What does your museum website do for teachers?

Ana of Le carnet d’Ana blogged today about the Virtual Museum of Canada’s AGORA Learning Center. She writes,

Je trouve cette initiative importante parce que de plus en plus d’information muséale destinée aux enseignants est disponible et des heures sont nécessaires pour les trouver et les interpréter. Or, les enseignants n’ont pas ce temps. Il est de notre devoir de les aider à se simplifier la tâche de recherche et de leur donner des outils pour utiliser nos ressources à leur façon.

My (very) rough translation of the above:

I find this initiative important because more and more museum information is available to teachers, yet it takes hours for them to find and interpret it. Some teachers don’t have the time to do this. It’s our job to help them simplify the task of research and to give them the tools to use our resources in their own ways.

Agreed! When I was employed by a science center, I created teacher resource packets that, in a single page or so of text, gave teachers the background information they needed to understand what they’d see in our exhibits. In this same packet, we provided them with simple exercises to try out with their students using materials they likely already had at hand. Some lessons were designed for use before the class visited the center and some post-visit. The teachers received these packets via mail but they were also available online in PDF.

In a perfect world, of course, these packets would be interactive and tailored both to the exhibit and to individual teachers’ needs. I’d like to see a museum-hosted, online, fully searchable database that allowed teachers to enter the subject they’d like to teach, the grade level, and either their budget or the materials they had at hand. Entering these search criteria would bring up a selection of lessons tailored to the teacher’s physical resources and curricular needs. Anyone want to hire me to design one? 😉

P.S. — It looks like the VMC lets users create their own “personal museums.” This feature might work really well for teachers trying to put together a custom collection of objects on which students could produce projects. Check it out.

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