By Lynda Kelly
It has long been recognised that choice and control are important facets of learning (Hein, 1998; Paris, 1998) and that learning experiences need to be learner-centred (Dewey, 1938). Recent audience research projects found that audiences want to have more control over their museum learning experiences (Kelly, 2007). Work on museums and controversial subjects found that visitors wanted to not only engage with these topics, but they wanted to make comment and have conversations about them, both with the museum and with other visitors (Kelly, 2006). At the time of these studies the internet was still emerging as a force to be reckoned with ... until the arrival of Web 2.0.
What is Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 (sometimes referred to as social media/social networking) is all about connections, such as through:
- Sharing content: blogs, wikis, podcasts, vlogs, Twitter
- Self-publishing content: YouTube, Flickr, blogs, Wikipedia
- Adding to established content: user-tagging, Wikipedia
- Discussing issues: forums, blogs, chat
- Tailoring information: RSS feeds, email alerts
- Bringing people together: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, SecondLife, platforms such as ning
Web 2.0 is also “associated with the idea of the Internet as platform” (see the website Short version of key terms in social media and networking for more definitions).
Web 2.0 means that museums will have increasingly complex relationships with their users as it “... puts users and not the organisation at the centre of the equation. This is threatening, but also exciting in that it has the potential to lead to richer content, a more personal experience.’ (Ellis and Kelly, 2007).
The Australian Museum's new website
On Sunday 7 June 2009, the Australian Museum launched its new website. After four long years of planning and preparation we finally have a site that enables staff to manage their own online material and which enables us to engage in two-way interaction and community building. For the past two years we have been actively working on organisational change, using the staff mantra of working 20% differently, not 20% more. We have also been using the Engaging with Social Media in Museums research project to conduct online experiments which resulted in an added benefit of inspiring staff into wanting to engage further in the online world and become proactive – we have been blogging about that project here on Museum 3.0.
I invite you to visit our site, sign up to our community and please give us feedback either via the commenting function or the email form.
- Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education. New York: Kappa Delta Pi.
- Ellis, M., & Kelly, B. (2007). Web 2.0: How to Stop Thinking and Start Doing: Addressing Organisational Barriers. In J. Trant & D. Bearman (Eds.), Museums and the Web 2007: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics.
- Hein, G. (1998). Learning in the Museum. London: Routledge.
- Kelly, L. (2006). Museums as Sources of Information and Learning: The Decision-Making Process. Open Museum Journal, 8.
- Kelly, L. (2007). Visitors and Learners: Adult Museum Visitors' Learning Identities. University of Technology, Sydney.
- Paris, S. (1997). Situated Motivation and Informal Learning. Journal of Museum Education, 22, 22-27.
[Editor's note: The Western Museums Association's blog WestMuse is open to submissions from all over the world for topics relevant to museums in the western United States. This author was invited to submit the Australian Museum's brand new web site, because if has some interesting modules where the web 2.0 tools to which she refers are "built right in." Be sure to sign up for "My museum" and give it a test drive.]