What Kind of Learning Are We Doing? The State of our Education during the Pandemic

April 16, 2020

After last week’s American Association for State and Local History’s Conversation series on Empathetic Audience Engagement During a Crisis which focused on how museums should be addressing the needs of and helping the members in the community, I decided to take a look at what is happening with education outside of the museum field. I wanted to see what education experts are discussing and sharing with the public on addressing learning during this pandemic, and to see what else museums are doing as well as what museums could do for our communities. The following is some information I have been gathering on the current state of our education system.

Our educational system was especially affected by the pandemic when the school buildings closed for the rest of the school year, and left students, parents, and teachers with the task of attempting to continue education from their homes. Museum professionals do what they can to reach out to the community with resources on coping with the stress, anxiety, and many emotions we are feeling while living in a pandemic; they also provide education programs for varying audiences including students, teachers, and families. We have seen varying types of museum programs and activities released on their websites and social media platforms. We are also seeing reactions to and a lot of discussion about the current state of our education system.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution released an opinion piece earlier this month that was guest written by two University of Georgia professors in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice, Stephanie Jones and Hilary Hughes. Hughes and Jones discussed in Opinion: This is not home schooling, distance learning or online schooling on how learning has changed during this pandemic and that it is different from the learning mediums we are used to under normal circumstances. They made these points in their piece:

So, let’s call this what it is: Covid-19 Schooling; or better yet, Teaching and Learning in Covid-19. What we’re doing today is teaching and learning to be in Covid-19.

This is not business as usual and it is unethical to act as if it could be. No one can (or should) expect the Covid-19 schooling happening at home to be anything close to usual, and perhaps this moment is providing all of us a chance to do something different: learn to be.

We continue to figure out each day how to proceed teaching and learning while we are facing this pandemic. It is most likely hard at first to figure out a new routine for education especially for parents and guardians who are suddenly have to deal with finding ways to educate their children; for students who have to adjust to not being able to interact with their peers and teachers as they are used to; and for educators who have to figure out quickly how to transition their lessons into an online format.

Hughes and Jones’ article was included in a reading list from a recorded podcast on WBUR-FM (Boston’s NPR News Station)’s website. They were also guests on the podcast with Luvelle Brown (superintendent of the Ithaca City School District in New York) and Henry Bucher (7th Grader at Deerpark Middle School in Austin, Texas) whose school district moved asynchronous learning via Google Classroom. All of the guest speakers on the podcast episode called COVID-19 Learning: How Parents, Teachers And Professors Are Adapting Their Approach To Education shared their insights on what is happening with education during the crisis and how they are coping with the transitions. They also stressed that what is important right now for education is for students to learn how to be, and this is an opportunity to take a moment to learn how to live in this new reality. The reading list also includes advice from a homeschool teacher and an article from the Washington Post about education leaders conclusions on the effect the crisis has on children’s learning.

The NWEA, a research-based, not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators worldwide by creating assessment solutions that precisely measure growth and proficiency as well as providing insights to help tailor instruction, released possible outcomes of the coronavirus closures in article on their site (their information can be found in the resources list below). They pointed out some cautions while sharing the projections:

While the COVID-19 school closures have some characteristics in common with a summer break, many school systems and families across the country are implementing various online curriculum, instruction, and progress monitoring resources to offset the disruption. However, trauma, joblessness, and an increase in the number of families facing food insecurity, homelessness, domestic violence, and even the illness or death of a loved one could make academic projections even bleaker for our most vulnerable populations.

We need to remember that the families and educators are going through a lot in their personal lives while trying to figure out how to keep education going during this pandemic, and find a way to support them not just by promoting educational opportunities. The authors of the article continued by sharing what must be done to start supporting educators and families during this time:

Policymakers and the education community should further their work to provide support, especially in math, to students while school is disrupted.

Educators will need data now more than ever to guide curriculum and instruction to support students.

Researchers, policymakers, and schools should work together to understand potential policies and practices for recovery.

In the meantime, we should connect with our communities more than we previously have in the museum field to learn what they need from us.

There are a number of places that are contributing to provide assistance to help parents, guardians, students, and educators through this unpredictable time. For example, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center shared an online Care Package which is a collection of creative offerings by artists, writers, and scholars who they have collaborated with in recent years. The care package includes varying approaches to addressing uncertainty, anxiety, and grief through vision, reflection, and healing. Also, Google provided a hub of information and tools for teachers to help them during the crisis to help make teaching online easier.

As museum professionals, we should remember to take care of the human needs of our audiences as well as provide virtual education resources. Stay safe out there, and remember to be good to one another.

Links:

Opinion: This is not home schooling, distance learning or online schooling: https://www.ajc.com/blog/get-schooled/opinion-this-not-home-schooling-distance-learning-online-schooling/b9rNnK77eyVLhsRMhaqZwL/

AASLH Conversations: Empathetic Audience Engagement During a Crisis: https://learn.aaslh.org/products/recorded-webinar-aaslh-conversations-empathetic-audience-engagement-during-a-crisis

COVID-19 Learning: How Parents, Teachers And Professors Are Adapting Their Approach To Education: https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/04/15/covid-19-learning

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s Care Package: https://smithsonianapa.org/care/

Google’s Teach from Home: https://teachfromhome.google/intl/en/

 

Museums Offering Virtual Experiences during the Pandemic

March 26, 2020

We are all in this together, and museum communities around the world are sharing virtual experiences they have created before the pandemic or because of the pandemic. This past week I shared previous blog posts about the significance of virtual experiences in the museum field. Current events prove that virtual learning and experiences are vital more than ever. I have been researching virtual experiences that are currently being offered since I am currently working with the Education Committee at the Three Village Historical Society to create virtual learning experience, and this project was one of the reasons why I was inspired to see what museums are offering.

I came across Scholastic’s resources which provide online classroom resources and lesson plans from museums across the United States. One of the Scholastic’s resources includes a virtual field trip to the Museum of the American Revolution with Lauren Tarshis, author of the best-selling “I Survived” book series including “I Survived the American Revolution, 1776”. Including an introduction and a behind the scenes tour, the site also includes a vocabulary list, discussion questions, a frequently asked questions sheet, and Lauren Tarshis’s narrative nonfiction article “Blood, Smoke and Freedom,” about the experiences of one of the young soldiers featured in the virtual field trip for each grade level between grade 2 and grade 8. The Museum of the American Revolution itself provides resources from their own website available. In addition to the virtual field trip, the Museum of the American Revolution also other digital resources including but not limited to a virtual tour of the museum, an archive of Read the Revolution book excerpts, a digitized collection of the Museum’s art and artifacts, the Museum’s comprehensive lesson plans, and a free coloring book.

Another museum that has a virtual presence is the Mill Museum-The Windham Textile History Museum. The staff last month opened their new exhibit called “Unlacing the Corset, Unleashing the Vote” celebrating the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Because the museum was closed due to the coronavirus, they created a virtual version of this exhibit. According to the exhibit’s introduction label, the exhibit uses stories, fashion, undergarments, and photographs to explore the collective of Connecticut women’s experiences in the century since the 19th Amendment. The exhibit focuses on fashion for political empowerment which is reflected in increasing choices about clothes, styles, and comfort. The virtual exhibit features a narrative about early 20th century women’s history focused on women from mill towns of the northeast and photographs of the collections featured in the exhibit.

There are virtual experiences offered in museums outside of the United States. Some of the examples I found were on the MCN website. MCN, a not-for-profit corporation that envisions a world in which all museums are empowered digitally to achieve their missions, posted a very well detailed list of virtual museum experiences around the world in their post “The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Museum Resources, E-Learning, and Online Collections”. The list is broken up into a number of sections including virtual tours/online exhibits, e-learning, online collections, and digital archives & libraries as well as subsections for art, science, and history museums. The Royal Albert Memorial Museum, for instance, offers an e-learning experience that has an interactive timeline on its website. The Canadian Museum of Nature has an e-learning experience for kids with coloring pages of Artic animals and plants, garden plants, and dinosaurs. The Musée du Louvre in Paris and the São Paolo Museum of Art in Brazil are offering a virtual tour of the museums. Also, Les Fruits de Mer, a non-profit French association based in Grand Case, Saint Martin, provided lists of resources of activities, books, films, et. cetera about Caribbean wildlife.

Museums have previously been offering museum experiences online to reach out to their audiences as our world is becoming more accessible through technology. This has been evident especially in previous blog posts I have re-shared on social media with lists of resources I found at the time I wrote those posts. With many museums closing their doors of their physical museums due to the pandemic, it is important for museums to connect to its audiences, reach out to new audiences, and its museum professionals with one another through the virtual world. Numerous resources from museums are available on the internet for individuals of all ages, and it would impossible to explain each one in full detail without making this blog post too overwhelming.

I have included a list of resources I have come across in my search for virtual experiences for all of you to explore in your own time. If there are any resources you would like to share, please continue to share them. Stay safe and be good to one another!

Resources:

https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome/grades-3-5.html

http://www.scholastic.com/beyondthebattlefield/

http://www.scholastic.com/webcasts/

https://www.amrevmuseum.org/education/digital-resources?utm_source=welcome-mark-text&utm_medium=cc&utm_campaign=welcome-mark-text-cc-ongoing-general1

https://millmuseum.org/current-exhibit/

http://mcn.edu/a-guide-to-virtual-museum-resources/

https://springfieldmuseums.org/about/updates/

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/68-cultural-historical-and-scientific-collections-you-can-explore-online-180974475/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20200323-daily-responsive&spMailingID=42092612&spUserID=MTQ4MDg3NTIwNDQ0S0&spJobID=1722260882&spReportId=MTcyMjI2MDg4MgS2

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/weeks-best-livestream-learning-opportunities-180974465/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20200323-daily-responsive&spMailingID=42092612&spUserID=MTQ4MDg3NTIwNDQ0S0&spJobID=1722260882&spReportId=MTcyMjI2MDg4MgS2

https://www.cilc.org/community

https://www.docsteach.org/

https://www.civicsrenewalnetwork.org/featured/resources-for-learning-at-home/

https://www.archives.gov/legislative/resources

https://founders.archives.gov/

https://anamericaninrome.com/wp/2020/03/italy-museums-visit-for-free-online/

https://adventuresinfamilyhood.com/20-virtual-field-trips-to-take-with-your-kids.html

https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours

Previous Posts on Museums and the Virtual Experience:

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2017/05/13/museum-education-online-museums-position-in-the-virtual-world/

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2019/08/01/virtual-museum-experiences-impressions-of-museum-education-roundtables-journal-of-museum-education/

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2020/02/20/how-virtual-exhibits-can-be-accessible/

How are Museums Dealing with the Coronavirus?

March 12, 2020

Since the coronavirus cases emerged in the past couple of weeks in the United States, there have been many questions people had about the coronavirus and what we should be doing to help prevent the spread. Museums are dedicated to both serving and being a part of the community as trustworthy resources. To do so, museum professionals need to make decisions to protect the staff, volunteers, and visitors especially from spread of diseases and viruses such as the coronavirus. Museums and non-profits are working hard to find out what decisions they need to make that will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Because there have been concerns expressed by many individuals, museum professionals need to take many things into considerations especially the health and safety of their visitors while figuring out how to financially support their museum operations. As the staff and board meet to figure out how they will move forward, they are listening to health experts and making decisions based on what the state policy is put in place for the state they are located in. There are museums that decided to take precautions and cancel public programs because of escalating health concerns relating to the spread of the coronavirus; they also point out their priorities are the health and safety of their visitors, and recommend their visitors to follow the guidance of the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which includes watching for the symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Also, the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) stated that they are collecting recommendations and resources more specific to historic sites and other history organizations and will share these as they become available. The New England Museum Association (NEMA) stated on their Twitter account: We’re keeping track of our region’s responses to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation. We will be adding updates on this thread of how our area museums are responding.

The American Alliance of Museums released resources and information for the museum field to help individual museums prepare both internally and externally for outbreaks in their communities. Some of the information they shared include educating the public on COVID-19, reviewing staff policies and administrative concerns, reviewing cleaning and collections care policies, preparing for closures, preparing for COVID-19 as an individual, and using digital platforms to remain connected to audiences during quarantines.

Tonight’s MuseumEdChat on Twitter was about sharing information about what our museums response are to COVID-19. Also, a Google Doc was released to share resources as well as museum/programming cancellations that will be continually updated. Some of the questions discussed were: did your museum have an emergency plan in place prior to COVID-19, or are you developing or modifying one as the situation develops? Bonus: did you consult with anyone on your plan? Our discussion reinforces the point that museum professionals have a lot of considerations when trying to figure out plans as our country faces the coronavirus pandemic.

Museums are also making decisions based on the safety of their staff and volunteers by postponing or cancelling professional development programs while most are waiting to see if new developments in the spread occurred when it gets closer to the programs. The New York City Museum Educators, for instance, postponed their professional development program and would re-open registration for the program once they confirm a new date. Also, the Museum Association of New York’s (MANY), as of the date this blog post will be released, Board of Directors are meeting and have contacted the venues and legislative representatives to help gauge their response to let members know what is happening with the annual conference. It is hard to not let fear take over our senses, but we should learn the facts and take the appropriate precautions.

The most responsible thing we could do is to educate ourselves on not only what it is, but we should understand how to properly take care ourselves. I included a number of resources to help provide knowledge on the coronavirus. Also, I discovered a course offered by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (which is a world leader in research and postgraduate education in public and global health, and its mission is to improve health and health equity worldwide) through FutureLearn, and in the course you could learn the latest of what we know about COVID-19, presented by international experts. I implore you all to take care of yourselves, and be good to one another.

*As of March 13, 2020, AASLH released a blog post on four steps that can be taken if feeling overwhelmed by COVID-19 preparations: https://aaslh.org/covid-prep-4-steps/

Resources:

Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

Daily Updates: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Links:

#MuseumEdChat COVID-19 Response Resource List

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/uk-museums-coronavirus-1795818

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/08/813396080/coronavirus-italy-orders-massive-shutdown-amid-spread

https://advisor.museumsandheritage.com/news/museums-around-the-world-respond-to-coronavirus-fears/

https://nonprofitquarterly.org/coronavirus-brings-nonprofits-unexpected-costs-even-at-its-earliest-stages/

https://nonprofitaf.com/2020/03/a-few-things-for-nonprofits-and-foundations-to-consider-in-light-of-the-coronavirus/

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/rome-raphael-coronavirus-quarantine-1797390

https://observer.com/2020/03/museums-prepare-for-coronavirus-us-outbreak/

https://www.aam-us.org/programs/resource-library/human-resource-resources/health-in-the-workplace/

https://www.aam-us.org/2020/03/05/information-for-the-museum-field-on-the-covid-19-coronavirus/

Course: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/covid19-novel-coronavirus?utm_campaign=fl_march_2020&utm_medium=futurelearn_organic_email&utm_source=newsletter_broadcast&utm_term=200310_GNL__0030_&utm_content=course05_cta

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/28/809580453/just-for-kids-a-comic-exploring-the-new-coronavirus?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social