April 15-18, 2009
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Demonstrations: Description

Creative Spaces - National Museums Online Learning Project

Steve Gardam, Imperial War Museum, United Kingdom

Creative Spaces is a new application produced by the National Museums Online Learning Project (NMOLP) - a unique partnership of nine national UK museums and galleries.

The aim of this application is to take the partner museums into a dialogue with their users by providing the tools and inspiration to create museum-based online communities. This is hardly the first time any museum has 'gone Web 2.0', but it is the first time for many of these nine museums, challenging their own traditional one-way delivery of online information.

Creative Spaces is a Drupal based application with now-familiar functionality including groups, tagging, personal profiles and so forth. However, the core of Creative Spaces is the NMOLP federated search, which allows users to search across the online collections of the nine partner museums with ease, then save their favourite inspirational objects in Notebooks, which in turn form the basis of blogs, groups and the community itself.

Crucially, Creative Spaces is not a single new website - it is available within each of the partner museums' own online environments, and information is shared between these 'instances' providing a seamless experience for the user.

Creative Spaces is a companion application to WebQuests - an e-learning application designed to make the most of the federated search for UK schools. You can find out more at the workshop Developing effective e-Learning resources: a practical guide.

The NMOLP applications will only launch to the general public on 25 February 2009, so by conference-time their use will still be in its infancy. The partner museums are especially interested in hearing more about other uses of online communities to complement the work of museums. Creative Spaces will be available to artists, educators, learners, for everyone to discover, enhance, record and share their inspirations from nine amazing collections. User will also be able to contribute their own images, films and ideas.

The NMOLP partnership is still learning about what it takes to manage an online community. For all of us, this is an experiment about which we can only be certain it will provide some unexpected results!

The NMOLP partner museums are some of the most renowned in the UK: The British Museum, Imperial War Museum, Natural History Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Armouries, Sir John Soane's Museum, Tate, the V&A and the Wallace Collection. Creative Spaces provides unprecedented shared access to the best of these online collections.

Demonstration: Demonstrations 2 [Close Up]

Keywords: community, social, sharing, groups, notebooks, search