Education meets technology in digital revolution

The world is changing, and technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in everyday lives. What can traditional educational institutions do to keep up and stay relevant?

Herminia Din, UAA’s assistant professor of art education, looks to show the way in her new book, “The Digital Museum: A Think Guide.” Din stresses new technologies that can exist in the traditional museum, allowing it to become a laboratory for digital discourse in education.

“We collaborated on this project for a year, then invited 25 authors to come in (for the book),” Din said.

She presented her work to a small but uniquely invested audience on Friday, March 7, in the campus bookstore.
One audience member was BP private consultant Larry Motschenbacher. “I’m looking for ideas for training videos,” Motschenbacher said.

Another was an architect interested in the lighting and design functions of exhibits in a museum.

Din’s research focuses on providing an interactive environment for a museum-going audience and its educational effects. Such an environment can include floor-to-ceiling touchscreen panels, gallery audio guides, sign-language guides, and hand-held media devices that sense the user’s location and provide videos to accompany static displays.

“It’s about the design and how you provide content for connection to your visitors,” Din said.

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This kind of interactivity in an educational environment serves primary and secondary educational institutions, which are beginning to reach out into technology for a change in their teaching methods.

Erika Veth, a second-year graduate student in English literature at UAA, is studying the digitizing of educational literacy in her coursework and incorporating some new techniques into her instructional methods.

“(Blackboard has) a blogging tool and a wiki tool,” Veth said. “I use the discussion board feature to keep an ongoing discussion outside the classroom in an asynchronous way.”

Din uses a site called Epsilen.com with her students. Using the site, students can collaborate on their projects, working in an environment that enables chatting, file exchange and group review with quickness and ease.

“We collaborated with writing students from the University of Toledo,” Din said. Together “they had to produce a kiosk PowerPoint presentation.”

Students are using the site in the professional realm as well.
“They are using it as a Web site for career advancement, as a resume and portfolio,” Din said.

Still, Veth pointed out, one difficulty with integrating technology into the classroom is instructors’ attempts at trying to teach in the same manner, using technology’s new tools but the same methods.

“I like the concept of using the Internet in a way to introduce new kinds of literacies, rather than finding new ways of doing old things,” she said. “For example, going online and doing flashcards. Even though they’re online, they’re still flashcards.”
Din’s collaborative research and work in the field of digital museum discourse may help bridge that gap between old and new ways of bringing education to the public.