Digital Learning Discussion – #museDLD – 26 February 2013

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Martin Bazley

Last week we held our first ever Digital Learning Discussion – a Twitter based event intended to encourage the sharing of ideas and good practice in using Twitter to support learning in the museum sector.

Over the course of the event, we tweeted 5 questions – one per hour. Using the hashtag #museDLD for reply collection, the Digital Learning Discussion included debates on the possibilities and benefits of using Twitter as a museum learning tool, and brought to light case studies of past use. Participants reflected on challenges and proposed ideas for future participation and application.

We had a great response to the questions, with over 175 tweets received and dozens of Twitter users from a wide variety of museum roles engaged with the event to discuss their views and experiences. Below are a selection of just some of the tweets we received and discussions that went on between tweeters on the day.

Q1 – What do you think are the benefits of using Twitter in museum learning?

Tweeters mentioned that Twitter can allow museums to communicate with a range of new audiences, making use of a technology which many already have access to. Tweeters suggested that Twitter offers the benefit of providing a virtual space in which debate and dialogue may be encouraged – online discussions need not necessarily necessitate an onsite visit.

I think it can get you direct to an audience (maybe not the usual audience of Learning departments…).
— Adrian (@acediscovery)

It enables you to talk to the audience in a medium they use on a daily bases – not ‘stuffy old museum labels’.
— MoDiP (@MoDiPAUB)

I think Twitter offers the ability to give immediate feedback and to extend engagement away from the physical museum.
— Claire Ross (@clairey_ross)

Direct responses from the public, dialogue between audiences, audiences inside and outside the gallery can create dialogue.
— melany rose (@melanosaurus)

Interesting Qs! Key benefits are engaging different audiences and encouraging debate.
— laura jane lannin (@l_lanni)

Many #museDLD participants mentioned that there is often a marketing tone to content tweeted by museums, with many sites tweeting about learning activities rather than using tweets as a learning activity in themselves:

Useful for promoting a one-off event.
— Emma Espley (@EmmaEspley)

We use it mainly as a signpost to other resources – so marketing really.
— MoDiP (@MoDiPAUB)

If learning dept use twitter to say what they’re doing, isn’t that actually just marketing?
— Adrian (@acediscovery)

Q2 – What examples do you know of Twitter being used by museums for effective learning?

Tweeters referenced a range of projects, hashtag activities and studies in which Twitter has been used effectively for learning:

I think was a really good use of twitter for learning. But that was a few years ago now.
– Claire Ross ‏@clairey_ross

Not sure if it’s learning per se, but I really like how @Your_Paintings are using twitter.
– Adrian ‏@acediscovery

I like @designmuseum‘s #fontsunday. Fun. Creative. Easy 4 every1 2 get involved w/their own unique take on the premise.
– Juno Rae ‏@junorae

I recently used twitter in a study w/ KS3 students at Museum of London. A paper discussing this study .
– Koula Charitonos ‏@ch_koula

A number of museums that have specific learning Twitter accounts were also identified, a list of which can be found here:

Q3 – What challenges do you think face museums using Twitter for learning?

#museDLD participants identified a number of challenges impeding museums from using Twitter for learning, including difficulties agreeing on a museum-wide strategy, evaluation issues, virtual firewalls, and hesitant non-Twitter users – staff and audiences alike:

Working out the goals in a way that satisfies all stakeholders.
– Adrian ‏@acediscovery

How to measure learning and or engagement and or success are the biggest challenges.
– Claire Ross ‏@clairey_ross

Understanding that there are different audiences to engage with & being ‘allowed’ to do so.
– laura jane lannin ‏@l_lanni

Encouraging non-Twitter users to engage with & explore the medium – it can be daunting when you’re not a regular.
– laura jane lannin ‏@l_lanni

Actual barriers e.g. firewalls can be a challenge & I agree w/ @acediscovery working out a brand tone everyone’s ok with.
– Juno Rae ‏@junorae

Think there’s also a challenge for some learning staff to engage with tech. They like face-to-face interaction not phones.
– Adrian ‏@acediscovery

Q4 – How would you encourage participation in Twitter projects?

Tweeters made several suggestions for how museums could boost participation, including incorporating it into learning programmes and making good use of the Twitter hashtag function:

Target participation on-site within specific programmes. 
– Koula Charitonos ‏@ch_koula

I think hashtags such as #askacurator and #museummascot are great engagement tools to get institutions and public talking.
– Stuart D. Berry ‏@stuartdberry

Q5 – Going forward, how would you like to see Twitter used in museum learning?

#museDLD participants expressed their hopes for the future of Twitter use in museum learning, highlighting its use as a record of audience learning processes and its possibilities as a crowdsourcing tool to garner information audiences may have on objects from museum collections:

I would like more participants to share their on-site museum learning experiences and outputs on Twitter!
– Linzsay @linzsay

I’d love to see us using twitter to generate useful information about our objects from the whole tweeting world.
– Adrian ‏@acediscovery

This first Twitter event explored the social media’s learning potential and acknowledged challenges as a step to overcoming them. We’d like to thank everyone who took part for offering their unique opinions and experiences. We hope that the points raised will be of use to those involved in social media strategy planning, to encourage the application of Twitter in such ways that it effectively supports learning and engagement with museum audiences.

A full transcript from the event can be read and downloaded here:

Have an idea for a topic you think we should cover in future #museDLDs? We’d love to hear your ideas – why not leave a comment on this post or tweet us your ideas @DLNET.



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