Overview of MW98: Why you should attend MW98 Learn new skills to enhance your museum site Explore issues and controversies facing Museums and the Web Experts featured at MW98 Commercial products and services to enhance your web site Organizations supporting MW98: Online interchange regarding the virtual museum experience Juried awards to best web sites in 5 categories Overview of MW98: Why you should attend MW98 Learn new skills to enhance your museum site Explore issues and controversies facing Museums and the Web Experts featured at MW98 Commercial products and services to enhance your web site Organizations supporting MW98: Online interchange regarding the virtual museum experience Juried awards to best web sites in 5 categories

Overview of MW98: Why you should attend MW98 Learn new skills to enhance your museum site Explore issues and controversies facing Museums and the Web Experts featured at MW98 Commercial products and services to enhance your web site Organizations supporting MW98: Online interchange regarding the virtual museum experience Juried awards to best web sites in 5 categories

Archives & Museum Informatics

info @ archimuse.com

www.archimuse.comArchives and Museum Informatics Home Page

published April 1998
updated Nov. 2010


Models for a New Visitor-Centered Museum: Using the Web to Create Community and Continuity for the Museum Visitor

Larry Friedlander, Stanford University

Research projects underway at Stanford on improving learning in higher education have implications for museum planning and for the use of the web. The Stanford Learning Lab is exploring a set of new tools and procedures to make learning more effective by granting the individual learner personalized attention even within the scope of large lecture classes, and by developing ways to record and access learning experiences over the course of a student's entire career. This work has important implications for the museum world:
  • web sites can be used to foster communication and discussion between members of the public, as well as between museum professionals and individual visitors

  • visitors can form special interest groups and organize activities and projects on their own that connect to the museum

  • web sites can be used to collect information about the public, and to respond to special needs and questions

  • museums can begin to track the visitor's relationship to the museum over time, and to help the visitor record and re-use museum experiences

  • visitors can create portfolios of museum materials, together with notes, commentary, and personal reflections

  • museums can form special relationships with members or specific groups, providing these groups with personalized information such as videos and annotated texts, announcements, and marketing offers

These uses of the web are supported by new kinds of learning spaces that integrate virtual and 'real' activities, and allow the smooth integration of individual and group instruction. Such Learning Studios can be created within the museum to maximize the use of web materials and instruction, and to create a flexible environment for museum educational activities.

I will now describe the Stanford Learning lab and its major efforts in these areas.


The Learning Lab was established in 1997 by President Casper and the Commission on Technology in Teaching and Learning. It is the centerpiece of Stanford's response to the revolutionary changes now facing education. Its aim is to achieve a substantial impact on the quality of education at Stanford and elsewhere through the use of innovative technology and pedagogy.

The Lab sponsors research in learning itself and the technologies and curricular structures that best support that learning. In particular, the Lab focuses on the judicious application of pedagogically informed learning technology, closely analyzing the interactions between pedagogy and technology in learning and avoiding any simplistic reliance on technical innovation for its own sake.. Situated outside any discipline and departmental boundaries, the SLL serves as a strategic center and advisor for the university as a whole, testing educational options in order to inform, guide, and give early warning to those in the university who must respond to the changing educational environment. The SLL focuses on how learning actually happens at Stanford.

The Learning Lab's most notable characteristic is its emphasis on the deep assessment of real learning (and associated teaching) activity together with the formal assessment of the impact of technology. So the Lab will develop stringent and comprehensive assessment protocols to accurately determine the effectiveness any new strategies and to ensure that its successful experiments can be repeated and expanded


Stanford is now engaging on a concerted effort to re-think its undergraduate education programs in order to provide students with personalized, intimate, and engaged learning. Accordingly, the first project of the Learning Lab this Fall Quarter was the redesign and testing of a new Stanford freshman course, Introduction to the Humanities: The Word and the World. This project is the first in a series of studies to be conducted by the Lab which will focus on large lecture courses. The heart of the experiment was the development of an array of Internet tools designed to support a radical restructuring of the course's pedagogy.

Freshman here at Stanford, and elsewhere for that matter, typically spend much of their time in courses that combine lectures to large audiences with small discussion groups taught by junior instructors or advanced students, a format that poses important motivational and curricular problems. The scale of the class makes coordination of discussions and lectures difficult and discourages communication and collaboration among students and faculty. The result is often an apathetic and alienated student group.

The Intro. to Hum class is one of the first versions of a new format for a required Freshman course designed to replace the current Culture Values and Civilization series. The course, with ninety students, is team-taught by three faculty from diverse disciplines and two instructors who lead the discussion sections. The curriculum stresses close attention to a few selected and exemplary texts approached from of variety of view-points: i.e. history, literature, and philosophy. Thus the course emphasizes methods of reading, rather than content. By 1999 all entering freshman will take some version of this new course.

The Lab has designed a new kind of lecture course, one that retains the basic format of lecture and discussion but that transforms the passive student body into an active community of engaged participants. This transformation is achieved through a mix of new curricular formats and innovative applications of web-based technologies. Innovations include cross-section group projects; web-based, dynamic, and on-going assessment and feedback systems; and computer-mediated discussions among faculty and students. The technology has been carefully designed to merge with and support the new forms of teaching and curricular organization.

For example, in this course all works are studied twice--the first time the focus is on discussion within discrete sections of the individual works; the second time students engage in a series of examinations of groups of the texts and form on their own cross-sectional collaborations and projects. Students are invited to structure the second half of the course, taking part in lectures and defining areas of debate and analysis.

The lab has developed a series of web-based tools and formats for the course which:

  • Presents the resources, tutorials and assignments for the course, allowing personalized study,

  • Collects, distributes, archives and displays all student work,

  • Supports intra- and inter-sectional on-line discussion,

  • Alerts and announces course events,

  • Displays collaborative notebooks for use by student groups doing projects,

  • Collects and organizes each student's work
In addition, the project employs an extensive range of modes of assessment: questionnaires, interviews, video interaction analysis, peer review, and ethnographic studies.

This web-based, cross-platform system supports close interactions and feedback among faculty and students as they carry out projects, assignments and discussions. It accommodates sharing of documents within and across working groups; delivery of alerts, schedules and announcements; asynchronous and synchronous peer-to-peer and novice-expert discussion, planning and argumentation; development of collaborative notebooks and project records; peer critique and publication of student experiments in "Course Journals," archiving of student work, and data collection with tools that record and help to analyze student activities. This system also maintains an archive of previous students' work allowing new students to draw on the experiences of earlier learners in planning experiments and projects. Finally, the system facilitates coordination and assessment of individual, small group, project, section, and large group course activities. Instructors will be able to capture, critique, and document activities and personal work on an ongoing basis, and these data will provide us with the means for a comprehensive assessment program and for ongoing, formative evaluation.

In summary, the potential tools useful to museums would be:

  • Forums: To support asynchronous on-line discussion. The system displays images of the discussant, provides multiple layers of organizational categories, indexes messages in a summary view, and makes reading easier by visually organizing the screen for comprehensibility.

  • Alerting and Announcement System: Used to post messages to members of selected groups or all the public visitors. It allows the museum to select from active (e-mail based) and/or passive (web-based) distribution.

  • Assignment Distribution and Submission Systems: Allows museum to develop on-line educational activities that can automatically collect and route public response and work. Such work can be done directly on the Web, or using other applications such as word processors, CAD, or drawing programs.

  • Work Collections: public to view and review their own and other visitor's contributions that have been collected along with comments from the museum staff. The collection can include both formal and informal postings. Collections can be used for knowledge sharing among learners, reflection upon one's previous contributions and assessment by museum staff.

  • Authentication System: Used to password the course site so that private and fair use information can be included on web pages.


E-folios are personalized knowledge bases that support the learning process by facilitating:
  • the reuse, reflection, integration (synthesis) and sharing of knowledge;

  • the development of life-long learning skills and attitudes.

E-folios are used by:
  • individual learners to capture, organize, integrate and reuse the results of formal and informal learning experiences;

  • educators to assess students and share teaching resources in order to provide students with guidance and rich learning opportunities within appropriate and innovative pedagogical frameworks;

  • learning communities to share and manage information and to facilitate distributed, collaborative and cost-effective learning.
The Stanford University Learning Laboratory Electronic Learning Portfolios (E-folios) project will research and develop such methods and technologies, and work towards integrating them into the learning experience of Stanford students, faculty, staff alumni, and partner industry professionals.

The Electronic Learning Portfolios (E-folios) is intended to help individuals capture, organize, integrate and re-use the results of learning experiences encountered throughout their careers. E-folios can contribute significantly to improvements in personalized, collaborative learning while also supporting a variety of student learning styles.

E-folios are ubiquitous, portable electronic knowledge bases that are private, personalized and sharable. They contain and represent one's own formal and informal learning experience At the same time, E-folio content can be selectively shared, thereby creating an unlimited constellation of larger communities with common understandings and experience. Such communities can range in scale from pair relationships to teams of several persons through to enterprise-wide frameworks.


Stanford University is creating a new high technology classroom/laboratory known as The Learning Space. This facility will be used as a testing place for undergraduate curricula and teaching method In its capacity as a teaching facility, The Learning Space will allow for completely flexible teaching and learning arrangements, with full connectivity for each student, new forms of projection, visualization, and collaborative creation and virtual experimentation.

In its capacity as a laboratory for innovative curricular design, it will serve as a workshop for faculty to devise and test new teaching strategies, new digital applications and experiments, and new forms of student initiated research.

The Learning Space departs from traditional classroom design by allowing the learner and instructor to configure the facility for the activity, the research goals and the special needs of individual learners. Its design flows from the Stanford Learning Lab's conviction that students' understanding and appreciation of the arts, science, and technology is greatly enhanced in environments which:

  • Allow students to 'own' or personalize individual and groups spaces.

  • Support hands-on educational experiences. These experiences include running experiments, dissecting physical artifacts, creating design solutions, collaborating over the Internet, giving formal presentations, and the direct manipulation of physical artifacts.

  • Support a variety of learning activities from lecture/discussion, to group design work and collaboration learning models, to lab experiments. It will allow for easy transition from small-group to large-group activities, even within a single class period.

  • Combine formal education with informal and spontaneous learning in a communal setting.

  • Support the presentation and collection of students' work and concepts in a gallery-like atmosphere. We see educational value in students displaying and reviewing the work of others.

The Learning Space will be an open lab/studio/seminar facility that can be configured to support and study different types of learning activities. It is conceived as a flexible space in which all components can be reconfigured to support specific tasks. It will accommodate eight to ten small working groups as well as provide a setting for formal presentations. Some features of the room include:
  • Lightweight, moveable furniture that allows the space to be easily reconfigured from a seminar table, to a to a design-planning-brainstorming area, to lab benches. In the lab bench configuration there will be access to tools, physical resource materials, a white board, and a storage locker. It is critical that the set-up time of the physical space to move students from small group work to formal presentations be minimal.

  • Systems for displaying student work and physical /virtual artifacts. This will be accomplished with many large white boards, bulletin boards, cabinets, and several bright, large-screen projection systems showing computer and video displays on several walls. The projectors will show student work, re-present past learning activities, and visually configure the room for special tasks.

  • Ubiquitous, high-speed networking: computers can be connected to the network from anywhere in the room.

  • Computers artfully inserted in the environment so they do not inhibit discussion; for example, imbedded screens in special furniture and lab equipment.
Video cameras and microphones set up to record course activities. The room will be instrumented for use by students in documenting their own work and for use by the teaching and coaching staff in reviewing and studying --- for example, group dynamics and exercise effectiveness.


Museums can begin to create long term personal relationships with visitors through the Web, and to integrate web based materials in the museum space through the creation of flexible and multi purposed learning spaces.

This file can be found below http://www.archimuse.com/mw98/
Send questions and comments to info@museumsandtheweb.com