World wide museums: An analysis of museum education websites
Sarah Milman Assenmacher, University of Houston, United States
University of Houston . Awarded
When more people are turning to the Internet for information and resources, it becomes necessary for organizations to cater to that need. Many museums have realized the need to not only create a website to provide information for the general public, but for students and educators as well. However, with no clear set of guidelines for either the Internet or, more specifically, for museum education websites, it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of these websites.
In developing a rubric for gauging the success of museum websites, the researcher looked at not only the needs of students and teachers, but the factors going into website design, educational websites, and virtual education. The rubric is broken up into five sections—technical design, aesthetic design, general education, educational content for educators and educational content for students. For the study, the researcher chose four local museums of varying types—an art museum, a science museum, a Holocaust museum, and a zoo—and distributed the rubric to teachers in the four content areas, asking them to go to each website and evaluate it using the rubric.
In compiling the results of these rubrics, the researcher learned that although the websites of these four museums are technically and aesthetically well-designed, the educational content is less effective. The teachers were particularly critical of the student section of the museum websites, citing a lack of activities designed specifically for student learning.
The results of this study suggest that many museums, in creating education websites, are relying more on technical and aesthetic usability than educational usability. In designing museum education websites, this rubric is a starting point for developing one that delivers material that meets the needs of both educators and students.
Assenmacher, S.M. World wide museums: An analysis of museum education websites. Master's thesis, University of Houston.
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