Milwaukee Digital Media Conference

Teachers working hard in the West Galleria.
Teachers working hard in the West Galleria.

Last week, the Schroeder (west) Galleria of the Museum was filled with the sounds of clacking keyboards and clicking computer mice, with the blinking LED lights of personal Wifi devices, a live Twitter feed projected on the wall, and groups of excited, collaborating teachers talking at fullspeed. What brought these 128 educators from all over Wisconsin to the Museum for four packed days at the end of July? The Milwaukee Digital Media Conference.

The Milwaukee Digital Media Conference is a professional development opportunity for K-12 teachers, who engage with new technology through a real-life project in order to incorporate 21st century skills in their classrooms.  The talented, passionate group of educators who coordinate the conference and I decided that participants would create resources for the Museum’s Junior Docent Program, a multi-year program for 3rd through 5th graders who research and present on a work of art in the Museum collection. Each group of teachers would have a single work of art to research, much like the Junior Docents, and would also interview Museum staff members to give students a behind-the-scenes look into how a museum functions.

Teachers (a sea of MDMC t-shirts!) get ready for a session in Lubar Auditorium.

The teachers used TimeRime and Dipity to create interactive online timelines, Diigo to consolidate their research, Google Maps to show their art or artists’ journey, and YouTube to host the video interviews of staff, which they edited with Windows MovieMaker or Apple iMovie. All of these resources were consolidated on Wikispaces pages. In between working on the project, we spoke live via Skype with the founders of Diigo, Dipity, and educators using technology innovatively. Even a team from Apple paid us a visit! (They made my Teacher Notes into iBooks–unbelievably cool.)

And what were the results? For the teachers, a week of learning, connecting, collaborating, adjusting, and adapting; for the Museum, a fantastic resource for Junior Docent students and for any visitor interested in learning more about our Collection or staff.  The teachers’ energy invigorated the galleria for four days, and I found myself wishing they could stick around for the rest of summer.

Conference perk: Tailgating at the Brewer's game on Tuesday night!

You can check out the many projects for yourself at the MDMC Projects Wiki or on the Museum’s YouTube channel of staff interviews. For a great, detailed take on the conference by a teacher participant, visit her blog. And if you’re a teacher, join us next summer—the Museum is hosting the conference once again!

I’ll leave you with this video of Dan Keegan, who talked about 21st century skills and museums during the conference’s first keynote, and left teachers humming with inspiration for the rest of the week. Here he talks about the Museum’s future:

Thanks to the Milwaukee Digital Media Conference for use of photos in this post.

Chelsea Kelly, the School and Teacher Programs Manager, oversees school tours, special K-12 programming, and events for teachers at the Museum, and also creates resources for educators about the artworks in the Museum’s Collection.

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