Research Question 4: Significant Challenges

What do you see as the significant challenges related to education and interpretation that museums will face during the next five years?

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Challenge Name
Add your ideas here, with few sentences of description including full URLs for references (e.g. http://horizon.nmc.org). And do not forget to sign your contribution with 4 ~ (tilde) characters!




Balancing Our Connected and Unconnected Lives
With the abundance of content, technologies, and overall participatory options, learning institutions need to lead the way to facilitating finding a balance between connected and unconnected life. With technology now at the center of many daily activities, it is important that learners understand how to balance their connected life with other developmental needs. Educational institutions should lead the way to ensure learners do not get lost and absorbed by the abundance of information and technology, and encourage mindful use of technology so that students stay aware of their digital footprint. As education aligns closer with technological trends, teachers will have to promote this balance, encouraging students to feel, digest, reflect, touch, and pursue sensorial experiences that are crucial to developing character and integrity. Finding a balance and guiding learners to personal success should be society's compromise with new generations of digital natives. The IPSOS report (http://www.ipsosglobaltrends.com/index.html ) addressed this: "Digital citizens are conflicted with their lives online: On the one hand they’re mad for devices and love having the world at their fingertips and that all aspects of their lives – work, personal and social – have converged in the one place; BUT on the other hand, people are starting to step back, reflect and look more seriously how much their lives have changed in past 5-7 years, since smartphones, and researchers are starting to hear more about the downsides of lives increasingly lived online" http://musdigi.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/the-new-digital-consumer-remixsyd-throwbackthursday/ - lkelly lkelly Oct 26, 2014- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014 I believe this challenge can be turned into an opportunity for museums, by being places where the balance is clear (and focused towards 'unconnected'), something already addressed in the 2011 Happy Museum Project report http://www.happymuseumproject.org/ - jasper jasper Nov 2, 2014 I agree, museums can be a place for 'unconnecting' - mcollerd mcollerd Nov 5, 2014 Adding a few references: Mike Murawski addresses this challenge very constructively in his brilliant essay "The Moon Belongs to Everyone" (https://medium.com/code-words-technology-and-theory-in-the-museum/the-moon-belongs-to-everyone-embracing-a-digital-mindset-in-museums-b73f48aa18a5), published in the CODEWORDS series. Statens Museum for Kunst hosts a seminar "Critique of Digital Reason" November 7, discussing how advanced technologies for good and bad affect the human ability to navigate, reflect and (make) sense (of) arts and culture. Programme here (http://www.smk.dk/besoeg-museet/kalender/begivenhed/aktivitet/critique-of-digital-reason-an-international-seminar-on-google-glass-and-other-vision-machines/) - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Nov 3, 2014 These are great reads, thanks! - Jeff.A Jeff.A Nov 4, 2014 - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014

Continual Progress in Technology, Workflows, and Infrastructure
In many cases, museums may not have the necessary technical infrastructure in place to realize their vision for digital learning and content production. While it is practically impossible not to recognize the value of digital learning in today’s connected world, the reality for museums is that the vast majority of institutions do not have the necessary technical infrastructure to successfully pursue goals for digital learning, and often have little time to dedicate to articulating, much less realizing their vision. Additionally, Museums too often face additional costs to repurpose information created for museum catalogs or even websites as they try to meet demands of content from the growing array of potential media formats. The challenge for content producers within museums is to revamp production workflows and content licenses so that they simultaneously support any possible use. Compounding this question is who produces content and how is content defined? - AHelmreich AHelmreich Oct 24, 2014 - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 - mcollerd mcollerd Nov 5, 2014 Interoperability and long term preservation will always be a challenge - and it increases with the speed of development, new material, technology. - kaja kaja Nov 2, 2014 I'm not current on how many museums understand that their digital infrastructure needs just as much attention, ongoing maintenance and updating, and resources as the physical infrastructure, but I suspect we have a ways to go. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Nov 2, 2014- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014- mwall mwall Nov 4, 2014 It's not just content producers who are challenged by this point. Maintaining the technical infrastructure - even if the institution has outsourced some of the baseline infrastructure (is using a cloud service for bulk storage, for example) - is costly and constantly in need of upgrading or adding new speed or capacity. Similarly, institutions must invest in constant professional development for the people who are doing the development work, such as programmers, designers, gallery technicians or must find the budget for the cost of outsourcing technology projects. [- ewallis ewallis Nov 3, 2014]- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014 - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 - rdowden rdowden Nov 5, 2014 - mcollerd mcollerd Nov 5, 2014 This challenge is also related to the challenge listed below. There needs to be more emphasis placed on diversifying staff, ensuring various disciplines are represented. This will ensure a broader understanding and evaluation of emerging technologies and how they relate to the defined strategy. Not only will this establish an in-house knowledge base that will enhance training efforts, it will ultimately be a cost effective measure by potentially eliminating wasteful expenditures. - Jeff.A Jeff.A Nov 4, 2014 Even larger institutions are struggling with the cost of updating and maintaining technology. Each project should include a 5 year look out to see what will be required to sustain and maintain it. - Psparrow Psparrow Nov 5, 2014 And still, after all this time, most digital project funding seems to be project based and not in operational budgets with stated long-term roadmaps and graceful sunsetting plans. The ways these projects are structured in many museums (from what I've seen) is not allowing strategic minded project leads to really look at the big long term picture in any meaningful way. - lizneely.mail lizneely.mail Nov 5, 2014

Developing Comprehensive Digital Strategies
Such a strategy should include not only traditional elements of a technology plan (e.g., hardware, software, networks, etc.) but also e-forms of marketing, philanthropy, and revenue generation, as well as critical tasks like digitization, digital preservation, and long term technology infrastructure. This plan should “future-proof” the museum to every extent possible, by ensuring that they have accounted for all infrastructure needs. Additionally, it is clear that a museum cannot simply plan a web presence as it might a brochure or catalog — a museum’s digital presence today includes not only a web site, but also a social media presence, mobile tools and apps, interaction with online communities, electronic fundraising, online sales, and much more. All must be addressed, as will the skill sets that will be required. Needs leadership and vision at the top of the organisation to understand where the investment and initiatives in digital need to be made to transform the way their museums operate.- croyston croyston Nov 2, 2014 - AHelmreich AHelmreich Nov 2, 2014 Agreed [- ewallis ewallis Nov 3, 2014]- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014- bmeyer bmeyer Nov 4, 2014- mwall mwall Nov 4, 2014 - cweinard cweinard Nov 5, 2014 - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 - mcollerd mcollerd- heathermarie.wells heathermarie.wells Nov 5, 2014 Digital leaders in organisations need to work with HR departments to include more digital skills training and development in order to raise digital literacy, digital project management, new ways of working that are cross-functional. This issue is about change management and digital transformation as much as it is about having a 'strategy' - croyston croyston Nov 2, 2014 +1 - dhegley dhegley Nov 3, 2014- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014 - cweinard cweinard Nov 5, 2014 Comprehensive also suggests that the strategy should extend into any department that would touch on content production. Perhaps it is no longer a specifically digital strategy since the digital is now arguably part of everything we do?- AHelmreich AHelmreich Nov 2, 2014 Absolutely agree! - jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014 - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 Agreed, digital competency needs to be expected of every department and shared as a responsibility! - mcollerd mcollerd Nov 5, 2014 Agreed, but implementing cross departmental collaboration on content development is politically tricky and requires strong support from the very top. I developed a Digital Strategy based on the Tate's but was unable to get the institution to adopt it. - Psparrow Psparrow Nov 5, 2014- Psparrow Psparrow Nov 5, 2014 - heathermarie.wells heathermarie.wells Nov 5, 2014 Agree wholeheartedly with the comment above. One of the ironic truisms IMHO is that the best "digital strategy" really doesn't exist - at least not in a siloed, stand-alone manner. The best approach is for the organization to have a STRATEGY in all-caps, and for digital to be woven into the very fabric of that strategy. Leading with digital is best left to technology companies; cultural heritage organizations benefit most from the full integration of digital concepting across the strategic and tactical spectrum. Yes, this requires leadership and vision at the top; it also requires skill, communication skills, and a heads-up approach for all staff who work in digital/technology. Alignment with the mission and the biggest goals leads to success, for any operational unit. - dhegley dhegley Nov 3, 2014 Agreed! - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 Agree with the two comments directly above this one, but also would like to express some concern with the way this trend is described. In practice, "future proofing" a museum is effectively impossible (imagine how "comprehensive" five-year digital strategies written in 2006 must have seemed in 2007 after the iPhone was introduced), and I'm nervous about implying that it is, knowing how the Horizon report is often used inside institutions. I think the real challenge here is not developing comprehensive digital strategies, but adopting digital values like agility, usability, and needs focus in such a way that museums can successfully keep up with changes in the digital world (or, as we now call it, "the world"). - Koven Koven Nov 3, 2014 Here's a thoughtful post about paradigm shifts in museums in times of change - note that tech is not highlighted as an issue, it's really about how society as a whole impacts change in museums (with tech just being one aspect of that I'm guessing):http://museumquestions.com/2014/11/03/schools-and-museums-interview-with-jay-rounds/ - lkelly lkelly Nov 3, 2014 Important to note that museums must be digital because today's audiences are digital, in the sense that digital technologies have become pervasive parts of daily life. A digital strategy is not just about how an institution uses hardware/software/technology tools, or implements digital projects, its about developing a digital mindset in order to better connect with today's audiences. Even with no technology in the building, the museum would need a digital strategy. - cweinard cweinard Nov 5, 2014 https://medium.com/code-words-technology-and-theory-in-the-museum/the-moon-belongs-to-everyone-embracing-a-digital-mindset-in-museums-b73f48aa18a5 Agreed! - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 I can't help but notice a trend between institutions that lack comprehensive interpretive plans and also lack comprehensive, thoughtful digital strategies. I think there is a link between these two and obvious ways to weave them together. I think it goes back to croyston's comment about needing direction from the top down - mcollerd mcollerd Nov 5, 2014 We can be strategic and have frameworks without knowing the tactical means for how something will be done in 3 years. Flexibility and openness is key to digital strategy - but that doesn't mean 'flailing around' is the approach. Unfortunately to those unfamiliar with the fickle ways of the digital world (that world that most of us writing enjoy for its change and excitement), it must look like there is much less rhyme and reason. - lizneely.mail lizneely.mail Nov 5, 2014

Diminishing Value of Copyright
The challenge of providing the broadest possible access to content, without depriving artists, authors, and other content creators of their intellectual property and income, continues to be one of the largest issues faced by museums today. Creative Commons and other alternative forms of licensing are quickly becoming mainstream; new business models must be developed that take these forms of licensing into account. And to a large extent, these new business models depend on new content development strategies. Do living artists feel their control of copyright is being lost? What is the new balance between losing some control of art in a digital environment, versus gaining exposure by having it online? The immediate access to so much digital content today creates an audience that expects it to be online. Do we embrace this, or do we educate our audiences about why we can't? These are questions artists and museums have to grapple with today. - ortiz ortiz Oct 28, 2014 Highly agree! - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Nov 3, 2014 I suspect that, for many museums, there are a number of aspects to the copyright issue. Release of content that can easily be identified as public domain has increased over the past few years, release of metadata with a license waiver (e.g CC-0) is also becoming more common with a number of high profile releases, and I think that museums both understand and are respectful of the rights of content creators and wish to do the best they can with licensing contemporary works. The challenge that's staring at us is the potentially huge amount of material that is still in copyright, or where the copyright status is unclear (e.g. diaries and letters) and where finding the legitimate copyright holder is an onerous or impossible task. The danger is that this material will remain hidden because institutions are fearful of the ramifications of releasing it. It is this material where new business models are needed. [- ewallis ewallis Nov 3, 2014] Highly agree! - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Nov 3, 2014 A group of Belgian reserachers recently published a paper about the challenges of making in-copyright material available on 21st century digital terms. They address the very real risk that Modern and Contemporary arts and culture will fall into a black hole of invisibility/inaccessibility due to copyright restrictions in the sea of images of the Web. As an alternative, they suggest building a 'Structured Commons' with differentiated tiers of allowances for sharing and reuse of in-copyright content, for instance using the Creative Commons spectrum as a tool. The paper "Towards a Cultural Commons Approach as a Framework for Cultural Policy and Practice in a Network Society" by Hans van der Linden, Eva Van Passel, and Leen Driesen can be accessed here via this link (I have asked the authors permission to refer to it here)
http://static.squarespace.com/static/52ad3068e4b09df32bf2b17c/t/5400cab3e4b0ba5a060636ee/1409338035103/Hans%20van%20der%20Linden%20Eva%20Van%20Passel%20Leen%20Driesen.pdf - Merete.Sanderhoff Merete.Sanderhoff Nov 3, 2014 Absolutely - I think that often museums use copyright as an excuse to do nothing... Copyright won't even figure for future digital citizens (today's young people) - lkelly lkelly Nov 3, 2014 +1 - Jeff.A Jeff.A Nov 4, 2014 - jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014 - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 I also think museums are essentially caught between an industry that is woefully behind the times (copyright holders) and a public that is off and running ahead. When we are working on digital projects and contact rights holders for artists' estates (generally living artists are great to work with) the very first question-- after we have stated that it is a digital project-- is what is the print run? - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 This is a very tricky area and museums should be taking the lead in finding the balance between preserving and protecting copyright protection for artists and other content creators, and enabling the public to share and mashup that content in new and creative ways. Not easy. - Psparrow Psparrow Nov 5, 2014

Embracing Change as a Constant
Museums are, in general, conservative institutions and because of this, and a variety of other reasons, they often lag behind commercial entities and educational institutions in the adoption of new technologies. Money and staff resources are always cited as reasons for not participating, yet in general the reluctance has more to do with the fear of change. Adopting technologies may well enable museums to better accomplish their missions and serve their audiences but the community needs to become more flexible in its response to emerging trends. This is a challenge that I see as high on the list. Although museums' internal perception tends to be that they are constantly evolving, the pace of that evolution is mostly measured against other museums. When we compare that pace to outside cultures, we are falling behind in many ways, especially in relation to technology. Unfortunately, the Internet has become a cultural catalyst that speeds the development and transformation of culture. Music, art, technology, and especially learning cultures are now shifting more rapidly than we can keep up with. It's not just museums that are affected. Academics, journalism, and other "traditional" fields are struggling to keep their relevance as well. Can we change the culture of museums to be adaptable, which will be the key to our sustainability? - ortiz ortiz Oct 28, 2014 +1 - Koven Koven Nov 3, 2014 and again - rdowden rdowden Nov 4, 2014 - mcollerd mcollerd Nov 5, 2014 Agreed on all counts. As museum professionals, we need the flexibility and adaptability to culture. Museums are living histories of society, and while that allows us to be a few paces behind in order to have sufficient reflection on what just happened vs being in the absolute moment of it happening, we need to be looking forward. - Jenoleniczak Jenoleniczak Oct 30, 2014 +1 - Jeff.A Jeff.A Nov 4, 2014- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014 This is by far the greatest challenge, and unfortunately a constant. It is compounded not only by different schools of thoughts by professionals, but by visitor's differing opinions on what a museum should be. - Jeff.A Jeff.A Oct 31, 2014 Requires senior leadership that can provide a vision for transformation and methods that enable staff to make it happen.- croyston croyston Nov 2, 2014 - mcollerd mcollerd Nov 5, 2014 This is still one of the best posts on future skills IMV http://themuseumofthefuture.com/2013/01/21/a-job-description-for-future-museum-professionals/ - lkelly lkelly Nov 2, 2014- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014 - mcollerd mcollerd Nov 5, 2014 Understanding the need for 'adaptive leadership' (Heifetz) to tackle the increasing number of 'wicked problems' in this fast-changing learning and organizational environment is critically important. This leadership requires creating an 'inside' organizational culture that exists in a zone of 'productive disruption' (Heifetz) as well as an outward orientation that can imagine and situate the museum in the broader learning landscape of today's participatory culture and its expectations. - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Nov 2, 2014 Sometimes I've heard it said that museums operate on 'museum time' - a time that is glacially slow. We can take years to develop an exhibition, for example. I agree with Carolyn that a vision from senior leadership is crucial. I also think that, as a sector, we are simultaneously excellent at adopting and experimenting with new technologies and really poor at allowing the brightest sparks to run with experimentation to see where it might take them. Mike Edson talks about this opportunity and the cost of not taking it in his essay called Dark Matter https://medium.com/@mpedson/dark-matter-a6c7430d84d1 [- ewallis ewallis Nov 3, 2014] Nice - mwall mwall Nov 4, 2014 - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 The future is always tricky to predict, I wrote about the future of news here http://ajr.org/2014/10/28/radically-different-future-news/ and address the complexity of what I call the four horsemen of the techpocalypse. The collision of the IoT, wearables, geo tracking and the semantic web will change the way people create and share information and data. - Psparrow Psparrow Nov 5, 2014

Increasing Privacy Concerns
Emerging surveillance technologies hold enormous promise for evaluating and fine-tuning what museums do, and for meeting the rising demand for personalized experiences. Some museums are already installing pervasive free WiFi systems that support the use of indoor GPS and content delivery for visitors. These systems can also be harnessed to track visitors, just as retail stores are doing. In the near future, museums may also have the capability of monitoring how much of a label visitors are reading, how long they look at a pointing or their emotional reaction to an object. This would provide the ultimate in visitor feedback and offer the opportunity to feed visitors content personalized to their actual behavior. Taking a lesson from Nordstrom’s, however, museums must balance the benefits of using these technologies with the potential backlash.” [Via Trendswatch 2014] See this recent post from the Center for the Future of Museums:http://futureofmuseums.blogspot.com/2014/10/futurist-friday-graphic-look-at-big.html - AHelmreich AHelmreich Nov 2, 2014

Low Digital Fluency of Museum Professionals
There are very few examples of best practices for development of educational technology for museums, and the most progressive examples are being developed outside of the education departments. Professional development and training in how new technologies can be used to further interpretation goals and enhance visitor experiences is needed at all levels of museum education. This issue is not isolated to museum education departments and is particularly pertinent in light of the challenge above regarding infrastructure and workflow. Digital literacy needs to be achieved across the board, including in the context of managing up (i.e. museum leadership).- AHelmreich AHelmreich Oct 24, 2014 - marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Nov 2, 2014- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014- bmeyer bmeyer Nov 4, 2014 Agree - here's something I wrote awhile ago "Jones-Garmil (1997) asked, in relation to the importance of digital projects, '... why isn’t there a broader understanding at the executive or senior-staff levels of the technology and the support needed for them? Often the director or curator has a better understanding of computer systems that are running at home than those in the museum' (p.56). Interesting to note that this was written in 1997 and probably still has resonance today. - lkelly lkelly Oct 26, 2014 +1 - alex alex Oct 30, 2014 +1 - Koven Koven Nov 3, 2014 The quote above is still relevant. This trend is also somewhat related to the trend above, "Embracing Change as a Constant". Technology is always changing, now more quickly than ever. Although museum technologists have embraced this, other areas within museums seem to be reluctant, or outright ignore these changes. Much of it is top-down: if we have executive directors who are not oriented towards these technological shifts, will they create organizations that have that staff that are? - ortiz ortiz Oct 28, 2014 +1- Jeff.A Jeff.A Nov 4, 2014 One answer is for digital leaders in organisations to work with their HR and training departments to develop a new 'curriculum' for digital literacy - Digital is now part of everyone's job. This could be based around a set of digital competencies that staff are expected to meet - from senior management down. This also requires the digital department, if there is one, or digital leaders in the organisation to take on roles as facilitators, mentors and coaches to support this programme - this is part of their new skills development. Training could be delivered to staff as part of project 'on the job' work; informal sessions such as drop-ins, computer club, brown bag lunches; dedicated more formal training.- croyston croyston Nov 2, 2014 +1 - dhegley dhegley Nov 3, 2014 +1 - Jeff.A Jeff.A Nov 4, 2014 - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 I see this idea keep popping up of having HR and training departments take the lead on digital literacy, but in a time of financial stress, I don't see this as realistic. At many small/medium institutions, HR is 1-2 people and they are at capacity with the basic work flows of processing payroll and other basic staffing related issues of an institution. Also, many times these departments are not the digital experts of an instutition. They would have no way of knowing how to develop a curriculum for digital literacy or how to find these resources. I think this is a space for a 3rd party expert to fill a HUGE gap in the museum field. Or, a place for museums to collaborate and build a network or professional development space for digital literacy. - mcollerd mcollerd Nov 5, 2014 University museum studies curriculum also needs to be addressed here - what digital-readiness skills are museum studies students gaining? I think this is a big area for development and only a handful of universities are doing it well - lkelly lkelly Nov 2, 2014- marsha.semmel marsha.semmel Nov 2, 2014 Sounds like a great potential for museum-university partnership(s) - dhegley dhegley Nov 3, 2014 This is such a huge part of the problem; so huge, in fact, that the failure of museum studies (and related professional programs, like conservation training) programs to keep up might need to be addressed as its own challenge. Most museum studies programs (if you're lucky) cram all of their digital training into a single class, which is often not even required. - Koven Koven Nov 3, 2014 The good news is there are many online opportunities for supplementing the standard curriculum. Coursera is just one example offering courses on Content Development Strategy https://www.coursera.org/course/contentstrategy Virtual Instruction https://www.coursera.org/course/k12virtualtrends and even Application Development https://www.coursera.org/course/androidapps101 . Not an alternative to integrating this kind of instruction into current programs, but certainly a good place to start. - Jeff.A Jeff.A Nov 4, 2014 - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 There is an aspect here that goes beyond training staff and increasing digital fluency. I cannot the count the number of times I've been engaged in conversations with senior museum folks (execs and trustees) in which we are using the same terms but simply not connecting. Both of us are making deep assumptions about what certain terms and technologies mean - both practically and philosophically. Backing up the discussion to common ground may seem hard to do, but its vital to make sure that everyone is actually talking about the same thing. - dhegley dhegley Nov 3, 2014- jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014 - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014

Measuring the Impact of New Technologies
Museums are good at traditional program evaluation, but determining the impact of new technologies on knowledge, attitudes, and skills is more challenging, especially when museum educators are attempting to measure the success of technologies that may be as yet unfamiliar to them. At the same time, there is also a bit of the “chicken and the egg” in understanding the rapidly changing technological environment. A balance must be struck between trying new things, and the very prudent and sensible desire to invest in proven strategies. There must be demonstration projects to evaluate; in some cases, the data to establish efficacy are simply not yet available, and other criteria, such as a desire to be first to market with a new idea, must be allowed room in the decision framework. Yes, sometimes just trying something out is the way to go! - lkelly lkelly Oct 26, 2014 This is a tough question for all of us that are working in the area of museum evaluation. It's not impossible to measure the impact of technology. What is more tough is knowing if that technology is in alignment with the museum's mission and goals. Museums sometimes use technology as a solution, rather than seeing it as a tool that's part of the larger experience. - ortiz ortiz Oct 28, 2014 Agree! - Sam Sam Oct 30, 2014 - AHelmreich AHelmreich Nov 2, 2014 +1 - dhegley dhegley Nov 3, 2014 +1 - Koven Koven Nov 3, 2014 AbsolutelyA +1 - Jeff.A Jeff.A Nov 4, 2014 - jludden jludden Nov 4, 2014 +1 - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 All the more reason for museum professionals to share their work and experiences with emerging technologies as many on the panel of experts do through blogs, etc. There a many excellent examples but here's two: http://labs.cooperhewitt.org/ & http://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/section/digital-media ( - ryand ryand Oct 30, 2014 ) and here http://musdigi.wordpress.com/ :-) - lkelly lkelly Nov 2, 2014 I would love to see more "Lean Startup" methodologies creeping into digital production in museums, in which projects would only be carried out with specific, measurable, goals in mind. I think that measuring impact would be easier if we worked backwards from hypotheses rather than just building stuff that sounds exciting and hoping that we can figure out if it worked or not. - Koven Koven Nov 3, 2014- bmeyer bmeyer Nov 4, 2014 - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 This is where branching out from traditional partnerships is very effective. New technologies are a mystery for all, far beyond our world of museum professionals. An example I can recall the medical community turning to the gaming community. Here is one example of a far more effective approach to understanding problems relating to molecular biology:http://www.washington.edu/news/2010/08/04/gaming-for-a-cure-computer-gamers-tackle-protein-folding/ - Jeff.A Jeff.A Nov 4, 2014 Chasing the next big thing is a fools errand. Museum educators and curators and media producers should focus on the visitor experience. What are you trying to create, what is the experience about, what is the point and the intended goal. Only then do you turn to look at technology and determine what is the best solution. Starting with technology means its out of date when its installed. - Psparrow Psparrow Nov 5, 2014

Improving Accessibility for Disabled Populations
With more than 50 million Americans with disabilities, museums need to continue to improve the accessibility of facilities, exhibitions, and programs for this important population. In order to reach this audience, museums are investing more thought into the way educational programs and didactic materials are presented. Technology can aid in increasing accessibility by breaking down barriers. Haptic technology, for example, enables blind and partially sighted individuals to touch virtual 3D objects. Additionally, museums can bridge this divide by creating special content for visitors with disabilities who are already bringing advanced technology along with them. This is a trend and a challenge, and I hope it's something we move to being high on the list. A number of products and applications are available or are in development that will enhance the museums experience for our guests. The Pebble is a good example of an affordable technology that can be used for a number of different audiences to assist them. With the ability for us to create media at a much lower cost than anytime in history, can we use these tools to offer disabled guests new ways of engaging and exploring what we do? - ortiz ortiz Oct 28, 2014 Agreed - AHelmreich AHelmreich Nov 2, 2014 With aging of population this topic will be more and more relevant. Furthermore, museums can be very helpful in challenges related to dementia. - kaja kaja Nov 2, 2014 We are also going to have a growth in diagnosed adult autism. Something museums should be things about. http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/20/health/autism-adults/ - mwall mwall Nov 4, 2014

Managing Knowledge Obsolescence
Simply staying organized and current presents a challenge in a world where information, software tools, and devices proliferate at the rate they do today. New developments in technology are exciting and their potential for improving quality of life is enticing, but it can be overwhelming to attempt to keep up with even a few of the many new tools that are released. User-created content is exploding, giving rise to information, ideas, and opinions on all sorts of interesting topics, but following even some of the hundreds of available authorities means sifting through a mountain of information on a weekly or daily basis. There is a greater need than ever for effective tools and filters for finding, interpreting, organizing, and retrieving the data that is important to us.

Added as New Challenges


Staying Focused on the Original Object
Sometimes, in our bid to keep up to date with the latest in technological trends it is easy to lose sight of our core responsibilities - collecting / exhibiting / interpreting our unique objects. Museums can be many things and while we all obviously promote community actions, accessibility for all, an a multi-voiced educational agenda in our museums, at the end of the day what makes our physical spaces stand out from the deluge of Facebook likes, Instagram favorites or passionate Tweets are our material, and often unique objects. Sometimes we need to pause and remind ourselves not to get carried away with our own enthusiasm to promote new media in the gallery. (This is probably about the worst place to make such as comment; considering my esteemed colleagues and why we are all here) but my point here, under the category of Critical Challenges related to education and interpretation that museums will face is being able to maintain the 'museum-ness' of the museum in a digital world. This is what sets us apart and this is the responsibility we need to keep in focus. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/29/arts/design/european-museums-straining-under-weight-of-popularity.html?_r=0 - shazan shazan Oct 31, 2014 I'm repeating myself I suppose, but chiming in on agreement to a degree. If the goal of a technology project is to show off new technology, I'd be inclined not to pursue the project. We make sure that all projects deliver audience engagement, first and foremost. Some audiences are deeply engaged by digital, some are completely put off by it, and most are somewhere in between. By working iteratively and actively using visitor feedback, I firmly believe we can deliver experiences that augment a visit and delight our audiences. By the way, I'd be hard-pressed to create a list of museums who are so carried away with technology that they've lost their way and under-prioritized their missions. Almost all digital projects are attempts to engage, inform, inspire, and/or delight audiences. It's natural that some will work better than others; sharing our formal evaluations is vitally important so that we can all learn from each other. - dhegley dhegley Nov 3, 2014 +1 - lkelly lkelly Nov 3, 2014 Let's hear it for audience engagement! - jfoley jfoley Nov 5, 2014 "... at the end of the day what makes our physical spaces stand out..." that's assuming that our physical spaces are more important - they may be in revenue terms but way more people visit museums online than physically so where does the role of the physical object fit in that case? Too much focus on our physical site comes at a cost - how many museums have larger digital departments than exhibition departments? Not many in Australia I'm afraid. Wouldn't it be cool to turn that right around? - lkelly lkelly Nov 3, 2014

Combined with Existing Technology Topics in RQ4


Overcoming Distractions in the Digital Age
Research is ongoing about how digital technologies are impacting learning styles traditionally recognized by educators as well as potentially creating new learning styles. e.g. http://web.media.mit.edu/~mres/papers.html This is also related to ongoing research (and polemics) concerning attention and distraction in the digital age. http://projectinfolit.org/smart-talks/item/101-cathy-davidson-how-disruption-and-distraction-are-remaking-learning. How can we harness this research to ask first what "what are the essentials of good teaching and learning" in the digital age? Then, and only if needed, seek out the technologies to help deliver that learning or interpretative experience -- created in dialogue with museum visitors. Could the answers be counter-intuitive? http://harvardmagazine.com/2013/11/the-power-of-patience http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/nov/05/digital-distractions-attention-spans-tv-series - AHelmreich AHelmreich Oct 24, 2014 And how use of digital tech is changing our brains? http://musdigi.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/the-reading-brain-in-the-digital-age/ - lkelly lkelly Oct 26, 2014 [Editor's Note: Great points in here to add to the rich discussion in the RQ4 technology topic Balancing Our Connected and Unconnected Lives.]