The Smithsonian Commons (through the eyes of a Primary teacher)

Last week, I had the opportunity to see a talk by Michael Edson, the Director of Web and New Media Strategy at The Smithsonian. You can see a version of the presentation on slideshare. He spoke eloquently and passionately about the challenges of taking an established and successful 'old school' knowledge institution and make it relevant and useful in the digitally connected world. One of the major initiatives they are working on is The Smithsonian Commons, an externalisation of the resources and information that traditionally reside within the institution – providing users (not just visitors) with the ability to use (and increasingly 'remix') material. So far, they have developed a prototype with a number of videos showing how inidividuals might interact with the commons. From an educational perspective it is interesting to watch the experience of a primary school teacher to see how knowledge institutions like The Smithsonian (and The Powerhouse Museum more locally) are starting to re-imagine their role in society.

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