Adult Learning

Posted on by

Anne-Marie Langford

Many museums run rich and varied adult learning offers onsite: lectures, talks, courses, debates, performances, demonstrations, activities, workshops and more. Museum learning experiences are particularly valuable for their rich experiential content, for example, the sense of presence you get when confronted by an artifact. 

Museums have long been a rich resource for adult learners allowing them to explore and experience new ideas and information. Through their interactive nature, museums have the power to confront individuals’ ideas about the world and transform it. Recent museum educational theory focuses on the social, personal, and physical interactions that combine to create meaningful learning experiences. Adult learners come to the museum for a range of motivations; curiosity, focussed research, self acutalisation or socialising to name a few.  Digital tools have been used on site to enhance interpretation and deepen engagement. They have also been used to enable online engagement opening up experiences to adult learners defying the limitations of time and space. There have been many  examples museums creating of 360 degree models of exhibitions allowing visitors to experience their collections outside of opening hours on the other side of the world.  An example is (The Virtual tour of Museum of London  Docklands

Some Examples of Adult Learning

The National Museum of Computing has a YouTube channel with pre-recorded talks and lectures on a wide range of subjects. The talks are aimed at tech nerds and enthusiasts. The museum offers regular live talks and lectures to its supporters and members which are delivered by their expert volunteers.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has a range of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) which are hosted on Future Learn. As a result of the pandemic they developed  a range of digital outreach sessions as an alternative to their residential courses. In February 2021 they delivered their “Winter School”, a course delivered over 2 days, online. This included a live streamed showing of a film version of “Twelfth Night”, a quiz and pre-recorded talks from experts, live hosting from their own in-house experts and online chats.

Birmingham Museums run a subscription service to their online content for adults, which is called Birmingham Museums On Demand. Created by the in-house team, a monthly subscription costs £20 and gives access to ‘exclusive’ content. Each month the pass contains links to lectures and talks.


In this month’s DLNET twitter chat we will be exploring these questions:

How have digital tools been used to engage adult learners?

What opportunities does this offer?

What are the problems and pitfalls?

How do you create great learning experiences through a screen?

How has digital content for adult learners allowed you to connect with international audiences?


 DLNET Twitter chat takes place on Friday 3 September at 1pm.

Comments are closed.