Updates

Recommended: Using Large Digital Collections in Education, from DPLA

Over the past nine months, our friends Franky Abbott and Dan Cohen at the Digital Public Library of America have been investigating the educational use of their platform by talking to other online resource providers (including us here at the Smithsonian) as well as K–12 and undergraduate teachers, with the goal of better understanding how to serve this audience. From their report:We learned that educators are eager to incorporate primary sou...

Our Personas: Introducing Naomi, Javier, Samantha, and Nicole

A tool that our project team has opted to use in the process of creating the Learning Lab is the development of personas. Personas are a way of keeping users, or at least models for who your users might be, at the forefront of the conversation. They don't take the place of hard core user-centered practices (i.e. spending a lot of time talking and working with teachers), but they have been useful in defining our target users. The...

Building Teaching Collections for English Language Learners

If you've ever tried to learn (or teach) a second language, you know that trying to master fluency skills can be an intimidating process. Too many handouts with large blocks of text can become mental roadblocks for participation and might even leave you and your students a bit overwhelmed as you attempt to define everything word by word. A common learning strategy in ESL/EFL classrooms is to build vocabulary and strengthen confiden...

What We Have Learned So Far: Teacher Research and Prototyping

The third phase of investigation was conducted during the formative research phase of the project in 2012. Following the literature review, and the environmental scan, in order to begin to develop specifications for what would become the Smithsonian Learning Lab, two phases of teacher research and prototyping were conducted. The first engaged a group of 20 educators in California in the spring of 2012. The second involved rapid pro...

What Are Museums For?

This week, I attended a farewell “staff meeting" for G. Wayne Clough who is retiring this month. I was reminded of this quotation from Dr. Clough, the Smithsonian's 12th Secretary, at the occasion of the launch of the Learning Registry (a project we will talk about in greater detail on this site later): We have ambitious plans to use new technologies to reach new audiences. … We have much to offer students and teachers in ...