Museums, Education and Technology
Long Paper (20+10min)
Digital History of Virtual Museums: The Transition from Analog to Internet Environment
Perm State University, Russia; University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Many thousands of virtual museums exist on the Internet, demonstrating very diverse and significant museum resources, showcasing the treasury of humankind. These resources have come a long way in their evolution over past decades. The history of virtual museums began long before they appeared on the Internet, and the concept of virtual museums needed to be established in order to become an essential and effective means of accomplishing new museum functions in the digital age. Through the designing of such a concept, the creation and development of museums' information resources, websites and various digital initiatives have become the keys to the success of museums in the digital environment today. This article considers the concept of a virtual museum, traces the transition of virtual museums from analog and interim multimedia formats to the online environment. The author surveys the crucial moments in the history of virtual museums and the stages of their development from the digital turn to their appearance on the Internet and subsequent transformation after this transition. In this article examples of museum information resources from North America and Europe, Japan and Australia are traced back to the first virtual museums online in the 1990s. Based on the analysis of materials from web archives, strategies for creating the first virtual museum resources on the WWW are identified.
Short Paper (10+5min)
Museums, Technology and Social Interaction in “Anyone Can Innovate!”
Research Institutes of Sweden, Sweden
The purpose of this paper is to describe insights gained from a collaboration project between RISE, an experimental research institute, and Borås Museum, a local cultural heritage institution, around the topic of how technology can be used in museums to encourage social interaction between visitors and between visitors and the museum staff. This is investigated through a case study of the project “Anyone Can Innovate!”, which was a multi-participatory VR-installation, using a perspective of participatory design. The study was conducted through observations by the developers, formal user testing with externally recruited testers, and by an interview with the responsible project leader and curator from Borås Museum. The VR-installation was tested in two iterations with different levels of embedded guidance, and included different roles for the participants, as an attempt to boost collaboration and interaction. One conclusion of the study is that the use of technology in a museum doesn’t per se mean that it will be participatory, and that it does not necessarily exclude the role of a human guide. In the discussion part, examples are given on how technology can be used as a tool to use participatory design.
Short Paper (10+5min)
No Longer Obsolete: Mapping Digital Literacy Skills for Museum Professionals in Sweden and Lithuania
Uppsala University, Sweden; Vilnius University, Lithuania
Contemporary museums as open systems are constantly transforming in response to economic, technological, social and cultural trends. The past decade has witnessed an increasing demand for information about the digitization of, access to, and preservation of museum collections to produce digital cultural heritage and new affordances for visitor-museum encounters. The post-digital turn normalizes the application of the ICTs as a basic attribute of the museum practice for preservation, collection, display and communication functions (Parry, 2010; 2013). Thus, the practitioners must be equipped with the transferable competencies to be able to successfully perform their duties and facilitate the successful digital transformation of the cultural institutions (Borowiecki & Navarrete, 2017).
The previous research into the digital competencies demonstrates the paucity in its understanding and conceptualization of digital literacy (Marty, 2006; Tallon, 2017). For example, Jisc (2014) defines it as “capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society. Digital literacy looks beyond functional IT skills to describe a richer set of digital behaviors, practices, and identities”. This definition provides a general view of the concept and requires further elaboration and adaptation to the specificity of the museum sector. Moreover, due to the constant and speedy change, the creative industries sector experiences a permanent gap in transferrable skills (Creative and Cultural Skills, 2011; Howard, 2013). Against the background of these trends, there is a need for further investigation into digital literacy and approaches to assessment and evaluation.
The existing European (eCult Skills 2013-2015, Mu.SA project 2016-2019) and British national research projects (One by One: Building Digital Literacies 2017-2020) serve as important facilitators in addressing the existing research and practice gaps in the digital literacies and advancement of the museum sector, however, the empirically-driven conclusions are partly applicable to the Baltic and Nordic context.
The goal of this paper is to provide a nuanced understanding of how the digital skills and literacies are understood, operationalized, and supplied in the Swedish and Lithuanian museological contexts.
A conceptual model of the museum digital skills ecosystem, suggested by Parry, R., Eikhof, D. R., Barnes, S. A., & Kispeter, E. (2018) is adopted as a theoretical framework to scrutinize the landscape of the digital literacy skills in two case studies.
The paper addresses the following interrelated blocks of research questions:
1. How do national cultural policies and legislation regulate the digitalization of museums and the provision of digital literacy skills in Lithuania and Sweden?
2. How do museum practitioners understand and deploy digital literacy skills in their daily professional practices?
3. What measures are required to bridge the gap (if any) and reach the balance in demand and supply of the skills?
To depict the national peculiarities, the study will use the data from a) desk-study about the evidence on the national museum regulations and digitization in Lithuania and Sweden, and 2) qualitative research methods, based on the in-depth interviews with the museum practitioners to gain a nuanced understanding of how digital skills are developed and deployed in different structural units.
The comparative thematic analysis of Kulturarvspolitik (2017) and Museilag (2017), in Sweden; and New National Museum Decree (2018) in Lithuania will create the legislative framework for the analysis of the existing regulations and infrastructures. Furthermore, the empirical data will be obtained from the museum professionals of two national art museums: the Nationalmuseum (Stockholm), incorporating Digital Laboratory; and Lithuanian Art Museum (LAM), incorporating Lithuanian Museums’ Centre for Information, Digitisation. The choice of the museums is determined by the following factors: similarity of the institutional context - art museums; the status - both museum are national cultural institutions; and they both serve as national digital hubs, incorporating the Digital Laboratory (Nationalmuseum), and Lithuanian Museums’ Centre for Information, Digitisation (Lithuanian Art Museum).
The empirical data will benchmark the national peculiarities of the digital skills ecosystems and digitization processes in Lithuania and Sweden. The Baltic-Nordic comparative perspective will generate a consolidated view on the digitization of the museum sectors, discussing the existing threats and opportunities for digitalization, as well as supply and demand of the digital competencies.
As an outcome, a set of recommendations for the prospective collaboration and knowledge transfer will be developed. These guidelines will provide a glimpse into nationally-tailored and regional specificity of digital skills ecosystems that will address the existing gap.
Borowiecki, K. J., & T. Navarrete (2017). Digitization of Heritage Collections as Indicator of Innovation. Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 26, 3, 227-246.
Creative and Cultural Skills (2011). Sector Skills Assessment for the Creative Industries of the UK. London: Creative and Cultural Skills. Available from: https://creativeskillset.org/assets/0000/6023/Sector_Skills_Assessment_for_the_Creative_Industries _-_Skillset_and_CCSkills_2011.pdf
eCult Skills [Desk and Field Research: Guidelines and Templates] V.1.0. Available from:: http://files.groupspaces.com/eCult/files/1152507/RQMMdZeHqGSV1EEiHKk5/R2a+%26+R3a+Methodology+for+identification+of+K%2C+S%2C+C+needed+in+the+e-cult+sector+%26+Trainings+availalbe+in+the+EU.pdf
Jisc (2014). Developing Digital Literacies (online guide). Bristol: Jisc. Available from: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-digital-literacies
Howard, K. (2013). GLAM (Re-)Convergence and the Education of Information Professionals. Paper presented at A GLAMorous Future? Reflecting on Integrative Practice Between Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums. Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand.
Lithuanian Art Museum. Available from: https://www.ldm.lt/en/
Lithuanian Museums’ Centre for Information, Digitisation. Available from: https://www.limis.lt/en/projektas
Marty, P. F. (2006). Finding the skills for tomorrow: Information literacy and museum information professionals. Museum Management and Curatorship, 21, 4, 317-335.
Mu.SA: Museum Sector Alliance (2019). Available from: http://www.project-musa.eu/about/
Nationalmuseum, Available from http://collection.nationalmuseum.se/
Parry, R. (ed.) (2010). Museums in a Digital Age. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.
Parry, R. (2013). The End of the Beginning: Normativity in the postdigital museum. Museum Worlds, 1,24-39. Pedro, A. R. (2010). Portuguese Museums and Web 2.0. [Os museus portugueses e a Web 2.0]. Ciencia da Informacao, 39, 2, 92-100.
Parry, R., Eikhof, D. R., Barnes, S. A., & Kispeter, E. (2018). Mapping the Museum Digital Skills Ecosystem-Phase One Report.
Tallon, L. (2017). Digital is More Than a Department, it is a Collective Responsibility. The Met. Published 24 October 2017. Available from: https://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/now-at-themet/2017/digital-future-at-the-met
Short Paper (10+5min)
Beginning Latvian and Lithuanian as University Level Distance Learning Courses – Experiences and Reflections from the Past Two Years of Teaching
Stockholm University, Sweden
The Baltic Section of the Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies, Finnish, Dutch and German at Stockholm University has offered beginning courses in Latvian and Lithuanian ever since the fall term of 2017. While it may seem unusual to teach a language over the internet with no physical contact at all, this teaching method has been shown to be especially well suited for the so-called "smaller" or "exotic" languages, that often lack sufficient student applicants for campus courses. As a point in case, both the Latvian and the Lithuanian courses have had an average of 20 registered students per term, a number which must be regarded as unusually high for these languages. Approximately 90% carry through to the end and take the final exam. About 10% of the students decline to participate in face-to-face contacts via Skype, Zoom or Adobe Connect, which could indicate any number of things, among them the possibility that the student is cheating, i.e. someone else is doing the work in the course modules, and that s/he does not want to reveal their lack of language knowledge, or it could simply be that the student is shy. These and other types of student/study observations and statistics will be presented and analyzed.
Over the past two years, the courses have successively changed based on student feedback, technological challenges and developments, and changes in teacher (my) attitudes. Among the issues I will discuss are technological problems, which for some students are a huge barrier to successful studies, and administrative issues, which can take up a major part of the teacher's allocated teaching time. Concerning course design, the teacher must be prepared to create or find new content, as links to external study materials suddenly disappear or the materials themselves are changed. Also, the increasing student use of smartphones as their main learning platform, means that study materials must be continually redesigned with the small monitor in mind. These and other observations and reflections will be presented.
It can be concluded, that at least in Stockholm university, Latvian and Lithuanian will continue to be taught as distance learning courses, and that most likely, their scope and number will increase. In order to retain and augment student interest, the lessons learned and the experiences gained from the first two years of internet teaching should be gathered, systematized and implemented in the future language courses.
References: ECAR study of Faculy and Information Technology 2017 (https://www.educause.edu/ecar/research-publications/ecar-study-of-faculty-and-information-technology/2017/introduction-and-key-findings)
Darby, Flower: How to Be a Better Online Teacher in The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 17, 2019 (https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/advice-online-teaching)