Virtual Art Museums As An Educational Resource For Teaching And Learning Artistic Heritage

Carmen Tejera, Spain

This paper outlines the results of the research carried out in my doctoral thesis, which deals with virtual art museums from an educational approach. The study focuses on the educational web sites and their interactive learning activities, considered as a didactic resource for teaching and learning artistic heritage.

The theoretical framework stems from an educational conception based on inquiry. It sets up three didactic models according to the methodology used: traditional, activist and investigative. These models have been designed for the context of formal learning, so the aim of this work is to apply this classification in the scope of virtual museums.

A previous step in the investigation consists of stating the terms in order to delimit the object of study. Virtual museums have been classified in three categories according to their educational projection: informative, expositive and interactive. Informative museums show in their Educational Section (ES) the Presential Learning Activities (PLA) they offer in the physical museum. Expositive ones have an educational section with Downloadable Learning Materials (DLM) and a Multimedia Section (MS) with Expositive Multimedia Materials (EMM). Interactive museums hold an Educational Web Site (EWS) with Interactive Learning Activities (ILA), and they are the only ones that take advantage of the didactic possibilities of the internet, mixing online, multimedia and interactivity.

500 virtual museums showing their pages in Spanish or English have been visited and there have been found 84 interactive virtual art museums, whose educational web sites offer 388 interactive learning activities. Those museums have been classified into the three didactic models and it has been proposed a taxonomy of activities and tasks belonging to each model:

  • Museums which show a traditional didactic model are characterized by a transmissive methodology and contents derived from Art history. Some of the activities are based upon academic contents such as tests, quizzes, crosswords, matching artists with their works, recognizing styles and decoding symbols and sounds.
  • Museums with an activist didactic model bring a recurring and procedural learning based on Art history, by the means of descriptions and intentional explanations. Their activities emphasize retention of the image by puzzles or memory games, playing with artistic techniques, drawing or designing, literary and musical creativity, analyzing artistic elements such as colour, shape, size or material, and virtual visits in the form of videogame, guide visit or solving a mystery.
  • Museums ascribed to an investigative model present problematization of the contents in order to achieve meaningful learning, so education prevails on technology. They offer activities to all educational levels and hold a section for teachers. Among these tasks, there are treatment information, problem solving, result communication and research.

 The study have shown a predominance of activist museums followed by traditional ones and a significant number of investigative museums, which led to the conclusion that the range of virtual art museums are adopting didactic principles in the development of their activities since an innovative standpoint, which shows a higher concern about the learning role of museums.

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