IE is currently working on an exciting new project with Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, with the working title of Collections in the Landscape. The project has a strong digital element, framed around:
- The refurbishment of the Wonders of the Peak Gallery at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery
- Wonders of the Peak digital content (a mobile and desktop experience).
We were initially appointed as project evaluator but have since been asked to write learning resources too.
Through the evaluation process and user testing with visitors to the Peak District, it became obvious the app might be a perfect fit for formal learning.
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is a County Council-run museum so resources are scarce. Part of the project is to develop a learning offer for largely local schools, but with the assumption that there will be minimal resource available in terms of learning assistants or museum staff.
We are currently exploring the potential for the digital tool to offer a different approach, particularly if it is co-created with local schools, staff and children.
We believe that there are opportunities for Wonders of the Peak to support new types of learning activity, taking the museum collection and learning out into the landscape (Walking through time) and to find sites.
Trials with potential audiences
We are currently working with:
- Teachers to develop trails and trial apps to support field work.
- School councils
- Both local and more distant schools
- Museum staff
The trails for trial so far relate to Romans, Prehistory and a Local Study/Inspiration, but there is enormous potential to link to other subject areas, particularly geography, arts, science, literacy, both in the museum and classroom.
Format for development work
We are in the process of organising VIP visits to the museum for teachers and children, with subsequent creative workshops to look at how they might use and provide content for the app.
Teachers can also use the desktop version of Wonders of the Peak to remind children of the museum visit back in the classroom. This has the potential to be a great revision tool, reminding the children of what they have seen.
We are also considering how parents/carers might use the app in family learning but linked to schools. There is potential use the app back at home with families, perhaps generating homework trails on Prehistory or the Romans for example.
Learning so far
The learning so far has been around practicalities and how requirements differ between tourist applications and learning applications:
- Access to tablets: schools often ban teachers from using personal devices, and have a limited number of tablets so potentially museum needs to supply these
- Safety: routes cannot be randomised because of safety issues. They need to be specific in terms of content, route and challenges. Also in terms of type of visit and when the walk will take place.
- The app may be more suitable for local schools where teachers have some local knowledge.
Another possibility is a trail supported by museum staff as the app will generate trails that are curriculum specific, so staff can talk about objects and find sites appropriately.
View our presentation to the Digital Learning Network Conference at Oxford University below.