If museums are learning institutions, museums must provide mechanisms to promote, support and encourage learning. As well museums must understand how learning occurs. The rapid development of hand-held technology offers new and potentially powerful opportunities for museums to develop innovative pedagogy.
For the past year The Nickle Arts Museum, in Calgary, Canada, has been experimenting with the use of iPods in the gallery. Tours and talks related to a specific exhibition are videotaped and, with minimal editing and titling, downloaded to an iPod which, in turn, is available, free, to patrons for their in-gallery use. In this way visitors may follow, both visually and aurally, a previous educational event. With this technology, visitors can proceed at their own pace, stopping and starting as will, or even repeating segments as desired.
The tool has many qualities, including that it is individually controlled and can be personalized. In the future we would like to make the learning on the iPod or hand-held device (will it be a cell phone?) a more layered experience, by adding links and materials not covered in the original tour or talk.
Director, The Nickle Arts Museum, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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