The Writing in Digital Environments Research Center is one of the Institute for Museum & Library Services 2010 National Leadership Grant award winners and will lead a three year project entitled “Facilitating Learning in Digital Museum Environments.”
The main focus of the project is to evaluate the effectiveness of “facilitation” – strategies used by museum staff and volunteers – in online exhibits. The project will seek to understand facilitation styles and their outcomes in two distinct but representative museum environments. The first, Science Buzz at Science Museum of Minnesota, is a popular Web site identified by the field to be exemplary because of its educational value and its use of Web 2.0 functionality. The second is the more distributed use of social software at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, North Carolina. The first uses learning platforms that are hosted internally, while the second is experimenting with building learning communities where people are already gathering on the Web, such as Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.
Researchers will closely follow activity at each museum, using discourse analysis as their primary analytical approach with the goal of identifying clear, replicable facilitation styles and indicators of learning associated with those styles.
Rhetoric & Writing Ph.D. Student and WIDE RA Stacey Pigg played a major role in a previous project funded by IMLS, and took a leading role in this follow-up proposal as well. Pigg, who is planning to defend her dissertation & graduate this year, is also on the academic job market. This award means that she will likely take her role on the new project with her to her new institution as she begins her career in a faculty role. Congrats Stacey!
The project will be led by Professor Jeff Grabill, WIDE Co-Director. Grabill’s work on the previous IMLS project as Co-PI and study coordinator will carry over into the new project as well. Colleagues in Museum Studies at both of the two partner sites will also play research roles on the project.