Let’s make a video: students as active learners in the museum

At MoDA students use video-making as a way to learn about the museum’s collections.   We also use video to help students to learn skills that will be of use to them in later life.   Students become co-creators of knowledge through participation in video-making projects.
There are five key ways in which using video supports student learning:

Teodora Mitrovska

1. Students as video stars

We frequently invite students to present in front of the camera.  Students choose an object or group of objects that interest them, or which relate to their own work in some way.  We help them to think about what they want to say and to organise their ideas into a coherent storyboard.  Students such as Teodora Mitrovska or  Sarah Kadrnka develop their research and presentation skills.  They also have to think about appropriate tone and content.

Students learn a lot from participation in this kind of exercise, but the learning does not stop with the student who takes part.  Once they are online, these videos help other students to see the museum’s collections as relevant to their studies.


Naima Bakar

2. Video as a tool for self-reflection

Students frequently use MoDA’s collections as the starting point for creative inspirations.  We like to use video to ask students to reflect on this process.  Videos of students such as Naima Bakar and  Alex Beattie make clear that the experience of looking at items from the collections is one of active meaning-making.  Students use objects to connect with their own creative practice.

This self-reflection helps the students involved to clarify their own thought processes.  It is also helpful for other students who will watch the video online later.


Caroline Collinge

3. Real life briefs for student projects

Video projects at MoDA frequently involve students behind the camera as well as in front of it.   Student film crews work to a ‘real life brief’ in which MoDA acts as the client.  Examples include the student team which made a film of Caroline Collinge’s dance performance, and the team which filmed Naima Bakar.
Students need to learn to use all the relevant equipment, to work together, and to communicate effectively.  They also learn valuable real-world skills such as how to communicate with museum staff and interviewees in a professional manner.


4. Making research visible – academic staff and others as interviewees

We’re pleased that Middlesex University staff such as Dr Jill Stewart frequently agree to appear in front of the camera.  This gives them an opportunity to talk about how they use the museum’s collections in their teaching and research.
Again, this helps student viewers to connect the museum’s collections to other things they are learning about in the classroom. The experience also helps to develop academic colleagues’ confidence and ability at presenting in front of the camera.


5.  Learning from what we’ve done before

Over the years students and researchers have used MoDA’s collections in countless imaginative and creative ways.  Until now, we haven’t always recorded what they’ve done, so it’s difficult to remember exactly who did what.

Using video means we can refer back to past projects more easily.  The hope is that future cohorts of students will be able to learn from and be inspired by the ways in which previous students and others have used MoDA’s collections.

Using video means that as museum staff we have to be prepared to hand over the right to speak about museum objects.

Active Learning and Co-Creation

This approach means that ‘the museum’ no longer represents the voice of authority in quite the same way.  We want other people to co-create meanings with museum objects, working with us in a collaborative way.  Making short videos helps us to ensure that a wide variety of voices and viewpoints are represented on MoDA’s website.  This means that learning with and through the museum’s collections a truly collaborative process.
This post is a version of a paper given by MoDA’s Curator, Ana Baeza Ruiz, at the Universeum Conference, Mendel Museum of Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, in June 2019

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