University of Cambridge Museums

Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums

Digital Learning Camp

We are currently looking carefully at how teachers use digital resources in the schools in the hope of creating new resources around the University of Cambridge Museums collections. As former classroom teachers we are frustrated by the many collections based digital projects which are not actively used by schools. Many of these are not created in consultation with teachers and young people.

IMG_0401We were very excited by the announcement of the Digital Learning Camp at Leeds City Museum run by the Digital Learning Network (DLNET) and My Learning which promised to explore and discuss many of the issues we are currently considering within our own project. (Unfortunately it did involve an early 5.30am start!)

Here are our highlights:

Martin Bazley, Chair of DLNET, started the day asking some interesting questions about what digital learning was and how we could measure the impact of our work in this area. He also warned against getting hypnotised by the wonder of the technology at the expense of a clear focus on learning outcomes.

John McMahon from HLF went on to ask us to consider, ‘Does it actually need to be digital?’ He shared the findings of a recent study evaluating HLF funded projects with digital elements, unpicked some of the challenges they faced and described some of the common features of high quality projects. He urged us to create a shift in our thinking and see digital as a tool which is integral to the rest of the work that we do. Digital outputs should deliver experiences of an equivalent quality to the rest of our learning programmes.

IMG_0387Emma King’s very practical session made us think through the process of planning, delivering and evaluating focus groups. She encouraged us to work together to carefully consider our objectives and what we could realistically expect to learn from groups of this kind. It was incredibly useful to talk this through with the rest of the learning camp participants and share experiences.

Throughout the day we felt reassured that we were not the only ones wrestling with all these issues and excited by the promise of many creative digital projects in development. Many emails and contact details were swapped with promises of further discussion and updates.

The day concluded with a teacher led panel which further challenged our preconceptions about how schools use digital resources and reinforced the importance of working closely with teachers. We should aim high with our digital learning plans and imagine how objects and themes from our University of Cambridge Museums collections could be embedded in the power points, lesson plans, blogs and homework of inspiring teachers like these. In the words of Stuart Tiffany from Farsley Farfield Primary School teachers want,

‘something to get pupils thinking,

something to get them talking

and something to get them wondering.’

So, was the Digital Learning Camp worth the 5.30am start? Yes! It most definitely was!

Kate Noble, Education Officer, Fitzwilliam Museum
Naomi Champman, Education and Outreach, The Polar Museum

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