e-learning worries

claire r

One of the  key things I took from the mw2009 conference was the notion that museums on the web should do one thing and do one thing well.

I am now poised with the idea that I may have bitten off more then I can chew. The initial concept for the e-learning (e-xplore- name still needs work) website at Geevor was primarily for teacher use. However when I arrived with my big size 7’s and was left pretty much to my own devices, I extended the potential audience.  I being a firm believer in Inspiring Learning For All (IFLA) -not just the scheme, but the basic fact that museums are not just an extension of a school, they are available for the enjoyment of everyone and should be treated as such.  Many learning departments in museums, still focus on formal learning, and I think that is such a shame!  Anyway, I thought that the history of Geevor has a wider appeal then just teachers alone and that it should be open to all.  Everyone should be able to engage and be inspired by Geevor’s varied history.

So I had the best intentions.

However…

Now the e-learning website is trying to cater for every available audience who wants to learn, or even users who don’t want to learn (and we can try and sneak learning upon them, when they’re not looking).  Additionally, the idea of user generated content is something I get really excited about.  I am not trying to turn the e-learning site into a wiki (wiki’s actually terrify me but that’s a personal aside), but I want users to have the opportunity to contribute thoughts, comments, ideas, memories etc on what at the end of the day is a strong history and cultural identity of a large section of the community.  Geevor is run by a local community charity and therefore community involvement is encouraged at all times.

Because of this all singing and all dancing development, has the e-learning lost its initial purpose? Has it spread itself to thin?  By trying to be all inclusive have I actually excluded what could be argued to be the key audience? Teachers.

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6 Responses to “e-learning worries”

  1. My first question would be – are the changes harming the experience of the original target users? If you don’t have the budget for formal testing you could try some guerrilla user testing, or try rolling out small, incremental changes and test their effect before moving on to the next step.

  2. Yvonne Hellin Hobbs Says:

    Are the key audience teachers? don’t they just want an easy life like everyone else? Surely encouraging user generated content will not include just teachers, but people who never thought their content counted before. The IFLA ‘enjoyment of everyone’ should shy away from teachers and make people relaxed enough to enjoy learning when they don’t even realise they are, shouldn’t it? Education is, after all, wasted on the young.
    See U on twitter.

  3. I dont think the changes are harming the experience of teachers, but perhaps it will deminish what could be achieved if it was niche targeted. is user generated content, and collections interactivity potentially nothing more than a distraction?After all schools are the ones that bring the money in when the tourists go home.

    I dont want it to be another Museum learning website which tries to be all things to all people: teachers, students, researchers, lifelong learners, tourists, etc. and then fails.

    i suppose we shall see, i’ll be running some trials in the comming months and hopefully will be able to get a better idea. I would love it if it did work and everyone could engage with Geevor! happy days!

  4. I think you’ve probably just summed up the worries of every person in a small museum with limited resources and a big remit and having just been given an insight into what the ‘big boys’ are doing!

    I think you’ve got to stick with what you set out to do now since you haven’t got long. I think your reasons for aiming for a wider audience were sound and you can only do your best now and even if you reflect afterwards that you should have done it differently make sure that both Geevor and you personally learn from those lessons for the future.

    It sounds like you’ve already done a lot for Geevor with the blog and Twitter and starting to engage people with Geevor and raising its profile in your professional networks.

    Stick with it and do your best! You’re doing a great job with bags of enthusiasm and moving in the right direction which is what’s important, don’t worry!

  5. Hi Claire,

    I agree with Rhiannon, your reasons for selecting a more inclusive notion of ‘learning’ is more than sound. The only thing I’d question is targeting “users who don’t want to learn” by “sneak learning”. Whilst you absolutely should be targeting people who don’t consider themselves formal learners, or who don’t even recognise the word “learn” at all, I think it’s very difficult to engage people who have no interest in your subject matter at all.

    If I were you (and I’m obviously not), I’d be tempted to ditch the formal education target audience (ie teachers) altogether. They are notoriously time-poor, web-illiterate, and often only care about the strict application of the National Curriculum (I’m generalising, but you get the drift).

    Frankie

  6. I cant wait to see this e-learning website looking on and looking in and forward to it

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