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How can the gallery or museum visit be personalised and augmented to make first impressions last?

Fig.1. Miro – Barcelona

A lifelong love in art galleries yet I still feel unmoved (most of the time) by galleries and museums, possibly because I expect the gentle, guiding voice of my late mother at my shoulder (artist, art historian, Mum).

What could be a more personalised visit than to have someone who knows you so well point things out, guide you to things that will interest or irritate, then offer an insight – invariably linked to ‘what do you do next?’ i.e. look, learn then apply.

I take heart from the exceptions, only two visits I can think of though:

‘In Flanders Fields’ – you need a day to yourself to take this in. The most shocking moment entering a funnel like fixture, looking around then twisting your head up to see sets of photographs of mutilated combatants. It put your physically in a demanding postion to view them. Then the multi-media displays, not just actors giving accounts, but the ultimate before and after shots of places using satelitte images and old aerial photos.

‘Alcatraz’ – on many levels the visit irritated me, partly the Disneyfication and advance booking, then the many layers of the islands as bird sanctuary, prison and Native American conquest. What impressed though was the brilliant audio guide – BBC at its very best might be the way to describe it. Very carefully and sensitively juxtapositioning of interviews with former inmates, guards, and family members of guards/governor which between them created a sense or atmosphere of the place like some kind of hideous monastic retreat.

So how do we ‘recreate’ battlefields” We have the 750th of the Battle of Lewes here in East Sussex next year, as well as us all having five or more years of the run up to, the war and aftermath of 1914-1918.

The opportunity exists to use smart devices to give visitors and pilgrims an enhanced, personalised and lasting memory of these places – but how?

E-learning needs to be ‘my learning’ – m-learning by another name.

‘Time to see the individual needs in a personal way’

This is relevant to all learners, so perhaps provision for disabled students can put them in the vanguard – this is in theory where e-learning is taking us, reading Littlejohn and Pegler (2007) ‘Preparing for blended e-learning’

The authors predict that the shift is towards putting the needs of the learner first – I feel however we are a long easy from that – not least the inertia of the physical infrastructure, but the traditions, habits and ways of our educators too.

Instead of seeing e-learning as a way to get one standardised module in front of 10,000 people it needs to be seen as a way of delivering 10,000 modules to 10,000 people with the vastness and complexity of their differing needs, interests, experiences, motivations, capacities, skills and so on.

 

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