Reach, relevance, relationships and recontextualisation: the 4 Rs of inclusive online museum learning

Jen Ross*, Sian Bayne, Zoe Williamson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The National Museums Online Learning Project (NMOLP) is a 3-year, £1.75m project developed by 9 English national museums and galleries (British Museum, Imperial War Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum, Royal Armouries, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Tate, Victoria and Albert Museum, Wallace Collection) and funded by the Invest to Save Initiative from the UK Treasury. Now in its final year, the project’s overall objective is to increase the use of its existing digital collections in schools, and with lifelong learners. As the project plan states: “we are not proposing to add more content about objects … we aim to address the greatest barrier people face with this vast online resource – how to use it simply, creatively, and effectively”. Drawing on our research with the NMOLP, this paper will position museums and online learning, and this project in particular, with respect to the four Rs that we propose are at the heart of addressing barriers to the use of online museum learning resources: reach – focussing on digital literacies as a way of reaching a wide range of learners; relevance – the digital museum must consider what can be done better online, and which learning opportunities will engage learners in digital environments; relationship – how the shift from object to user, and the changing meanings of ‘visitor’ online, changes the relationship between the museum and learner; re-contextualisation – allowing and supporting learners to make personal connections to and between objects, and providing a structure from which personal narratives can emerge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of the Inclusive Museum
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2008

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • online learning
  • learner identities
  • digital literacies
  • museum contexts
  • lifelong learners
  • schools
  • national museums


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