Skip to main content

Distance Learning Summit to be Held at Crystal Bridges; Leading Experts Help to Vision the Future

From July 10 through 12, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will host dozens of professional educators from art museums and arts organizations around the country for a ground-breaking summit that will impact the future of museum educational outreach. The Distance Learning Summit will bring together the best minds in art museum education to share their successes and failures in creating and implementing distance learning programs, to brainstorm, and to hammer out a roadmap that museums everywhere can follow to implement high-quality, effective distance learning programs for communities and schools. The summit is sponsored by the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

Art museums traditionally have on-site, curriculum-based school visit programs that have been proven effective in broadening the horizons of local students who are able to visit. During its inaugural year, Crystal Bridges worked with the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas to conduct a study measuring the impact of a one-time museum experience on K-12 students. The study found that students who took part in a museum fieldtrip demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher levels of tolerance, had more historical empathy, and developed a taste for being cultural consumers in the future, with the greatest gains seen among students considered disadvantaged or from rural communities. With this important data in hand, the museum felt compelled to find effective ways of expanding this beneficial program through distance learning.

Leaders in the field who convene at the July summit will review case studies to understand the current landscape of distance learning and art museums. Using this data, participants will work together to envision and propose possible models for effective distance learning that can be piloted at Crystal Bridges in the coming year. The envisioning sessions will be facilitated by Rachel S. Smith, Senior Consultant and the Director of Digital Facilitation Services for The Grove Consultants International.

“This summit will be informative not only to the development of Crystal Bridges’ distance learning initiative, but to the field of art museum education as a whole,” said Anne Kraybill, Crystal Bridges Distance Learning Manager. “Though many models of distance learning at art museums have been in place over the last decade, little research has been done about its effectiveness and the impact it has upon K-12 schools. By conducting a literature review, interviews, case-study presentations, and a formal visioning process, we will have a clear outline of how we can leverage technology to achieve and extend the impact that learning from works of art has upon our nation’s students.”

Participants at the Distance Learning Summit come from major museums and arts organizations across the country, as well as from smaller regional museums, all of them experimenting with various technologies and methods to find workable and effective distance learning solutions. Some 50 representatives will be in attendance, including educators from local and regional museums, including the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock and the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Okla.; as well as national museums, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Amon Carter Museum of Art. Several institutions will present case studies, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, North Carolina Museum of Art, Art 21 and MoMA.

“While technological tools cannot replace the direct experience of original objects in museums, they offer unique assets that can support students’ critical thinking, collaboration and other key learning skills emphasized in schools today,” said William Crow, Managing Museum Educator, School and Teacher Programs, Metropolitan Museum of Art. “This summit poses an important question for all museum practitioners: How can these digital engagements complement, expand or deepen encounters with the museum?”

# # #