Category: Learning & access

Smartphones (e.g., the iPhone or Android) are commonplace, and education outreach projects need make use of this reality. People use their smartphones while doing all kinds of things. For example:

(Left to right, top:  while waiting in line, socializing, in the bathroom, while watching TV; bottom: while using a computer, playing video games, reading a paper, or a book.)

The most common place to use a smartphones is at home (93% of smartphone owners), but people use their smartphones all kinds of places: (more…)

Virtual exhibits on tablet devices (e.g., the Apple iPad) put exhibits at the fingertips of students and the public. Visitors can browse science, art or culture from classrooms, during their commutes, or from their sofas. — But where does the money come from?

As with physical museums, the problem with charging money for downloads is limiting visitation to enthusiasts. Access must free to get significant use on tablet computers in classrooms, or by people who would not otherwise pay. Aside from grant support or advertisements, are there other revenue models? Could funding come from the community?

We posit that virtual exhibit apps could be free downloads, giving a preview teaser. Then, to see the rest of the exhibit, visitors pay for access, sponsor access for others, or request free access. Here’s how it might look: (more…)

There is no better way to reach underserved audiences than to drive directly to them. Mobile museums, in converted RVs or semi-trailers, are delivering history, science and art experiences. Here are two great examples.


Reaching rural audiences for $10.71 per visitor, the “Van of Enchantment” brings cultural history to schools and public events in New Mexico — at no cost to visitors. New Mexico’s rich history traces back at least 11,000 years, and includes a flourishing Pueblo community in the 13th century, Spanish conquistadors and colonists in the 16th century, and railroads in the late 19th century. (more…)

The system of getting knowledge about science to the public is broken. One major crack in the system is a disconnect between science museums and new science research.

Science museums matter

Aside from the news media, which now has less science coverage as the journalism business contracts, museums play a vital role in how the public learns about science outside of school. New data show that science museums play an important part in this informal learning.

Despite enthusiastic scientists who are using social media, leading citizen science, and supporting other kinds of outreach, the vast majority of scientific information is ensconced in journals and conferences.

To connect this knowledge to the public, it’s common practice for closed-access journals to give journalists free (advance) access to new articles. But the same courtesy is not provided to science museums that would also benefit from new articles, as well as a back library of older articles. And science museums rarely budget for journal subscriptions. (more…)

Fast talks enliven conferences. Ignite and TEDx are two models of fast-paced, engaging and fun conferences which can be adapted for both public-oriented conferences and professional conferences. It’s a refreshing break from long lectures and panel discussions… (more…)

“This is your target” the game says, pointing at an ordinary looking cartoon woman in a T-shirt and track pants. “If you pay close attention to the host’s weaknesses, you can make a disease that will get the host super duper sick!” (more…)

Museums and archives manage information about their collections, facilitate interdepartmental communication, and make collections available to the public using collection management software. Here’s a rundown of the collection management systems being exhibited at Museums and the Web 2011… (more…)

Here’s a snapshot of the current exhibitions or activities being featured at a sampling of U.S. science centers, and their ticket prices for adults.  (more…)

Open access means that readers have free access. But who pays for the operational costs of running a publication? Often it’s the authors, though there are several common business models.

How much are authors paying? What do they think about it? And what are some other business models to sustain journals and other kinds of digital content? (more…)

Open access journals are transforming how researchers share information, and how the public can access it. They are peer reviewed journals which are digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

Open access journals are now commonplace. As of last lear, nearly 10% of scholarly articles were published in open access journals. There are now currently over 7500 open access journals, according to the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which indexes freely available, peer-reviewed journals that don’t have an embargo period (see criteria).  (more…)