Status Update: Educator or Edupunk? Shifting Roles for Museum Educators Embracing Disruptive Technologies

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Traditional ‘programming’ and informal ‘community outlets’ have indeed broadened, deepened and diversified audiences in museums. The field must now consider new strategies for engaging audiences with increased expectations as informal learners, both online and offline. The next few posts here are my attempt to grope for new words to articulate how some of the most forward-thinking museum educators I know are pushing boundaries into new, and often uncomfortable, spaces in their institutions.

As traditional museum educators mine the spectrum between formalized and informalized education, a new breed of museum educators are inspired by open-source/DIY/crowd-sourced initiatives, and motivated by “edupunk” methodologies that upturn traditional museum education practices beyond K-12 school visits through disruptive technologies. These include, but are not limited to: on-site laboratory spaces, online courses, expansive social media programming, and community-based practices to reach audiences that rarely otherwise visit museums.

Educator or Edupunk? Shifting Roles for Museum Educators Embracing Disruptive Technologies

Image courtesy Steve Gemmel, Digital Media Specialist at J. Paul Getty Museum (thanks, Steve)
Fitting that the exhibition, “Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses” was on view at the Experience Music Project during the opening reception of Museum Computer Network (MCN)’s conference, “Shifting Perspectives, Evolving Spaces, Disruptive Technologies.” I used this image to introduce the panel the following day. Hollah to Steve Gemmel, Digital Media Specialist at J. Paul Getty Museum, for snapping this for me.

Groping For Words

 

 

Museums have long-alligned themselves with libraries, especially with respect to funding opportunities available locally, nationally and globally. This article by Andras Szanto warrants a separate blogpost on Groping for Words, stating that

“the urgent search is on for a more compelling vocabulary. The challenge is to make a case for the arts without flipping back to utilitarian rhetoric or language that may sound, to some, hopelessly romantic or elitist. It’s not as easy as it sounds.”

Disruptive Technology In Education

Today I am preparing for a series of talks I will moderate on disruptive technology in education, and without question my reading list is growing daily. Out there on the web, there are already entire bibliographies that have been inspired by Clayton Christensen’s theory of Disruptive Technology (2005). Quite a few became interested in how his theory of disruptive technology explained events that continually are shaping libraries – academic and otherwise – and higher education in general.

Museums have long-alligned themselves with libraries, especially with respect to funding opportunities available locally, nationally and globally. This article by Andras Szanto warrants a separate blogpost on Groping for Words, stating that “the urgent search is on for a more compelling vocabulary. The challenge is to make a case for the arts without flipping back to utilitarian rhetoric or language that may sound, to some, hopelessly romantic or elitist. It’s not as easy as it sounds.”

If you find anything else along these lines, please let me know — many of us would like to keep growing this bibliography. An entirely comprehensive list can be found in a Zotero library on Christensen in Higher Education, plus Christian’s tag on technorati that leads to more writing by Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter and Square.

Museums and cultural organizations have lost their way in how to speak about the work that they do, and many of the words to describe passion, or love, or inspiration to shape the argument of the arts falls flat in the face of funders and anyone else. I know that disruptive technologies in museum education, and of course in higher education, figures high here – the question is how.

Someone else I plan to spend some time following is Dick Costolo, interviewed earlier this week by Charlie Rose on September 18, 2012.

It should be noted here that according to a 2008 interview with Dorsey, he has regularly cited that three guiding principles, which are shared by the whole company and throughout its culture at Twitter: simplicity, constraint and craftsmanship.[1]

Simplicity, constraint and craftsmanship – certainly these three guiding principles could be applied to art-making and teaching, as well as innovative ways to assert disruptive technologies in education.

JACK DORSEY’S MICRO COMMUNICATION

Jack Dorsey is an American software architect that had an interest in making “instant messenger” updates available for friends to see. This was a refined concept that eventually grew into what we now know as Twitter. Three guiding principles of this innovative idea are simplicity, constraint and craftsmanship.

Jack had an early fascination with cities and how they work, so he would always carry maps around with him. His attraction with mass-transit and how cities function led him to taking advantage of public transit databases in Manhattan. He built off of his original idea that gave meaning to his overall concept. His idea make clear though working on dispatch software, programming real-time messaging systems for couriers, taxis, and emergency vehicles.

Jack Dorsey’s experience helped him see his idea in a completely new perspective. Taking his seedling of an idea that would update friends of his status, Dorsey completed several field tests before recognizing that the technology available didn’t support his innovative idea. There are times when putting off a project is irrefutable. Jack Dorsey originally came up with his idea in the year 2000 but wasn’t able to execute effectively until 8 years later. Jack was effective in not letting his idea sit for too long but instead taking action when technology would let it thrive.[2]

Sources:

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/10/22/how-to-make-innovative-ideas-happen/

I finally did order Bourdieu’s Distinction, which I will be posting about in a week or so.