Comments Brendapaper fromRuth by icf1n7h


									Ruth’s comments on Brenda’s paper.

Brenda’s focus in this paper is on museums as a site of teaching and
learning about history. As she notes, museums have tremendous
potential to teach history in different ways than those easily available in
the classroom; but:

“ I am often at a loss to understand how the use of the public history
museum as an educational site reverts back to a didactic transmission of
knowledge even when the institution itself is utilizing various
technologies and with the students being engaged with social media
beyond the museum.”

She hypothesizes that museums fail to engage with different methods of
teaching because
1) museums want to be recognized for their broad educational mission,
and using conservative but well known methods is the best way of
ensuring that and
2) the objects of the museum, instead of opening up playful methods of
interpretation and analysis, tends to fall back on a view that is history is
a fixed commodity or thing that is a fixed site of knowledge; somewhat
ironically then, the objects in the museum become symbols of the
authoritarian reification of history rather than complex sites at which
playful interpretive acts can be performed.

Brenda draws on research that she did with a group of grade 8 students
engaged in an exhibition at the National Museum of American History
in Washington, DC The Price of Freedom: Americans at War – to
explore and question the ways in which museums use technology and
educates school children. This was a research project wherein history
students were asked to create a video ‘mash up’ and provide some
reflection on their experience. Their experience was well scaffolded by
the teacher beforehand, which Brenda also observed, where they used
“google and google maps, digital collections from museums and
archives, youtube videos, flickr, for example – to gain information that
would inform their mash-up videos of the role of museums in
constructing a particular identity.

“When questioned by the museum personnel about their lack of
engagement with the various technologies incorporated into the exhibit
itself, the students cogently argued that the digital media within the
exhibit may reflect the wider developments occurring within the
museum in order to bring in the youth audience (which it is assumed
such technologies would be a draw for the particular exhibit), yet did not
specifically contribute to furthering their knowledge….the museum
exhibit did not provided opportunity for students to utilize technology on
their own terms within the exhibit space. The technologies used were as
didactic and directed as any of the objects, text panels, and labels. ….
Their shared understanding of interacting with various technologies
worked by their use of information to build an interpretation of their
knowing about the relationship between history and identity.”

Like others, Brenda finds that the creation of a historical thinking
activity– mash up here, games elsewhere – is more useful than simply
consuming technologies created by professionals. Interactivity does not
equal playfulness or historical understanding or learning or even interest
– a point that has been made repeatedly here at this symposium.

   Ruth’s suggestions as she goes about expanding the short draft
   prepared here:

   -   include more details about how you carried out the research;

   -   be more specific about what you were using to evaluate their
       reflections on their experience – what do you think, or what are
       you assuming they should be getting out of it?

   -   How would you measure the success of ‘good’ museum-based
       learning? Or was it enough that they learned that you could ‘go
    elsewhere’ to find more information, and that ‘didactic’
    techniques were not very effective? Is the mash up and
    individual character the best way to go? Would you recommend
    other changes to the assignment and to museum-based learning
    on the basis of what you found from this research?

-   I would also like to see your reflections on the differences
    between history in the classroom and history at museums – are
    they the same? If not, what kinds of learning, or what genres of
    history or historical thinking, distinguish them from each other?

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