Title:Teaching the Digital Museum: A Collaborative Museum-University Partnership to Develop Curriculum for Digital Interaction
Authors:Gabby Resch, Sabrina Greupner
Publication:MW2020: MuseWeb 2020

What are the opportunities and challenges facing educators across the institutional and academic divide as they introduce emerging museum professionals to new digital technologies? What levels of technical experience will their students require in order to navigate the shifting sands of digital museum interaction? What technical skills must emerging professionals possess in order to successfully prepare for digital innovations they are likely to encounter in their careers? These are among the various questions we were forced to address in designing and implementing a new graduate course focused on digital interaction in museums. This paper will describe a partnership between management at a prominent science centre (the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, Canada) and instructional faculty in an established museum studies graduate program (the Master of Museum Studies program at the University of Toronto, or MMSt). This collaboration was initiated in order to build experiential curriculum that would give students direct experience with digital technologies and interaction methods they can expect to see in a variety of museum contexts. In the paper, we will describe the numerous challenges we faced in attempting to bridge theoretical, critical, technical, and professional concerns as we developed a new course titled "The Digital Museum: From Strategy to Implementation,” which had its first run in early 2019. Recognizing that a significant number of our 35 enrolled students would enter this course with limited technical and design skills, we had to make various compromises in our course design as we attempted to survey a range of new interactive technologies (from augmented reality to 3D printing) while presenting students with contexts in which they could gain hands-on experience with these technologies. In summarizing our experiences, we will discuss new pedagogical opportunities that we hope to capitalize on in future iterations of this course.