Opening Up Museum Studies with Social Media


How can museum studies professors—and educators of all stripes—incorporate social media into their teaching? How does social media help us enhance learning and open up access to expertise? I was invited to give a brief presentation on this topic for COMPT (Committee on Museum Professional Training) at the AAM (American Alliance of Museums) 2013 annual meeting. My talk covered the social dimension of learning, how social media has changed museums and its audiences, and examples of social media tools being incorporated into the curriculum.


  • Learning is social – Knowledge is socially constructed – Social media supports the learner
  • 3 Cs of Social Learning: Consume, Communicate, Collaborate
  • My favorite example of museum studies, social media, and social learning:, which blends wikis, podcasting, and blogging to provide students direct experience talking to experts around the globe and the ability to share their work with the world through open access.

9 thoughts on “Opening Up Museum Studies with Social Media

  1. Thanks for sharing, Dana! Nicely done, succinct summary of all the reasons why museum studies students (and faculty) might want to think more seriously about using, learning & teaching more about social media. I’ve met some resistance to using social media in past courses – some students seem to feel they’ve paid for in-person lectures from the ‘prof’ and don’t want anything else, including participatory interaction with peers and others be they face to face or online. (Anyone else find that – or is it just me? 🙁 ) But I now feel encouraged to venture ‘once more into the breach’ with social media in an upcoming Winter 2014 course.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that you’re inspired to give it another shot. I have to admit that I have found the students in my online courses don’t have as much of a hang-up about using social media for class as my in-person students did. However, in teaching online I have tried even harder to make sure our interactions are intentional, focused, and deep to counteract that fact that we can’t see (or usually hear) each other. I love VoiceThread for this reason because I can get a sense of the way people speak and converse without having to require synchronous participation.

  2. Really appreciate your sharing this and prompting my thinking, Dana! One compelling reason for considering the use of social media with classes, I think, is that museum (and other) audiences are using it. I take Chris’ comment to heart about students paying for personal attention – especially in a program like ours (Museum Education Program at GW) where it is deliberately small and student-centered. But I do want to think, with care, about what we are modeling, and can model going forward. Thank you for the prompt!

    1. I have definitely been surprised by graduate students who were reticent to share their thoughts in such a public way–online or via social media. I try to overcome this by creating structured interactions with other experts in the field who give them personal attention by responding to their questions and ideas. More bang for their buck than just access to me, in my opinion! See the example of the blog, where I’ve connected the student personally (AND digitally) with a well-known expert in the field. But everyone gets to benefit from that one-on-one interaction by preserving it and sharing it digitally with the world.

  3. Dana,

    A pleasure to meet you at the COMPT session – thanks for joining us to encourage sometimes retrograde professors to take advantage of new tools for teaching.

    Your talk inspired me to think about how I use twitter in teaching. In part, it’s a way of extending the classroom conversation beyond the classroom – to keep discussion going. That sometimes works, sometimes not. But more often successful, I think, is twitter as a tool for teaching beyond the classroom, both to my students and to anyone else who wants to sign on by following me. If there’s an interesting article or website or exhibit that I think my students (both those in my class and those following along on twitter) should know about, I use twitter as the tool to let them know, and, sometimes, what I think about it. .

    That, and very occasional pictures of the beach.


    1. Steve, It was great to see you again during AAM. I’ve followed your post-NMAH adventures with interest, particularly when you’ve instigated academic and museum professional networks to collide in conversation (most visibly on social media). Thank you for sharing your thoughts about how you use Twitter as a tool for teaching–in the classroom, extending the classroom, and beyond!

  4. Dana,

    Thanks very much for your presentation. You demonstrated very clearly that I need to take at least part of my summer and learn a great deal more about twitter and other social media platforms. I look forward to experimenting in my seminars with some of the ideas you introduced.


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