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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:  October 28, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License



Advancing Tools for Tolerance: Harnessing the web to support
Sarah Bordac, Museum of Tolerance, USA

Demonstration: Demonstrations - Session 2

The Museum of Tolerance promotes human rights and social justice through education, outreach, and social action. The online Teacher's Guide project enabled the Museum to advance its goal of becoming a museum without walls. The goal of the project was to advance the educational mission of the Museum of Tolerance and support the success of California teachers by providing them with practical standards-aligned lessons and materials for effective tolerance and anti-bias education. The demonstration of the Museum of Tolerance Teachers' Guide web site and related online projects provides an opportunity to explore the evolution of a small teacher preparation kit to an interactive virtual community that spans educators from California to 14 countries worldwide.

Since the project's inception in the fall of 2001, many advancements and discoveries have been made. Through ongoing focus groups and surveys, the Museum receives feedback on the quality of the materials presented both inside the Museum and in our training programs. In response, we have added lesson plans and vocabulary for younger students, as well as continued enhancements to the searchable bibliography. Additionally, steps have been taken to integrate other Museum programs and technology efforts with the site, including videoconferencing, access to the Museum's digitized archive materials, and expanded training programs.

We have adapted many of the Museum's face-to-face training programs to an online environment in an effort to extend our professional development programs geographically. By reaching out beyond our physical locations in Southern California and New York City via eLearning technology, the Museum expands its base to audiences that previously did not have access. In addition to course offerings, the technology also enables us to offer video streams of our Arts & Lectures series and present archived video presentations by special guests.

Partnerships with complementary organizations have allowed us to provide school communities with specialized materials and tools, giving educators access to varied content from multiple sources in one convenient location. Other content development strategies have included offering workshops where educators create lesson plans for the web site and leveraging work on other MOT projects to produce content for the Teachers' Guide site.

The launch of eLearning programs for the Museum responds to another need sustainability. In response to this age of tighter budgets and increased competition for funding, online programs open a revenue stream that was not an option without this technology. In addition to providing a new venue for MOT programs, web and eLearning technology opens new opportunities to reduce operational costs. As we look to the future, the Museum sees exciting opportunities to support and further the use of public and educational web-based programs. The response to our presentation at last year's conference demonstrated that museums large and small are looking to find greater efficiency in their existing resources and programs. The MOT Teachers' Guide project and our other developing web projects are an example of how to produce value-rich programs with limited resources and maximum impact.