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Developing a Museum Web Presence for Higher Education - the Evaluation of an Online Course at Richmond, The American International University in Londo

Evan Dickerson, Richmond, The American International University in London, United Kingdom
Susie Peacock, Queen Margaret University College, Scotland

Session: Evaluation

This paper discusses an online module: Museums and Galleries: The Cultures of Display for Junior level, undergraduate art history students at Richmond, the American International University in London (RAIUL). Published on the University's IntraNet, this module is part of a university-wide IT and Teaching Initiative. We specifically address the educational rationale for the project with reference to the institutional context and the impact of such developments on the University's support services.

The initial section of the paper focuses on the practical implementation of the online module with reference to a pedagogical framework. The online module enables students to have online access to module content as well as a summary of the curriculum, lists of set texts, assignment criteria and assessment deadlines. Museum-specific pages with external hyperlinks to museums are published in preparation for on-site visits. Class messages are posted as well as research resources. Faculty - student email communication is used extensively as well students emailing museum personnel. Recently the site has been developed to include a study skills section to assist students' development of critical analysis techniques when using web-based resources.

Subsequently, the paper examines the module from the perspective of the student and the faculty drawn from evaluation data gained in the three iterations of this module. This will examine student attitudes to online content delivery and analyse intended and actual student usage of the online module. From the faculty perspective we will address the practical issues of developing an online course. This will focus particularly on display and the aesthetics of on-screen presentation. In addition, we will reflect upon the issues raised by this module at the university-wide level with regarding to support implications for the development of more online courses.

The paper will conclude with proposals for the way forward in the future development of the project, particularly with respect to inter-institutional collaboration, both with museums and other Higher Education providers in the United Kingdom.