Title:From Physical to Digital: Recent Research into the Discovery, Analysis, and Use of Museums Resources by Classroom Educators and Students
Authors:Darren Milligan, Melissa Wadman
Publication:MW2015: Museums and the Web 2015

Museums have long identified teachers and their students as primary audiences. Through object loans, lesson plans, and more recently digital resources, our institutions have recognized the potential for the narratives told through exhibitions to reach students outside the museum walls. Many of these traditional models no longer reflect the realities of the contemporary classroom, one being rapidly transformed by budget shortcomings, evolving teaching standards, and the potential of new technologies. Museums are uniquely positioned to play a greater role in formal education. In order to meet this potential, museums can benefit from understanding the needs of these audiences and the capabilities of their institutions to meet them.

Since 2010, the Smithsonian, through its Center for Learning and Digital Access, has conducted a series of research projects to better understand how teachers and their students use museum learning resources. This formal paper will share the results of the following five independent, yet progressional, studies and offer usable best practices garnered from a meta-analysis of their results combined with other recent literature in this field:

1. Remedial Evaluation of the Materials Distributed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Annual Teachers’ Night (2010)
2. Capturing the Voice of Customer, a Satisfaction Insight Review of (2011)
3. Digital Learning Resources Project (2012)
4. Increasing the Discoverability of Smithsonian Digital Resources: Learning Resource Metadata Initiative (LRMI) (2014)
5. Piloting Tools to Enable Active and Participatory Learning for Middle School Students: Facilitating Digital Learning with Smithsonian Digital Resources (2014)

A meta-summary of these research findings, combined with recent literature, will be shared as a suite of best practices for connecting museum assets with teachers and students.