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  • 1.  Online Classes

    Posted 03-17-2016 04:39 PM

    Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum teaches a wide range of folk art classes at its home base in Decorah, Iowa. We are now looking at the possibility of offering classes on-line, but have no in-house knowledge about what it takes to accomplish this. I would very much appreciate hearing from someone who has expertise or experience in this area.

    Heyn Kjerulf
    Richmond VA

  • 2.  RE: Online Classes

    Posted 03-18-2016 06:58 AM

    There's an online teaching platform called Blackboard that's used by many venues involved with online teaching but it might be too costly or complex for a small museum to dive in to.

    Have you thought about filming some of the classes and posting the videos online using Youtube or Vimeo?  From what I know, Vimeo has the option to password protect the videos, which would allow you to send the password only to those who have paid the "tuition".

    Good luck!

    Metropolitan WaterWorks Museum, Inc.
    Chestnut Hill MA

  • 3.  RE: Online Classes

    Posted 03-18-2016 07:32 AM

    Hello Heyn,

    Selecting the method or platform for online learning depends on what you're teaching, among other things. Things to consider include whether you're teaching people to make art? Or to learn about it?

    Would you like the courses to be interactive, where participants can contribute their ideas, thoughts, questions? Or simply be able to download printed materials and/or videos about the subject? 

    Do you want the instructor and the participants to be able to communicate in real time and be able to see each other, using a service like Webex, Zoom, or Google hangouts?

    Have you thought about how you would promote the courses? 

    Would you offer them for free?

    We designed and built an online education platform for the International Center of Photography two years ago and had to consider all these issues during the process. Fortunately it's turned out to be quite successful! I hope this is helpful.



    Robin White Owen
    Mediacombo, Inc
    Brooklyn NY

  • 4.  RE: Online Classes

    Posted 03-21-2016 11:15 AM

    This discussion thread has generated many great ideas, suggestions, and what to consider when doing on-line classes.

    I teach a blended on-line class for school administrators and I am always learning a better way of doing it. One big decision that we had to make was what LMS (Learning Management System) to use that provided the platform for access to the content, gave the assignments, provided online discussion forum, a gradebook, and communication. We looked at Moodle, Blackboard, Edmodo, Haiku and Schoology. For our purposes we are using Schoology (it is more educational based) and we are using the free version. I have used Moodle, Edmodo, Haiku and Schoology for other online learning. Each has their own strengths and limitations. The support I've received from Schoology is amazing.

    The next decision is content - videos, curriculum, reading material, etc. We ended up building a google site that hosts videos, articles, etc. (Again this is also free).

    I would urge you to talk to everyone you can to find out what works and what doesn't work. There is no perfect system. 

    Melissa Strongman
    Director of Education
    The Lindsay Wildlife Museum
    Walnut Creek CA

  • 5.  RE: Online Classes

    Posted 03-18-2016 11:31 AM

    If you're looking at courses that are more than one-time events, take a look at Moodle, an open source learning and "course management" platform. Many smaller higher ed institutions and non-profits worldwide have been using for the past 15 years. It is free with no licensing fees. A learning platform allows course participants to hold discussions and view content, etc. all in one software tool. They are built for two-way communication among instructor and students. As others mentioned, you could alternatively offer courses through a web conferencing tool for participation at a specific time (synchronous). If the web conferencing tool allows archiving of the web conferences, you can also offer them asynchronously. Web conference recordings tend to be difficult/time consuming to edit. If you just want a recorded presentation and discussion about it that is asynchronous and low cost, you could use video recording software or add audio to a presentation (e.g.Powerpoint) and then set up a Google Group for discussions. How much you want to control access is a factor to consider in selecting a platform and tools/apps.

    Lisa Larson EdD
    Digital Learning Specialist
    Minnesota Historical Society
    Saint Paul MN

  • 6.  RE: Online Classes

    Posted 03-18-2016 11:42 AM

    I have taught online courses for several years. I currently teach online courses in the museum studies graduate program for Kent State University and also teach for Museum Study. Museum Study hosts courses for AASLH. I suggest that you talk to Brad at Museum Study about the possibility of hosting courses for your museum--its a lot easier to work with an experienced company than to try to re-invent the wheel on your own. You can contact Brad at

    John Simmons
    Curator of Collections
    Bellefonte PA

  • 7.  RE: Online Classes

    Posted 03-19-2016 09:58 AM

    As everyone says, it's important to determine what you want the platform to do.  You could even build a course on a wiki -- like Wikispaces -- many of which are free but offer enhanced services for a fee. 

    For an example, look at Becoming America, a Teaching American History project on immigration that combined digital education with school and museum learning.  Go to the "Seminars" link is the left-hand navigation bar and then look at individual pages to see how in-person (face-to-face) and online learning (asynchronous) combined:  becomingamerica - home

    (I was one of the leaders on this project and loved every minute of it.)

    Another example are the summer PD seminars offered by the Museum Institute for Teaching Science ( for which the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum co-led sessions (I was the MWM Education Manager).  MITS used Canvas as their platform. 

    "Blended" learning, in my experience, is the most effective.  Once you get to know your participants through the introductory class, you will find it easier to help them form community and guide the discussion. 

    Hope this helps -- thanks!

    Cathleen Randall
    Chicago, IL

  • 8.  RE: Online Classes

    Posted 03-21-2016 07:35 AM

    Hi, I developed and taught a distant-learning class on The Art of Visual Storytelling, using Blackboard. Students participated from Washington D.C. to Bangladesh and Japan. I would post class lectures, reading materials and a thought-provoking question on Monday. The students used the "Discussion Board" to post their thoughts and to interact. Generally, I found the level of discussion to be deeper than in an on-site classroom. Some discussions continued throughout the semester. On Thursdays, I posted additional material and the homework assignment for that week. Students would post links to their work by Sunday evening (these were building block assignments, they had longer to work on the final project). Blackboard is not robust enough to handle large visual files, so the students used YouTube or Vimeo and posted the links.

    Maggie Burnette Stogner
    Annapolis MD

  • 9.  RE: Online Classes

    Posted 03-22-2016 11:53 AM

    As a student, I took a class through my university hosted on Blackboard and I found it was a good platform for the student. There are plenty of features to take advantage of and I believe it could be a useful tool for you. I think you can also host private videos on YouTube so only people who have the appropriate link can access them (aka only your students.)

    Sarah Lillis
    Intern, Learning and Engagement
    Denver Art Museum
    Denver CO