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published: April, 2002

© Archives & Museum Informatics, 2002.
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License


Northern Journeys
Susan Spencer, Denali Elementary School, USA
Roger Topp, University of Alaska Museum, USA

Demonstration: Demonstrations 1

Northern Journeys is an online curriculum resource incorporating the interpretation of museum objects into classroom activities to support Alaska and national content standards. Northern Journeys intention is to teach about Alaska through the disciplines of art, culture, history, and science. These multiple perspectives encourage users to learn more about local values and traditions as they develop a sense of place, of who they are, within the community. For subjects such as Alaskan History, for which there is no textbook available, the Museum objects and their interpretations represent important examples of historical events. Developed and written in partnership with elementary school teachers, Northern Journeys is not just supplementary, but integral to the classroom curriculum.

Northern Journeys places each Museum object first and foremost, introducing the work and then layering information about the Artist, Location and Geography, Art in Life, and closing with an Activity that has both online and physical components. Each information layer is arrived at through responding to questions, the answers to which come from the present layer text or a map page. While the objects are accessed nonlinearly, each sequence of information layers is linear. These sequences of pages are the core of each Journey, those accessed directly by students. The versatility of each Journey is embodied in the Teacher Resource Kit (TRK). The TRK includes information and ideas to enable teachers and parents to teach to a diverse array of subjects, e.g., geology or geometry. The online activities are an art focused starting point while the TRK makes Northern Journeys applicable to all manner of course objectives.

The exploration of the art objects is both governed by experts who live within the culture and open to express the idea that the sciences and the humanities can connect through art. The technological approach to Northern Journeys is 1) to approach students in a classroom as a group; 2) to reach the growing population of home school and rural students throughout Alaska, and 3) to encourage teachers to create journeys that integrate directly with their lesson plans.

A first Journey, śDogs in Alaska,” was produced as a pilot project. The second Journey, śAlaskaĂs Sea Migrations,” currently in production, is expected to be available February of 2002, and a third Journey, śAlaskaĂs Land Migrations” is planned for launch in April.

The śDogs in Alaska” unit for grades 3-5 was funded in part by a National Endowment for the Humanities Schools for a New Millennium Planning Grant. In addition to increased content development, Northern Journeys is in the second year of a four-year project to build a technology infrastructure that will improve access to Journeys and Journeys-like Internet materials in Fairbanks schools, the Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Library, and homes and schools in rural Alaska. The U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information AdministrationĂs Technology Opportunities Program funds this infrastructure component of Northern Journeys.

Museums and the Web 2002 : Demonstration