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Digital History

Guest post by Emily Dunnack, Connecticut Historical Society

Today marks the halfway point of SHA! I think all of us are at the point where we are beginning to take some of the information we’ve learned and examples we’ve seen and thinking about how everything fits in (or doesn’t) in our current institutions and jobs.

The theme for today was DIGITAL HISTORY. Our faculty was Tim Grove, Chief of Education at the National Air and Space Museum and Lisa Fischer, Director of the Digital History Center, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

We started off with the YouTube video Social Media Revolution, which was equal parts exhilarating and terrifying and pretty much set the tone for the day:

It was a day full of information, discussion, and examples and while I would love to be able to write a nice little blog wrap up, the biggest thing I took away were questions. These are the questions I’ll be thinking about, talking about during SHA, and taking back with me to my institution:

– What are the benefits and risks of cultivating a culture of user generated content?
– How are museums using technology on-site? Via mobile devices? Online?

Materials from Rev Quest- a great example from Colonial Williamsburg of a game using web technology and mobile texting to enhance to online and onsite visitor experience.

– What are the advantages of using the technology available? What are the limitations?
– How does your web presence impact the overall visitor experience to your institution?
– Where does social media fit into your staff and how is it handled?
– How do you prioritize digitization projects?
– How do you build into your budget the necessary maintenance costs for technology?
– Where do our objects fit into all of this?
– How do small museums with limited staff and budgets begin to implement some of these new ideas?

We ended the day on a lighter note with an activity to show how people navigate websites. One of us volunteered for our institution’s website to be the guinea pig and Maureen and Leo were tasked with navigating the website, narrating out loud as they searched for the answers to a series of questions. What are the hours? Where is a specific teacher curriculum? What is the museum’s mission? This simple activity very effectiviely demonstrated some major flaws in the demo website and would be a great activity to take back to your staff and begin the process of rethinking your website.

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