Title:The Localized Learner: Acknowledging Distance and Situatedness in On-Line Museum Learning
Authors:Ross Parry, Nadia Arbach
Publication:MW2005: Museums and the Web 2005

In the current trajectory of on-line museum learning, an environment has emerged where locality and the specificity of place are now key levers for content creation and user experience. This paper explores the ways in which the on-line museum, mirroring practices in the business world and the education sector, is becoming sensitive to where its users are located. It considers how museums (on-line and off-line) have attempted to understand and make provision for individual visitor circumstance. By looking specifically at examples of localized Web-based museum resources, it highlights how museums are increasingly acknowledging the localized settings of on-line users. The paper suggests a more layered typology of localization, informed by sociological readings of spatial production, in order to differentiate between location (the physical, geographical position of the learner), place (the type of space the learner perceives himself/herself to be in), and situation (the learner's circumstance, activity or intent). It also suggests how this more discerning vocabulary (with the different implications and consequences that follow from each term) might help providers better articulate the concept of localization in order to support more focused provision and clearer objectives. Finally, by calling attention to some of the challenges that remain in developing localized resources for on-line learners, the paper ends by foregrounding some of the questions that further debate, research and the sharing of best practice may help to answer.