“Beyond the Walls: Redefining the Museum as an Educational New Media Publisher” by Schwarz and Abt

  • ©Gretchen Schwarz and Patricia (Patty) A. Abt

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    Beyond the Walls: Redefining the Museum as an Educational New Media Publisher

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    As museums continue to adopt new media technologies, their role in national education has expanded from traditional research, collection, and exhibition to include original educational publishing using every flavor of new technology. These new publishing initiatives extend the museum’s influence beyond its walls and generate fresh production challenges. As publishers, museums have a tremendous opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the available media at a time when raising the standard of science and mathematics education is a national imperative. Though many museums are not seasoned new-media publishers, they do have a natural wealth of content resources waiting to be sculpted. How will museums become important educational publishers? How will they use the most current technologies to deliver their products to reach a significant audience? What technologies are most suitable for crafting learning tools?

    In 1997, the American Museum of Natural History in New York began to tackle these questions with the launch of its National Center for Science Literacy, Education, and Technology. This panel presents specific examples of the National Center’s current developments in new media education publishing: the Ology Web site and Science Bulletins. Panelists outline the unique technology base that supports each project and discuss practical production challenges. The panel demonstrates that the most effective uses of technology in development of editorial content are not necessarily in costly innovation and infrastructure, but rather in reinterpretation of traditional museum roles in education and the community that support long-term institutional goals. Panelists address how each publishing project exemplifies one of the following production goals:

    • Promote experiential, life-long learning (the Ology Web site: www.ology.amnh.org).
    • Use dynamic current events as a focal point for introducing and reinforcing major concepts in science curriculum and curatorial content: Science Bulletins

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