Learning with Digital Technologies in Museums, Science Centres and Galleries

Roy Hawkey

01 January 2004

As institutions for the general public, museums pre-date schools yet the popular assumption is that schools are for learning (and for preparation for the future) while museums are for the preservation of the past. The reality may well be, however, that it is museums that have embraced new technologies and approaches to learning while schools focus on delivering an outmoded curriculum.

Museums are a heterogeneous set of institutions whose original twin functions of scholarship and education, once inseparable, but subsequently divorced, are being reunited by digital technologies. Such technologies also encompass a wide variety, including multimedia, simulations and presentations as well as the internet. Not only do they facilitate and/or accelerate long-established learning tasks, but, critically, they permit activities that would otherwise be impossible. This includes new approaches to learning by different audiences and for different purposes.