University of the Arts London (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 553-560
ISBN: 978-84-09-45476-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2022.0178
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic museums closed their doors. An acceleration of online museum databases made available to the public resulted. Furthermore, the death of George Floyd (2020) and ensuing protests inflamed existing debates on the future of the museum and the colonial past of European cultural institutions. Concurrently, the UK Higher Education sector witnessed a rapid shift to blended modes of learning and an urgency to decolonise the curriculum. Online museums have a key role to play here in supporting access to hidden voices and histories, and student projects that expose new perspectives. Yet, an adoption to a hybrid (online and in-person) approach to teaching requires suitable tools for an inspirational and transformative learning experience to be achieved. This research highlights the design of online museum briefs for students studying on an undergraduate fashion design course. The issue of how to facilitate object-based learning in the absence of physical access or touch is addressed here. While the question of how online museum resources can offer an enriched, decolonised learning experience that reveals new meanings and values drove my pedagogic explorations. Approaches which included building resources with students and designing online museum activities will be shared here.

Within this action research project, the first intervention was designing and adapting museum briefs for both on campus and online only modes of study. The second intervention was an online museum and gallery session that I designed and delivered. The online visit introduced students to google arts & culture and various other digital resources. Within the session, we also discussed the museum and colonialism, museum and gallery labels, perspectives and hidden voices and histories. As the online museum and gallery session was recorded, I conducted a retrospective observation and analysis of the session. Secondly, I designed and delivered a follow up reflective session for a sample of student participants who had attended the online museum visit. The session gave students an opportunity to reflect both collectively and individually on their experience of using online museums and galleries. I also conducted a visual analysis of students work completed in the online museum and gallery visits. I did this by identifying specific categories through which to view the work.

This research has unveiled the positives and challenges of using online museum and collections from a student’s perspective. The positive aspects of their experience reveal the value of integrating this type of resource in their learning journey – it pushed them out of their comfort zone, introduced new perspectives, and helped them to develop criticality, which are all important in Higher Education. The findings have revealed the challenges students faced such as not knowing where to start, finding limited information on artworks and the difficulty in gauging scale. In response to the findings, I have designed interventions to enhance student’s experience when using online museums and collections.

This presentation will be useful for any lecturers who are interested in integrating and utilising online museums and collections in their curriculum as it outlines the action research project conducted and will provide valuable tips and suggestions.
Higher Education, blended learning, online teaching tools, object analysis, online museums, decolonisation of the curriculum.