Reach, Relevance, Relationship and Recontextualisation: The 4 Rs of Inclusive Online Museum Learning

By Jen Ross, Siân Bayne and Zoe Williamson.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The National Museums Online Learning Project (NMOLP) is a 3-year, £1.75m project developed by 9 English national museums and galleries (British Museum, Imperial War Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum, Royal Armouries, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Tate, Victoria and Albert Museum, Wallace Collection) and funded by the Invest to Save Initiative from the UK Treasury. Now in its final year, the project’s overall objective is to increase the use of its existing digital collections in schools, and with lifelong learners. As the project plan states: “we are not proposing to add more content about objects … we aim to address the greatest barrier people face with this vast online resource – how to use it simply, creatively, and effectively”. Drawing on our research with the NMOLP, this paper will position museums and online learning, and this project in particular, with respect to the four Rs that we propose are at the heart of addressing barriers to the use of online museum learning resources: reach – focussing on digital literacies as a way of reaching a wide range of learners; relevance – the digital museum must consider what can be done better online, and which learning opportunities will engage learners in digital environments; relationship – how the shift from object to user, and the changing meanings of ‘visitor’ online, changes the relationship between the museum and learner; re-contextualisation – allowing and supporting learners to make personal connections to and between objects, and providing a structure from which personal narratives can emerge.

Keywords: Online Learning, Learner Identities, Digital Literacies, Museum Contexts, Lifelong Learners, Schools, National Museums

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.67-74. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 562.275KB).

Jen Ross

Research Associate, Higher and Community Education, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Jen Ross is a researcher working on the National Museums Online Learning Project in the UK. She is based in the Department of Higher and Community Education at the University of Edinburgh, where she is also the technologies co-ordinator for the MSc in E-Learning programme. She is also conducting doctoral work on online reflective practices in Higher Education.

Dr. Siân Bayne

Senior Lecturer, Higher and Community Education, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Sian Bayne is Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Edinburgh, Programme Director of the online MSc in E-learning, co-convenor of the Ideas in Cyberspace Education symposia and Principal Investigator on the research strand of the National Museums Online Learning Project.

Zoe Williamson

Lecturer, Curriculum Research and Design, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Zoe Williamson is a lecturer at the Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, where she is course organizer and tutor on the Initial Teacher Education undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, working mainly with Primary education students. Her teaching focuses on the use of new technologies in education, with her primary interest being on the use of digital media and developing ‘new literacies’. Her research interests span issues relating to the use of new technology in education as well as research into teachers’ continuing professional learning and development, the latter forming the basis of her own doctoral research.


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