e-Kids' College November 2007

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 29 Apr 2010

This is a blog post from November 2007 about our e-Kids’ College that was on my old blog. I have reproduced it here as people have been asking for it!

School children participation in workshop

School children participation in workshop
Photographer: Jennifer Miller © Australian Museum

e-Kids' College: Thursday November 2007

It's an exciting day for us here at the Museum. Around 24 students from schools across NSW are attending the second of our Kids’ Colleges. This one is looking at digital technologies, how young people are using the web and to explore how e-learning relate to museums and young people. I'll attempt to blog as we go with my impressions so this may be a long and fragmented post ...

Morning Session
We asked students what is it like to learn using computers and digital technologies and what do they think about the web, their responses:

  • You can do anything, go anywhere in the world, and do anything unexpected and find anything.
  • Web is about bringing things together and mixing them (people and things).
  • Web opens new doors and new discoveries.
  • Finding unexpected things, using shortcuts, learning more about how to use it.
  • The internet is big, lots of stuff to discover and find out.
  • Wild and unexpected and creative.

Next we went on a visit – one to the Palaeontology collection and one to the Museum's search and discover area. We were curious to find out how objects in the Museum could be made more interesting by supplementing them through digital technologies. All ideas were great and really useful. Some from my group were:

  • An interactive collection space where you click on a cupboard, drawer etc and then have objects to explore
  • 3D mapping of objects that you could rotate and explore further

We also got them to complete a survey with ten of their friends before they came here. As part of this they also completed the sentence: Not being able to access the web is like not being able to ... What they said can be found here.

The final activity we did this morning was to think about websites by looking at a site called ShowMe. This got a really bad review unfortunately and they felt that the site was developed by older people who weren't in touch with them ... Since they didn't like it we asked them to show us what sites they did like. Two sites from my group were FreeRice, where you learn about vocabulary/words while contributing to a good cause. They loved the colours and clean design of that site too. The other was MiniClip Games, for storing games which they felt was really well-organised, easy to find the games and fun as well.

One thing that struck me as they talked was that they felt the Museum's site was the place where we should store our content, videos, images and so on, not necessarily YouTube, Flickr and other places. They felt we should separate ourselves from what they perceive as fun sites – I'm not sure about this myself and is something that I'll be exploring further.

Afternoon session
What we did this afternoon was for the students to interview some of the Museum's scientists about what they do and their personal and professional interests. Mark and Amanda fielded many questions about their work and how they got interested in their field of work.

There were some really provocative and interesting questions from the students. One lovely one was How do we know what people know and what people don't know? Mark answered that by reminding us that all the answers aren't always to be found on the internet and that there are really cool books that you can use too. They also asked What was the most interesting thing they had discovered? Mark discovered a new species of wallaby, and Amanda's friend also discovered a new species of fish. Other questions were: What is the most weirdest and wackiest thing you've ever done in your job? Any scary experiences? Where's the most interesting place you've been to? Thanks Mark and Amanda, I know I learned more about you two who I usually see every day! Now I understand more about your passions and why you got into doing what you do. Amanda reminded us to hang in there as it may take some time to get some paid work. Vieeos of Mark and Amanda are here.

The discussions have been really productive, some ideas that emerged at the end were that they:

  • don't want to use mobiles for accessing internet as they are too hard to use (with small keyboards, etc), the screens are no good and they don't have a mouse to use, although when I asked them about whether they'd like to use some kind of mobile device throughout the Museum to gather content they were really keen
  • suggested that we have a blog with question of the week that they can email in
  • would like to have a section on the website where they could leave a comment/feedback about their experiences and see what others have said
  • really wanted to talk to scientists via some kind of video link, where you log in and talk to them in real time online
  • felt we should be uploading video content both to our own site and YouTube (they admit their views on this had changed over the day)

The day finished with us going on a tour of an area that the Museum is thinking about turning into a new media space. And after that we thanked them, gave each school a certificate and finished!

Thanks so much for all your efforts as we now have a goldmine of information we can use when developing our new website and other digital technologies.