Connecting the Dots: Experiments with Teaching Tech in the Museum Studies Computer Club

Lightning Talk
Cait Reizman, Charles Zange, The George Washington University, USA

Most museum professionals would not consider themselves computer experts. The responsibility of introducing staff to new media often falls on the “Museum Technologist”– one individual with expertise teaching the ways of the Web. But increasing adoption of new technologies challenges the definition of expertise. Once everyone on staff has a cell phone or social media account, how do we identify who isn’t a museum technologist?

In cofounding a Museum Studies Computer Club at the George Washington University, we tapped into students’ varying experiences to create a space for non-professionals to explore tech topics. Neither of us are computer experts by training, and our members – sixteen strong – come from non-technical backgrounds as diverse as education, exhibition development, management, and collections. Sessions are solicited from club members, and engage learners with experimental projects in areas such as web development, digitization, social media, and blogging. More than teach digital, the club encourages curiosity in a sandbox environment where trial and error are parts of the reward.

This lightning talk will reflect on our lessons learned while creating and supporting the computer club at GWU. It will consider the point where our motivations for finding a new mode of teaching tech meet the practical day-to-day management of leading sessions. It will also present some of our speculations for the emerging generation of museum professionals and their adoption of technology outside the tech department.

Royston, Carolyn, "What’s the first rule of Computer Club – talk about Computer Club!", Museums and the Web 2014.