#DML2012 – Museums as Experience Places

I’m sitting right now in a panel session on digital media creation and museums. it’s an interesting look at several institutions’ attempts to bring students into their spaces to create digital media projects. We’ve seen several examples of those projects this morning, and I wanted to get a couple of observations down before they slipped away. In no particular order:

  • There’s a recurring theme here that, if the mission “students should be making things here” is stuck to, other constraints (time, logistics, resources, etc.) can be worked through. Yeah.
  • Bringing in students to make things is a pretty simple idea, but a resonating one. How can we promote more situations like these for students? And, as I’m in a suburban and rural area, I wonder about what spaces beyond big city museums can be places for students to come into to make things with. Where can we send kids out and whom can we invite in to be in making together?
  • Panelists have mentioned that they are not fiddling with the work produced by the students. “We don’t edit the students’ projects,” one panelist said. There’s an interestingness in the idea that students can say things to museums that the museums themselves cannot say, for a variety of institutional and logistical reasons. I’m struck by the reminder of the power of an outsider voice being brought into an institution. This is a two-way thing, of course. And having outside eyes, ears, and voices in your space is a valuable way to see that which you cannot. But it requires an intentional desire to invite in outsiders. I wonder about when our schools and classrooms are inviting outsiders in, and how long they can remain outsiders.
  • I’m struck by how the constraints of design processes and museum practices are useful in design process thinking. But they’re referred to here as opportunities, rather than restrictions. This is a good example of “Yes, and” thinking. I’ll say more about that in my next play post.
  • I’ve been in several sessions so far here at the DML conference, and all of them expect too much listening from the audience. Not enough engagement. This isn’t a dig on this particular session – there’s certainly a culture to this conference and to conferences and institutional dissemination in general – but I’d like to see more doing in sessions like these, particularly as we’re talking about engagement.
  • In the Q & A, it surfaced that the students are asked to write and reflect on their work – blogging, journaling, etc. That’s really important – but it was suggested that they have trouble getting the students to engage in those tasks.1 I asked about how the museum staff working with them are surfacing and modeling their reflective practices. It seems to me that they should be writing with the students. I heard that the Smithsonian is working to digitize many of the journals and logs in their collections – looking forward to seeing those, but that’s not quite what I meant.
  • It’s fascinating to continue to think about how museums are vibrant spaces of learning and making and being together.
  1. Gever Tulley mentioned that students blog at the end of every day at his Tinkering School programs – note to myself to follow up more on that. []
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