Posted on | April 5, 2009 | 2 Comments
In this podcast we get to hear from two people who are very largely responsible for inspiring the MuseumMobile podcasts: Beth Harris and Steven Zucker. Both were art history professors at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York when they founded SmartHistory.org as an online art history resource for their students and others. SmartHistory brings the ancient concept of the Socratic dialogue into the web 2.0 world with podcast conversations about art that open up a critical space for the listener to engage in the conversation, and model the process through which experts learn and arrive at their opinions.
Beth has now joined MoMA in New York as the Director of Digital Learning. She, Steven and I are joined by Deborah Howes, head of educational media at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Titus Bicknell, technology analyst and former chief engineer for Antenna Audio. Over lunch on New Year’s day in 2009, we talk about why people don’t tend to prepare for their museum visit by downloading podcast tours and other materials – as they might for a run, a flight, or their daily commutes – and what museums can do about it in light of the ‘digital age divide’. We consider the other end of the visit lifecycle as well, in terms of how people can ‘bookmark’ and take information away from the museum for deeper study later – but will only want to do so if the content they encounter during their visit has ‘put them in the picture’ and engaged them. At the heart of the conversation is the question of conversation itself as a context for learning, and how its strategic use helps transform the museum from Acropolis into Agora: a platform where many voices can come together and even the amateur and the outsider are empowered to make discoveries, fall in love, and sing of their passions.