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Resource Reviews

Reviews of new resources are also found in Roots, the biannual education journal from BGCI, back issues are available online.   Plus, we want to hear from YOU!  If you have found any great resources recently, a book, game, guidelines, website or article which you found really helpful, please share it with your colleagues around the world - send in 200 words about the resource, including how to get hold of it, and we'll put it on the website!

Reviews - July 2007

Saying it differently: A handbook for museums refreshing their display

Alison Grey, Tim Gardom and Catherine Booth
Renaissance London
ISBN 1-905911-00-9
London Museums Hub 2006

This guide has been produced as an outcome of ‘Say it again, say it differently’ project by the London Museums, 2004 – 2006.  Research found that only 56% of visitors to four museums in London found displays easy to understand.  Accessible text, presenting a structured story, which is developed and tested with target audiences in mind, will engage visitors, encourage them to read or discover more information, stay longer and visit again.  Practical suggestions on how to do this, and case studies demonstrating how this has been done, are presented in the handbook.

Although focussed on 5 London-based museum, the ideas and suggestions within the guidelines are applicable to any interpretation or learning-based site.  The text is broken down into 6 main parts

  • Discovery – looking at the organisation, audiences and what you offer to visitors
  • Creation - aims, objectives and vision for communication
  • Implementation I – design phase writing a creative brief, working with designers, writers etc to create interpretation
  • Implementation II – project management and planning, with formative evaluation
  • Saying it differently – the creative use of text to build pictures
  • Outcomes – evaluating to measure success, with examples of different methods for conducting and analysing evaluation.

Each part is based on findings from research at real sites, so represents an accumulation of knowledge and understanding from practitioners, not just theorists.  This makes it very valuable for the botanic garden educator, who has to implement suggestions.  The whole resource is full of hints and topics, from working with volunteers, to getting buy-in from the board of director, to addressing misconceptions with the staff (including the dreaded ‘dumbing down’) and within visitors, to selecting design teams.  The issues faced and dealt with through the ‘Say It again’ project are ones which will be familiar to many educators and interpreters. 

The content is very straightforward, and follows a time-line structure, guiding reader through the whole process.  The sections on working with words and investigating outcomes through evaluation are particularly helpful.  The resources section at the end includes checklists for writing a brief, a summary of learning styles, and a synopsis of evaluation. 

 

Reviews - April 2007

Action Research: Improving Learning through the Environment

Edited by Adrian Clarke, Helen Parry and Clare Shorter
A compilation of ideas for carrying out action research in order to improve learning through educational work in the environment.

 

Plants for Primary Pupils

In this series of booklets, SAPS presents activities to support the teaching of plants in the primary curriculum.  The first topics available are ‘Parts of a flower and their functions’ and ‘Reproduction and life cycles’.  Look out for part 3, ‘Living processes and what plants need to grow’ – coming soon.

 

Easy Access to Historic Landscapes

English Heritage
These guidelines provide practical advice on how to increase or improve access to a site in an inclusive and integrated way.  Produced by The Sensory Trust, a UK access charity, the guide introduces the principles of access, the process of creating an access plan and how to identify and solve access issues.  Although some of the information specifically relates to UK legislation, most of the key concerns will be similar for any site.  Case studies provide useful examples of improving access.
Hard copies are available for the cost of postage from BGCI.  Contact education@bgci.org for your copy.

 

Inspiring Learning for All

Describes what an accessible and inclusive museum, archive, library or other site which stimulates and supports learning looks like. Using Generic Learning Outcomes as a basis for programme aims and objectives.
It invites you to

  • Find out what the people that use your services learn
  • Assess how well you are achieving best practice in supporting learning
  • Improve what you do

Learning is now high on local, regional and national agendas. Inspiring Learning for All will transform the way in which museums, archives and libraries deliver and engage users in learning.