it mean to create greater opportunities for assessing students beyond traditional frameworks? How can we ensure that the quality of student education remains a priority while also removing methods that do not assess student's ability to learn—like standardized testing.
  • Community Engagement—What role should community members play in P-12 learning and how? What does it mean to engage community members is the educational process? How can/do museums help facilitate such partnerships?
  • Cooperative Learning—What types of outcomes and products can students create when they work collaboratively? What new skills do students learn while working on projects with others and in what ways does this method lend itself to also helping to prepare young people for life outside of the traditional classroom. If, we do not have classrooms in the future, what are ways that students can still learn from their peers?
  • Education Equity—What does it mean to create equitable opportunities for students and whose responsibility is it to seek such a standard for student learning? Why does education equity matter and what role might/will museums play in such conversations?
  • Education Technology—What aspects of students’, educators’, and parents’ relationship to technology will truly be transformative to the education process? How will these new technologies shape student (and teacher) learning, assessment, and engagement with peers? How can we ensure that these new innovations enhance opportunities for all students, rather than deepen gulfs in access? Where are the best contemporary examples of such work?
  • Future Educators—What should be the role of educators in the future? What characteristics of good teaching are timeless and critical to keep? How will the changes in the administration and orientation of P-12 education affect the future work of educators? What role should teachers play in shaping conversations about student learning? How will contemporary policy conversations about educators shape this profession? What role should museums play in professional development of future educators?
  • Hands-on Learning—How will makerspaces, innovation labs, and other dynamic locations shape the future of learning? What methods best allow students to lead while learning in those places? How can we ensure that all students develop confidence, while also learning to embrace questions in such environments?
  • STEAM—What future themes/topics might we find most likely to create the best opportunities for students interested in collaborations between Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics fields? How might STEAM be considered an answer to parents (and community members) concerned by the current process of student tracking in some school districts—and the question of whether funneling students through non-voluntary based education tracks  inhibits their access to a more vibrant (diverse) learning grid? How can museums help facilitate such projects in the future?
  • Personalized Learning—What aspects of contemporary innovations in personalized learning are scalable? What might that look like in the future? How can we encourage students to think about personalized learning in a way that helps them learn how to articulate their strengths? How can we ensure that students also develop “grit”—that skill of resiliency that comes, in part from working through obstacles?  
  • Soft Skills—What types student work lends itself best to developing soft skills—or helping students learn more about their communication skills, habits, social graces, and/or ability to work with other people?
    I hope the essays resulting from CFM's Education Future Fiction Challenge (and/or these questions) prompt you to share current museum projects that address these challenges, and illustrate bits of these potential futures that exist today. Email me: if you are interested in sharing such work via a guest post on this Blog.

    Next steps for us: convening our review panel to read all the essays, announcing the Education Future Fiction winners and continuing to mine the submissions and share what we have learned.

    You can read stories about the future of education (with museums in a starring role), over on the CFM Future of Education websiteIn addition to hosting entries to the challenge (as we process them) as well as sample stories by invited authors, the site compiles and shares the best future-of-education resources we can find from across the web. We hope you will make that site your go-to resource for the future of education.

    Friday, March 11, 2016

    Experiencing History in 2040

    Hi--Sylvea here. We have learned so much about your visions for the future of P-12 learning! 

    As our call for submissions with the Education Future Fiction Challenge draws to a close (Reminder: official deadline is 3/14/2016) we leave you with a captivating story about what happens when a young girl visits a museum with her grandfather in 2040. 

    How do their differences shape their experiences in the museum and why? 

    How is the young girl's thinking about museums transformed by what she learns inside?

    Read on....

    Thursday, March 10, 2016

    Learning through Play: Exhibition Developers and PreK-12 School Partnerships

    CFM's report Building the Future of Education envisions a future in which museums are integral parts of a distributed network of resources that support all learners. We are continually on the hunt for fragments of that future that exist in the present, and today exhibit developer Steve Whitt tells us about one such predictive project: a partnership between Roto, the design/build firm where he works on exhibit development, and the local Dublin City Schools. Roto's story demonstrates that the future learning grid can be beneficial for all parties--students bring value to the relationship as well. And it also reminds us that the resources spawned by museums reach beyond museums themselves: in this case, to the outsourced labor of exhibit development. You can follow  Roto and Dublin City Schools (including Dublin City Schools STEM Program) on Twitter to keep an eye on this project.

    As both a designer and builder of interactive museum exhibits, Roto’s work covers the full spectrum of development activities. Informal and qualitative testing has long been a part of our standard practice, but we’ve now formed a unique partnership with our local school district, Dublin City Schools, to not only bolster our testing program but also to form a mutually beneficial partnership with the community.

    Image Credit: Roto
    This partnership includes Roto staff volunteering in Dublin classrooms on select days as part of the district’s broad STEM initiatives, as well as mentoring and advising Dublin teachers and students via teleconference.  Roto has invited both educator and student organizations to utilize our facilities for conferences and workshops, and we have participated (as a member of the STEM community) in career days and mentorship programs.

    We’ve now begun hosting entire classes from Dublin Schools at Roto for a combination of exhibit/gallery testing and STEM enrichment. When Roto identifies a testing need, we contact Dublin’s STEM coordinator with date, grade level, and number of classes desired. Those teachers interested in participating submit their names for a lottery drawing (there are always more interested teachers than spots available). Roto even offers a stipend to cover transportation costs, often one of the greatest obstacles to class field trips.

    Dublin students help Roto test exhibits and ideas at every stage of the design process. Some testing involves brainstorming and giving valuable age-specific feedback on early exhibit concepts. Other sessions focus on “paper testing” of interactives in the pre-construction stages of development to discover obstacles to effective learning early on. Nearly-finished exhibits and functional prototypes undergo informal and qualitative testing to investigate ergonomic, programming, and signage issues.

    In addition to exhibit testing, Dublin students also participate in interactive presentations with members of Roto’s design, engineering, and fabrication teams where students get hands-on experience with the tools and techniques Roto uses every day. Classroom teachers are regularly share with Roto the class’ goals and course of study; from this information we identify the experiences that can most benefit the class during their visit.

    Our testing day also features a tour of Roto, during which students are able to observe employees applying a diverse array of skills. As a design-build firm, Roto’s team includes not only engineers, craftsmen, artists, and designers, but also writers, teachers, project managers and “business people.”  Near the end of our time together, all students and testers gather together to ask one another questions and reflect on the experience. One of the most intriguing moments occurs when a student asks the inevitable question, “How do you get to work at Roto?” The students are often surprised at the diverse backgrounds and fields of study represented by in the work of exhibition design and building.

    Image Credit: Roto
    Our partnership with Dublin City Schools also extends well beyond Roto’s needs for exhibit prototyping and testing. Last school year, for instance, we assisted students at Eli Pinney Elementary with a playground improvement project. This year Roto is assisting that same school with a project in which students are building their own science demonstrations to help teach younger students about sound and light. As part of this program, the entire Eli Pinney 5th grade has visited Roto for a testing program, one class at a time. Dan Lowe, one of the fifth grade teachers at Pinney, said, “Through experiencing, hands-on, what the experts at Roto do, my students have gained real world knowledge of how their creativity, perseverance and problem solving skills can be put to work in and out of the classroom.” Andy Hatton, Dublin’s Director of STEM Curriculum, adds, “We are truly proud and honored by the partnership we have with Roto - a world class company right here in Dublin, OH that is not only willing, but actively seeking ways in which to partner with our learners at all levels.”

    The impact on Dublin students can be seen in their genuine excitement and authentic investment in their learning experience, as seen in this music video created by 4th graders at Riverside Elementary.

    Roto is excited to continue our relationship with Dublin City Schools. While the original impetus for the program was simply to formalize exhibit evaluation practices that had grown organically, it is the strong alignment with our organizational mission to the goals of informal learning in all its forms that fuels our continued commitment.

    Wednesday, March 9, 2016

    Capture the Flag: the struggle over identity and representation

    #TrendsWatch 2016, artist @GynoStar
    @BreeNewsome #TakeDownTheFlag

    Follow the link in the photo caption to the associated story. You can find more glimpses of the future (and links) on CFM's Pinterest Boards

    Tuesday, March 8, 2016

    Labor 3.0: Museums and Co-working Spaces

    Finding a stable business model for museums in the 21st century is going to take more than patching the old income streams. The goals and expectations of government funding and philanthropy are changing, and there’s more competition for traditional earned income streams. To regain our financial footing, museums need more than a better restaurant and a new travel program: we need new ways to embed ourselves in the economy. What could that look like? Well, in TrendsWatch 2014 I highlighted one example: the way in which the New Museum is capitalizing on the reputation of the museum, its connections, expertise and its aura of “cool” to create a business accelerator-cum-co-working space called New, Inc. That business model looked so promising I’ve been waiting for other museums to give it a try—and two years later my wait is over. In this week’s guest post Katrina Sedgwick, Director and CEO of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image tells us about her museum’s foray into the accelerator/co-working world. Follow ACMI on Twitter!

    Three weeks ago, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Federation Square, Melbourne – the world’s most visited museum of the moving image - announced a second site. ACMI X is the first collaborative working space for the creative industries set up by a major cultural institution in Australia.

    Rendering of co-working office space at ACMI X 

    ACMI X is a 2000sqm office space, designed by award winning architects Six Degrees, that will not only house eighty of ACMI’s programming and operational staff but also will establish a 60 seat co-working studio. Located in the heart of Melbourne’s flourishing Southbank arts precinct it will also host the Melbourne offices of the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) and the Australian International Documentary Conference.

    ACMI X is a new type of co-working community, one that unites start-ups and practitioners from across the creative industries alongside a renowned cultural institution committed to redefining the role of the museum in the 21st Century by exploring the possibilities that lie at the intersection of culture, technology and entrepreneurship.

    When it opens in late April, ACMI X will house a cross disciplinary community – from filmmakers to tech startups, from games developers to artists working with the moving image, to app developers, graphic designers, theatre makers, VR and AR producers to script writers. Entry is by application. These diverse businesses and practices will be housed inside our office space – working alongside our team daily.

    Why did we do it?

    ACMI was established 13 years ago. Seemingly ahead of its time back then, ACMI celebrates the moving image across its myriad forms – film, television, games, visual art (and increasingly across the performing arts) and digital culture. We host a dynamic year round program for over 1.2 million visitors annually including exhibitions, screenings, talks and workshops, an education program for more than 70,000 children each year. We look after and increasingly share our collection and that of the National Film & Sound Archive through our Australian Mediatheque. Essentially we have a broad and distinctive brief – one that spans the now oft labeled ‘creative industries’ – and sometimes it’s been hard to explain to our audiences and to industry what we do. We are seeking to find new ways to demonstrate and support this breadth of practice and content.

    The moving image has become ubiquitous, particularly with the arrival of the smart phone and tablet. Furthermore, digital technologies have made sophisticated moving image production tools affordable for artists across the spectrum, boundaries are rapidly blurring.

    Audiences too are rapidly evolving – they aren’t so interested in traditional definitions – film/television/visual art - they’re interested in the story and how they can engage with it, through whatever device is available to them. This too offers creatives and businesses new opportunities.

    Arts forms are merging, platforms are rapidly evolving, businesses and practitioners can collaborate in ways previously unimagined. Traditional ‘siloes’ are being broken down. And in the context of a museum of the moving image that’s a very exciting thing for us and for our audiences.

    But the reality of this collaborative potential can only be realized by enabling proximity. We all naturally sit within our own bubbles. How can ACMI enable the conversations – often spontaneous and informal – to occur, to nurture this collaborative and creative cross disciplinary potential? And how can we harness this energy and inspire our own working practices and programming.

    Since we were established in 2003, we’ve not been able to fit all of our staff on site at our museum. Eighty people, including all of our curatorial and programming staff, have been based in an office that spanned over three floors. Our organization was physically silo’ed. I joined ACMI as Director CEO last year and wanted to find new ways to work together as we re-imagined what a 21st Century museum could be.

    In a wonderful piece of timing, our office rental lease was up after a decade. Instead of being trapped within a physical structure that limited our options, we had the rare opportunity to move – and to find a new space big enough to expand our footprint on a single level.

    We took this opportunity to extend our open plan footprint to 2000 square meters, moving into a building owned by the Australian Ballet, adjacent to the National Gallery of Victoria, Arts Centre Melbourne, The Melbourne Recital Centre, the Victorian College for the Arts (Melbourne University) and others.

    Rendering of central social hub at ACMI X

    ACMI X features open plan offices for our staff, for the small team of the AIDC, and for the 10 local staff of the NFSA with whom we are developing a truly participatory and shared archive in coming years. It dedicates 300 sqm to the 60 desks of the co-workers. Dotted throughout the office footprint are six formal meeting rooms, a dozen informal meeting spaces, and a library area complete with reading nooks. We also have a central social hub with a large kitchen, café with banquet seating, and arcade games. By day it’s a meeting place, by night it becomes an event space for up to 100 people – for pitching sessions, meet ups, and for our industry events program. Permanent desks are $600/month and come with Aarnet – an internet that works at enormous speeds with the capacity to transport large datasets across the globe. We are also establishing an industry membership program at $30/month, enabling access to ACMI membership benefits, the ACMI X membership program and the opportunity to hire a hot desk for on a daily basis.

    For ACMI, ACMI X enables us to leverage our considerable resources back into the sector. It enables a space where proximity engenders spontaneous and accidental conversation – for our staff and for the ACMI X tenants. It may not be that we will collaborate, or that our tenants are necessarily going to make work together but we are going to be sharing ideas, and exploring new ways of working. It enables us to build a community of industry around our museum. It also enables rich partnerships with universities and their post grad students across multiple disciplines and faculties. And it enables deep and dynamic partnerships with donors and the private sector.

    ACMI also has 1.2 million visitors through our doors each year. ACMI X creates a pathway for practitioners to access our audience during the process of making work. Say for example you are a games developer – how fabulous to be able to access our audience during the beta testing phase of your work. And our audiences are hungry to be a part of the process.

    A 21st century museum model is about enabling audiences to access and explore the creative process; it’s a two way conversation - not just about showing the final object. ACMI is eager to support and collaborate in the making of work throughout the journey and to make this accessible and transparent.

    Since ACMI X was announced we have been flooded with enquiries. We move in March 21 and begin to welcome our tenants starting mid-April. It’s a bold experiment for us but already we can see the benefits of opening our doors and embracing industry.

    Friday, March 4, 2016

    9/11/2040: A Future Lesson About the Past

    Hi, Sylvea here… we move into the last couple weeks of our Education Future Fiction Challenge I hope that many of you are still developing your submissions ;-). Not sure where to start? Read some of our Future Fiction Friday posts and visit previous stories on our Ed Challenge website.

    Caitlin Norem is a Production Assistant with Balance Studios, Inc. Her entry imagines how students in 2040 will learn about 9/11. The students in Caitlin’s story experience a highly interactive lesson plan including a “360 learning” interactive with augmented reality (honestly, a great fit for the week considering Elizabeth's work on museums and augmented tech in the TrendsWatch 2016 launched this past Tuesday), a museum exhibition tour, and visits from people with important 9/11 stories. They learn how 9/11 forever changed life for people in the US and also its varied meaning for people around the world.

    Caitlin places museums and their communities at the center of student learning. Young people in her story demonstrate active listening and critical thinking while working collaboratively on their group presentations. Are you curious about how the story ends? Read on….

    The anniversary of my father’s death has always been a difficult one for me. Most years, I take off of work and take a vacation to avoid the constant pain of everyone remembering such a terrible day. I still remember it clearly. It was a Tuesday. I was sitting in my 6th grade social studies class, attempting to not fall asleep as my teacher read through a PowerPoint on the War of 1812. She had printed the slides out for us to follow along and I was doodling instead of taking notes.

    The principal came over the PA System, requesting all teachers come to the office to pick up the school newspaper to hand out. I thought it was strange, as usually the school newspaper was given out on Fridays, but I just turned around and started talking with my best friend. A few minutes later, our teacher returned, trying to hide the tears streaming down her face. Everyone began talking at once, “Did you get fired?” “What’s wrong?” She couldn’t even speak as she turned on the TV and turned on CNN. I glanced at the clock; it was 8:55 am. Class was supposed to end in a few minutes.

    Why would she turn on the TV now? I was about to raise my hand and then I saw it.

    One of the World Trade Center buildings had been hit by a plane. The word terrorist kept appearing on screen and I was in shock. Terrorism? In the United States? I raised my hand again,demanding more information that I wasn’t sure even our teacher had. Then the principal came over the PA system again. She explained that we would not be switching classes at 9:00 am and we would be watching the news until further notice. A plane had been hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center. We sat and watched as the news reported the same thing over and over again. Then the second plane hit and my world changed forever. My father had left on a business trip and was on United Airlines Flight 175.

    I forced myself back to the moment as my daughter laughed excitedly with her classmates. My Isla was now the same age as I was when I experienced 9/11. Although I would do anything for her,today was going to be a difficult day.It was a Tuesday again, 39 years later, and I was about to
    experience the story of 9/11 as I never had before. I was stuck leading the lesson because of my experience with the day. My participation on the course board made me the perfect candidate.

    The public school system had certainly changed since I was in 6th grade. Back then, we rode the bus to school, toting a 20 pound backpack, full of books. We sat in class all day and rarely got to experience field trips. When we did get to go out, it was usually to some boring museum where you couldn’t touch anything, take any pictures, and you followed your guide as they droned on about the Ottoman Empire or why the buffalo became endangered. Now, most children went to their neighborhood school, which was an education concept in which the community supported and encouraged education. Adults with experience or training in areas were encouraged to volunteer for course boards or to teach the optional courses, such as sustainable farming, robotics, naturopathy, and other specialized courses. There was no such thing as a traditional learning environment anymore.

    While all children had to learn specific things to pass the test that would allow them to enter the next grade, education was focused on playing to each person’s strengths. Being able to nurture my Isla’s love of gardening, while also letting her explore basic engineering was such an amazing option.

    On top of the community collectively offering courses for neighborhood school children, the neighborhood school offered weekly trips to our public museums as an option for certain lesson plans.

    With the help of technology, exhibits have been able to lessen their footprint within a museum and allow for increased hands-on learning. Today, Isla and 4 of her classmates were having history class at the Park Place Public Museum. One of the other girl’s mother and I were in charge of class today.

    As we entered the museum, we saw another group of Isla’s classmates, preparing for Chinese language class. Several years ago, someone finally decided that a full immersion was the best way for children to learn a language. Unfortunately, sending my 6th grader off to Beijing for a 3 month immersion was not my favorite idea. So museums, such as Park Place and the National Museum of China, have conversation rooms that allow students from one country to speak with another country’s to better understand how a language is spoken. The time difference means that it is usually early morning or night time when the students get to speak with their Chinese teachers. Being in the conversation rooms freaked me out a little. A 360º interactive room makes me a little dizzy, but Isla loves it and is getting high marks in both Chinese and Spanish language courses.

    “Mom, class started two minutes ago!” I hear Isla yell for me as she and her classmates head towards the history wing at the museum. As I enter the wing, I see the digital sign showing the moment I was dreading. The 9/11 exhibit: The Day That Changed America. As I finally catch up to the girls, I see them put on their Edu-vision Glasses. The Edu-vision Glass was introduced to schools to hopefully prevent children from accessing inappropriate material from their personal 20/20 Glasses. I personally, feel they should just add a school mode into the 20/20 Glasses that has to be activated during courses.

    These glasses have come a long way since the invention, and failure, of the Google Glass. I wear mine all day. I can select Focus mode, that does not allow any digital information to intrude on my time, or turn on the full interface, accessing local information, such as the Yellow Page listings that appear while walking around town, or visit my ProfilAR account that is practically everyone’s go to network. ProfilAR integrates several social media accounts, email, phone contacts, notes, and more. It has access to hundreds of App integrations that help you create a completely customized space. It senses both eye movements and gestures so I can scroll through pages of information with a flick of my finger. I tap the side of my 20/20 Glasses to turn on the digital UI and I see the girls all have logged in to their Edu-Vision account and are ready to take notes on this exhibit.

    “So, what you are about to experience is a look into the September 11th attacks and the effect it had on both the United States and the World. Does everyone have their History App open in their Glasses?” I see 5 heads nod and continue. “Remember to stay near the group. You can activate the exhibit and begin.”

    One by one, the girls look at the main poster for exhibit. I also glance at the poster and begin the experience. The poster acts as an image target and the Park Place Museum App loads. With the option to start the self guided mode or be guided by path, I remind the girls that we need to explore paths one and two before going into self-guided mode. The first path explores the events of the 9/11 from the American perspective. An overlay appears over the miniature replica, showing the path of each plane impact. I have the option to hear stories from survivors of the attack and refuse. I hear Isla gasp loudly. When I find her, she is staring at a piece of the rubble from the Twin Towers. I go over to see what she is experiencing and she is watching a video clip of people jumping from the building and the buildings’collapse after being invaded by fire for over an hour.

    “Mom, was Grandpa in the tower?” I shook my head and responded “He was on the second plane that hit.” Isla looked back at the rubble and struggled to hold back tears. I encouraged her to move to the next station, where I knew she would see the information about the different planes, with family member recounting their final calls with their loved ones on the plane.

    Isla quickly moves to the next display. I know she didn’t want to learn more about the immediate events after the attack -- from President Bush’s choice to continue reading the story to the firefighters’ efforts to save as many people as possible, with many sacrificing their lives.
    Path 1 experiences tear at my heart, as I try not to break down in front of the girls. As they finish Path 1, Path 2 listings begin. Focusing on how the attacks affected the world, Path 2 explained how this attack wasn’t just on Americans and it began the joint effort of the world’s forces against ISIS. As I notice the girls completing their guided tour, I force myself to regain composure and gather the group to discuss the lesson plan.

    “Girls, please turn on the self-guided option. We will be revisiting some of the stations again. Each of you will need to pick a specific topic to present on. You can focus on whatever you choose, but it must include references from the exhibit pieces you have experienced today.”

    As we return to the first display, where the attack is recreated, I explain, “I was in class, just like you are, when the planes hit. Our teacher turned on the television to have us watch the news updating the situation. Can you imagine not having instant video chat with someone you think is hurt, simply because the signal is down? For hours, no one could get through to anyone in New York City. We had to sit and wait for the media to share something that would help us understand. Isla’s grandfather, my father, was on the second plane that was flown into the tower.” I could feel my tears welling up in my eyes.

    “While we are here to understand history, the most important history lesson is to remember that one single person’s choice can affect the entire world. Whether it is a Caesar conquering cities for Rome, an explorer claiming new lands from the natives, or terrorist hating the idea of freedom so much that they hijacked planes to make Americans feel scared, it starts with one small choice.”

    The rest of the lesson time was for the girls to begin gathering content from the exhibit for their presentations. I took off my 20/20 Glass and sat on a nearby bench. The other mother sat down next to me. “Can you believe just two decades ago, all of this information would have been skipped over? Videos would play on a distant screen, while we look at artifacts and pictures. Now the girls can truly
    understand, feel, and relate to these stories.”

    I looked between her and the girls. “I know. They are my hope for the future. Museums have the power to help people care about these stories that happened almost 40 years ago. I just wish we had this growing up. We missed so much because we couldn’t connect with it.”

    I turned as Isla came up to me. “Mom? Did you really see the plane hit?” I nodded. “When we get home can you tell me your story too?” I fought tears back as I nodded again. She had never asked me to learn more. Coming to the museum, even on a Tuesday, was worth it. It has changed my