Museums and the Web

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Take Two: A Study of the Co-Creation of Knowledge on Museum Web 2.0 Sites

TitleTake Two: A Study of the Co-Creation of Knowledge on Museum Web 2.0 Sites
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsGrabill, J., Pigg S., & Wittenauer K.
Secondary TitleMuseums and the Web 2009. Proceedings
Conference Start DateApril 15-18, 200
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedIndianapolis, Indiana, USA
EditorTrant, J., & Bearman D.
Keywordsargumentation, blogs | blogging, community, informal learning, interactivity, Science Buzz, Web 2.0

This paper presents early results from a large, multi-year study of the impact of Web 2.0 technologies on museum learning and practice. The study has two parts. One part is an examination of discursive activity on a science museum blog (Science Buzz from the Science Museum of Minnesota), and the second part is an examination of the impact that Web 2.0 technologies have on museum practice (Museum of Life Science in North Carolina). In this paper, we focus on results from the analysis of activity on Science Buzz.The study is shaped by the following questions. (1) What is the nature of the community that interacts through Science Buzz? (2) What is the nature of the on-line interaction? (3) Do these on-line interactions support inquiry and learning for this user community? (4) Do these on-line interactions support inquiry, learning, and change within the museum — ie, what is the impact on museum practice?Our results to date suggest that the activity on the Science Buzz blog is highly complex. The community that forms online is highly variable and shaped largely by topic. For instance, some topics attract a large number of participants with diverse levels of knowledge and perspective and who participate from locations both inside and outside the physical museum. Our analysis to date suggests that argumentative strategies such as making claims are most common on the Buzz blog. These forms of reasoning strategies are the focus of much of the discourse-based studies of concepts like “learning” in group environments. Yet what our analysis of the Buzz blog also shows are a range of strategies that we associate with constructing individual identities (more common) and group identities (less common). These discourse strategies are often ignored in studies of learning or knowledge construction, but they are clearly integral to any understanding of the on-line spaces made available by museums to the public.