New opportunities for FE students at the British Museum

Juno Rae, Education Manager: Samsung Digital Learning Programme at the British Museum, tells how the Arts Award was integrated into new programming for further education students.

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The Samsung Digital Discovery Centre at the British Museum provides schools and families with digital learning opportunities through a variety of activities, sessions and workshops. For schools, until 2016 this offer had mainly been for primary students with the collection fitting more keenly with the KS1 and 2 National Curriculum. At the beginning of 2016 I wanted to explore how secondary and further education could be meaningfully incorporated into the Centre’s education programme, so with the support of A New Direction, I initiated a pilot project with the Samsung Academy at Newham College, with the intention that six students studying Level 3 City and Guilds Certificate/Diploma in Digital Technologies would undertake a work placement at the British Museum for 10 days in the spring term of 2016.

The objectives of the project were for the students to:

  • Learn about project skills necessary for digital content creation within a museum environment
  • Create a digital prototype app for a 16-24 year old audience
  • Undertake a Bronze Award Arts qualification, creating a portfolio of their activities throughout the placement
  • Be active Museum visitors with an interest and awareness of the Museum offer
  • Be aware of potential digital career opportunities related to their skills and experiences

Prior to the start of the placements I undertook Bronze and Silver Arts Award training to become qualified as an Adviser, ready to support and assess the portfolio work of the students. The toolkit and framework provided on the training day was brilliant and really helped to support the schedule development of the student placement.

In January 2016, at the beginning of their placement, the students were set the challenge of completing a live brief: to create a prototype app for their peers to use in the Museum. For many of the students the British Museum was not a place they had been frequent visitors of prior to the project, so the placement provided a unique opportunity to open their eyes to the variety of activities and exhibitions available to them.

Over the course of the project students received guidance from digital Museum professionals in the Samsung Digital Discovery Centre, in part to make them aware of potential jobs of interest available to them within the institution and also to learn about and undertake a digital development process with tasks including audience data collection, sketching and wire framing activities and evaluation. This required a lot of desk and gallery research, visitor interaction and active group planning, which also evidenced Part A of the Bronze Arts Award – explore the arts as a participant.

The students visited a variety of Museum galleries, particularly during the early stages of the project, to get to know our offer, documenting their explorations and thoughts on mobile phones as a record of their experiences, which also evidenced Part B of the Bronze Arts Award - explore the arts as audience member. Ultimately, the students decided to work together to design and develop a prototype interactive app with a focus on the John Addis Islamic world gallery (Room 34). During the course of the project the students also reflected on a variety of creative digital entrepreneurs and created posters detailing their research and interest in the individuals for Part C of the Arts Award – arts inspiration.

The project culminated in March 2016 with a showcase event in the Samsung Digital Discovery Centre planned and delivered by the students. They presented their prototypes on tablets, discussed the digital development processes they had learnt about and exhibited the portfolios they had created over the course of their placement to staff from Newham College and the British Museum. This demonstrated evidence for Part D of the Bronze Award – arts skills share - and was a really positive end to the project, with students and attendees all impressed by how much had been discovered and achieved during the project.

In June this year the student portfolios were moderated and all submitted work was passed – a fantastic achievement by the group! The intended objectives of the pilot, to change student perception of the Museum and bring new awareness to potential career opportunities really came through in what was said by the students of the project.

In a student’s own words:

“I was surprised but the Museum makes use of all the latest technologies out on the market and they have a team for developing websites, designing, testing and the role you do for work experience, you really know that a person has a role like this in a museum…. there are a wide range of job opportunities”.

Due to the success of the initial pilot scheme we will be integrating a secondary and further education offer into our core Samsung Digital Learning Programme from 2016-2017, and look forward to welcoming more students to develop their digital skills with us in the future.


About the Samsung Digital Discovery Centre

The Samsung Digital Discovery Centre was created in 2009 to provide a state-of-the-art technological hub for children and young people to learn about and interact with the Museum’s collection. Offering the most ambitious and extensive on-site digital learning programme of any UK museum, the SDDC runs thirteen different school programmes throughout the school year, and has family programmes operating fifty two weekends a year. All activities are free and over 60,000 children and families have been welcomed to the Centre since it opened.