Proposals are now open for MEET 2021 (more about the MEET day generally is here).

Submit your proposal using the form below or online via our Google Form by COB Friday 23 April (AEST).



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Consulting Young Children: Experiences from a Museum #TBT

For this #throwbackthursday post I’m revisiting a study conducted at the Australian Museum with very young audiences and a published paper resulting from this. The reason? A new project I’m working on which I’ll talk more about soon…


Dockett, S., Main, S. and Kelly, L. (2011). Consulting Young Children: Experiences from a Museum. Visitor Studies, 14(1), pp.13-33.


Since 1999, the Australian Museum has provided a designated play/learning space for young children aged 0–5 years. A recent redevelopment and redesign of the museum provided a valuable opportunity for a team of museum staff and university researchers to consult with young children about their experiences and expectations about this play space and the museum generally. This article reports the processes of consultation; methods used to consult with children; issues identified by the children involved; and the ways in which children’s perspectives influenced the design of the new Kidspace. In particular, the authors noted the importance of children’s journals as both a means of constructing data and as a means for reflection on the importance of social spaces in research with children. Underpinning the project was a commitment to recognizing young children as competent social actors, with the right to be consulted on matters that are important to them.

The full article can be downloaded from this link.


These are worth re-visiting:

#MEET2021 #AMAGA2021

Created with Nokia Smart CamMEET is the annual gathering of educators, evaluators and technologists working across the cultural sector, held in conjunction with the AMaGA National Conference.

This year MEET will be held during the conference on Thursday 10 June, 9-11.30am at the National Portrait Gallery.

The theme for this year’s MEET is Looking Back Looking Forward.

We will be seeking submissions for either a 15-minute presentation OR a seven-minute lightning talk from people working in the education, evaluation and technology fields that:

  • highlight a program with an education / learning focus
  • is primarily digital
  • has an evaluation component

Talks will be structured around:

  • What have we learned?
  • What are the opportunities going forward?
  • How will we now work differently?
  • Noting that the word ‘pivot’ is banned!

We will be setting up a Google doc for submissions very soon, so watch this space, or join one of the Networks here to get updates.


  • Contact Dr Lynda Kelly, Convenor, Evaluation and Visitor Research National Network, evrnnma@gmail.com
  • Updates will be provided on this blog and via email to Network members
  • NOTE: If you are a member of the EVRNN you may be eligible to apply for a bursary – details have been emailed to all EVRNN members today. But hurry – applications close Monday 28 March

Not another digital trends post? Well, yes, OK then…

Gratuitous foto of my 2020 working-from-home office companion, Molly!

While working with the Australian National Submarine Museum on their digital strategy (background here), I both Googled and reached out to the Twitter community to seek their ideas and input. The following trends we considered while developing the strategy. Note that many are specifically related to the pandemic, but hoping the good that came out of our sector’s response to this will continue.


Social media:

Older Australians (“Senior Surfers” aged 50+):

Online time:




General museum trends

Received the latest Museums in 2020+ by Ece Özdil, Founder of Jüniör. This is an update from her 2018 report, the latest being called Search for Meaning, with some good examples attached to each trend. Here’s the ones I found intriguing:

Loyalty revolution and the importance of memberships

Re:engagement, with the focus on not doing digital for digital sake – it must be aligned to strategy and “… driven by meaningful engagement.”

Accessibility online – “museums need to balance their experience and service offer considering the social, digital and cultural divide that the digital world might bring to people’s lives.”

Education recoded – digital as a tool for learning activities. However, worth reading this post: COVID-19 Has Taken a Toll on Museum Education highlighting survey findings that “… staff positions most affected by layoffs and furloughs due to COVID-19 were Guest Services/Admissions/Front of House/Retail (68%) and Education (40%).”

Neo-agile museum – with an understanding that agile processes are not only the remit of digital departments and require institution-wide commitment

Collections explained – visitors will increasingly expect a personal connection with curators, as many experienced this through the pandemic. How will museums continue this engagement?

Data frontiers – and data transparency

And, finally. Our friends at MuseumNext have also been thinking about trends and asked for predictions – here’s their list: Museum Digital Predictions for 2021.

Hope you’ve enjoyed, and Happy New Year!

Are Australians using technology more due to COVID-19?

The answer is YES … and, NO. This, the final post in a series, reports on data I’ve been gathering for a range of clients that sheds light on this finding.

MoAD Learning: Teachers

A survey of 120 teachers conducted for MoAD Learning (Canberra) found they were roughly evenly split about whether they were using tech more due to COVID-19:

  • 44% reported using a lot more
  • 38% somewhat
  • 18% no change

Their comments about this fell into four areas:

  1. No change as they have always integrated tech into their teaching practices
  2. Enhanced use of, and learning more about, some platforms
  3. Changed work practices due to tech
  4. Little or no change

The Australian National Submarine Museum

I have been fortunate enough to be working with folks from the (future) Australian National Submarine Museum (ANSM), an online museum due to be launched at the end of 2021. As part of this we conducted a survey with members of the Submarine Institute of Australia and the Submarines Association Australia.

Of our 171 respondents (mostly male and aged 50+) we found:

  • 27% using tech a lot more
  • 15% somewhat
  • 58% not really

Australian Population

As part of the ANSM project we undertook a general population sample of 200 Australians in November to make some comparisons to the membership across a range of areas, including technology. We found:

  • 33% using tech a lot more
  •    2% using it less
  • 10% somewhat
  • 43% not really

There were differences in gender and age:

  • Females and those aged 18-49 are using tech a lot more, and males / those aged 50+ reported they were using tech about the same as before – so, no real change for them (similar to the member survey above).

Some comments:

  • I’ve not previously shopped online but now find I’m willing to at least research these sites.
  • Spend more time in front of computer.
  • My reliance on and use of technology has increased noticeably during this time.
  • Everything feels the same way at home.
  • I didn’t have a smartphone before Covid-19. I didn’t see the need. But I love it now. I use it a lot for reading.

Final thoughts

Taken together, the issue appears to be that many Australians were already quite heavy users of technology for work and leisure, with the most notable increase due to COVID being online shopping and QR codes, as well as using Zoom as a platform for both work purposes and to connect with family and friends (with both positive and negative experiences reported). From the population survey, this particularly applies to younger Australians and women.

Teachers were also more likely to report using tech more, which is to be expected given the studies into students’ and teachers’ views about, and experiences with, remote learning.

I’m looking forward to 2021 to see if the lessons we’ve learned are applied to the ways we use tech, how we work, where and how we learn and how we communicate.

Previous posts in this series:


COVID-19 and Remote Learning Part 3: Some international data

This, the third post in a series about COVID and remote leaning, presents highlights from the report, Remote Education in Times of COVID-19: Digital Ethnographic Study – The ‘New Normal’ in Some Parts of the World, prepared by a range of researchers across Brazil, Italy, England and India.

It aimed to:

… analyse how Remote Education impacts children and young people in elementary and high school during social isolation in Brazil, Italy, France, and Portugal. We heard their voices about expectations, perceptions, and experiences to describe and make sense of this particular socio-educational time.

The sample is comprised of mothers, teachers, university professors, psychologists and students across Brazil. Italy, France and Portugal.

There is a lot of very interesting data in the report, with their conclusions worth repeating:

  1. Remote Education does not comply with the transfer of face-to-face classroom to home
  2. Collaboration, dialogue between the parties, is one of the keys to the development of Remote Education
  3. Technologies in tune with reality and the preparation for their use are fundamental elements to develop Remote Education
  4. The focus on human interaction rather than content is essential for the schooling process in any teaching situation
  5. Changes in the evaluation paradigm, pedagogical and instructional are necessary to understand the connection and inseparable parts of teaching and learning
  6. Control is replacing for autonomy; instruction for mediation and, didactic for self-learning
  7. The teacher’s continued training can take place online, by interactional and interdisciplinary parameters rather than curricular and structured ones
  8. Routines, planning, organisation are shared from bottom-up not top-down
  9. Education systems need to come into line with families’ reality
  10. Digital platforms need to adjust to the user in real-time
  11. Curricula and programs need to be mediated by the school in collaboration with parents and students
  12. The school redefines its role: as media for sharing and reconciles rather than controlling and punishing

Similarly to the Australian study (which the authors also cited in their report), responses to remote learning can be both negative in regards to stress, overwork and uncertainty, and positive with many seeing opportunities to adapt elements of digital learning back in the classroom. However, access is still an issue, with different approaches to pedagogy across different countries also influencing how (and whether) students are given agency in their learning. In this regard their final recommendation is worth thinking about:

  1. 13. Observing and listening to the student become the norm, and the students are considered autonomous, critical, transformative, and able to become agents of their learning.

The report is in draft mode at the moment and can be accessed via this Google doc.

My final post in this series looks at how COVID-19 has impacted Australians’ use of technology generally. The answer may surprise you!

The COVID Classroom Part 2: How do teachers feel about remote learning?

This is the second post about remote learning, specifically relating to teachers. The first post reported on a Victorian study about how students were responding to remote learning.

The Melbourne Graduate School of Education conducted a national survey looking at the impact of COVID-19 with teachers. The report, Examining the impact of COVID-19, is summarised below.

Topline findings:

  • 49% reported all students had access to devices and 43% most of their students
  • 10% identified they had reliable internet all the time – 70% reported stable and reliable internet available to students 75% of the time
  • 15% reported that students always attended online classes at the designated times and 16% only half the time
  • 54% reported that students completed their work most of the time and 26% about half the time
  • 34% somewhat disagree to strongly disagree that students were well prepared to engage in learning online in the home environment, 30% were somewhat prepared – more secondary teachers felt students were better prepared for remote learning
  • 53% of primary teachers identified that the work standard during the remote learning period was not at the same standard as face-to-face teaching
  • 65% of secondary teachers reported that students were producing the same standard of work in the home environment as they would in the classroom environment
  • In the comments teachers identified that significant parent support resulted in higher quality work produced by students

Education Progress

Education teachers were concerned about the impact that a change of routines and programs would have on their students. Teachers who indicated that there would be positive educational outcomes for their students focused on skills such as their students’ improved use of technology and an improvement in independence, organisation and resilience. Many teachers indicated that there were going to be both positive and negative impacts on their students, depending on the amount of support their students had received during the remote learning period, especially for those learning at home. Teachers indicated that the better the support at home the more positive educational outcome for students.

Social and emotional

  • While not at a physical site, many students found means and ways of communicating with one another anyway
  • Teachers were optimistic that remote learning would develop a greater appreciation of friendship in their students, and also a valuing of attributes such as connectedness, empathy, and kindness
  • Teachers felt that social and emotional learning could take a more prominent role in school when students return to school

Teachers and remote learning

  • More than two-thirds of all teachers indicated that they worked more hours than usual every week
  • Around 50% reported working more than 6 hours extra each week, with some working more than an extra 20 hours per week
  • 78% agreed to varying degrees to feeling well prepared and supported for remote teaching
  • 50% were given professional development, 77% extra time and 68% curriculum development support

Tools they used

There were a wide range of platforms and tools accessed by teachers in remote learning:

  • Pre-recorded videos
  • Learning platforms such as Edrolo, Google Classroom, teacher dashboard 365
  • Microsoft Teams, Zoom
  • Secondary teachers used OneNote, Canvas, Compass, SEQTA, eLearn and Blackboard Collaborate

Their concerns

  • Not being able to interact with students, see their expressions, or have 1:1 conversations
  • Their own personal health and wellbeing, feeling isolated and exhaustion
  • Inequity for some students in terms of access to technology and parental support


  • Engagement improved for some students who would normally be disruptive and for those who would be affected by disruptions in class
  • Some students’ organizational and time management skills improved
  • Remote learning encouraged more creative approaches
  • An improved partnership with parents and carers
  • Huge increase in staff collegiality and collaboration, as teachers relied on one another when transitioning to online platforms

Finally, the researchers concluded that:

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education will have far reaching consequences. A better understanding of the experiences of educators and students across the nation is essential in informing what supports and adjustments are needed now and into the future.

My next post looks reports on an international study conducted in the early stages of the pandemic.

The COVID Classroom: How do students and teachers feel about remote learning?

Undertaking some research for MoAD Learning looking at teachers and technology, with a little bit of COVID-19 thrown in too, because, why not?! In preparing for the study we found a number of reports looking into remote learning from the perspective of Australian students and teachers, and an international study.

This first post reports on a study from the Victorian Student Representative Council Learning from remote learning (June 2020).

The Victorian Student Representative Council LTD (VicSRC) is the peak body representing school-aged students in Victoria, with a vision of “  … education that’s flexible, relevant and includes students in all decisions”. VicSRC also states:

Students’ voices are often not heard in conversations about education and the education system, but in this report you will find the voices of hundreds of students wanting to share their opinions not only about remote and online learning, but about the education system as whole.

VicSRC surveyed 505 students and then undertook video consultations with a representative sample of 16 students to unpack the findings further.

Topline findings:

  • 90% reported learning from home during the pandemic
  • 68% liked that they could work at their own pace
  • 60% were more comfortable at home
  • 33% identified that spending more time with family was a positive
  • 33% reported that it was quieter at home
  • 30% said learning from home allowed them to sleep more – many found sleeping in and saving time travelling to school was helpful to their learning
  • They didn’t like the lack of interaction with their peers (61%) and a lack of communication with teachers (50%), and 50% felt they were given too much work by teachers
  • 64% felt they were keeping up with their work or felt more on top of their work than usual
  • 57% of primary students and 35% of secondary students were excited to go back to school, those that didn’t want to cited:
    • Feeling more comfortable at home
    • Able to work independently
    • Finding learning easier at home
    • Dissatisfaction with their school
    • Noise levels and disruption at school
    • Commute time
    • Fears about COVID-19 infections
    • Social anxiety

How did they find remote learning?

  • 34% felt more in control of their learning
  • 30% felt they had fallen behind / 16% felt they had fallen behind a lot
  • 20% stated not much had changed

What was their access like?

  • 91% had access to both internet and an appropriate device for learning
  •   7% had access to a device but not reliable internet
  •   2% only had access to the internet, not their own device

The study reported that:

Access to reliable internet and devices was a key element in whether remote learning from home was successful and effective. Students also commented that without internet or devices their ability to socialize and stay connected to friends, classmates and teachers was heavily impacted.

What parts of remote learning do students want to continue in face-to-face?

  • The ability for them to work at their own pace and decide when and how they would like to learn
  • Online options integrated into face-to-face learning – as they accessed new tools and platforms and wanted to continue using these in the classroom
  • A warmer and more comfortable environment at school that provides
  • More mental health support and a better school/life balance

Some comments:

Give students the choice to continue online learning or face to face. In other words, don’t make it mandatory for the student to JUST attend face to face classes to count as part of their attendance. I’d love some days where I don’t have the motivation to commute, if I could just have an online lesson. That would do wondrous things. (Year 11 student)

Home learning needs to be an option for all students, the pressure has been lifted and my mental health has never been better. Yes this isn’t for everyone but school isn’t for everyone either. (Year 12 student)

It’s a terrific report and well worth a read – the quotes from students in particular are really insightful. Download the report here.

My next post looks at a study with Australian teachers conducted by the Melbourne Graduate School of Education.


How is COVID impacting the Australian GLAM Sector? Part 2

The Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA) has been conducting industry research into the impacts of COVID-19 on our sector. This, the second post in a series, summarises main findings from the August survey (n=349). The March/April survey outcomes overview can be found here.

Overall Findings

  • Tourism is a big financial loss, as are schools for those that rely on that market for income.
  • Still an expressed need and desire for networking and connecting, except for Volunteer-run/Historical societies – their needs focus around income support.
  • Risks are around revenue and visitation, with 20 respondents (7%) stating permanent closure and 47 (15%) long-term closure and 107 (35%) stating long-term sustainability will be an issue for them.
  • Re-engaging with the community is also seen as a huge future risk across all sub-groups.
  • Morale is still pretty good, while not high, respondents across the board mainly said morale of their organisations and for themselves was generally good/positive.

Specific Findings

  • Organisational members are most concerned about revenue and visitation, and re-engaging with their communities. Income is an issue with more reporting cancelling programs and events, loss of entry fees, donations, retail, etc.
  • Individual members’concerns are more personal, although loss of income is still a worry, yet hasn’t fully affected them yet. While they don’t require economic support, a large majority have accessed Australian Government support.
  • Volunteer / Historical Society respondents are more likely to be based in regional/remote areas, be locked down and / or closed to visitors. All sources of income have been greatly affected, including membership, and they require economic support – none have accessed State Government funding, although Local Government funding has been accessed. They are also least likely to be doing any online programming – this is the same finding as in the April survey.
  • Regional and Remote members aremost concerned about income loss from a range of activities – visitors generally, school students, tourism and decreased sales/merchandise. Given this, they are not seeking PD or advocacy – the support they want is around income and grants. Re-engaging with their communities, membership retention and new members, as well as volunteers not returning are seen as their greatest risks.

Members facing long-term or permanent closure; or who have fears for their long-term sustainability

This sub-sample (n=174) was chosen to see the effects of C-19 on this group specifically. As expected, they are reporting more loss of income and jobs and therefore, less stability and wanting more support across all areas – focussing on income, grants and economic advice, and wanting assistance with digital, advocacy and PD. This group also comprises those who contract to the sector, with their comments reflecting how much work has been cancelled and deferred. This demonstrates that there could be ‘hidden’ groups in the sector that might be flying under the radar and may not return after the pandemic eases, echoing similar findings to the Museum Freelance (UK) study. More on that, plus other industry COVID surveys, reports and insights, will be the subject of my next blog post.

Another reminder that we are about to launch our final touchpoint November survey so watch your inboxes and social channels.

And, if you’re not a member of AMaGA please consider joining to support our sector and access awesome PD and events. Go here to join.

How is COVID impacting the Australian GLAM Sector? Part 1

The Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA) has been conducting industry research into the impacts of COVID-19 on our sector. I have been working on the analysis, pulling out key ideas and trends. To date we have conducted two surveys – March-April (n=392) and August (n=349).

As context, Australia was in lockdown from March, with many States and Territories opening up in June (some a little earlier). Victoria went into a second-stage lockdown in July, and have only just re-opened.

AMaGA conducted the first survey early into the pandemic to uncover immediate impacts of COVID on both organisational and individual members.

Some of the specific findings included:

Galleries seemed to be hardest hit in term of loss of revenue, but have taken up the opportunity to increase digital output, probably because this was not a priority for them before. Galleries were also highly more likely to have cancelled contractor/freelancers and artists and a higher reliance on sponsorship which they report has declined.

Volunteer-run and Historic Societies were less likely to take up digital, probably to do with resourcing and skills. They also had significantly more concerns about re-opening, with volunteers reticent to come back to physical sites. These organisations were also more significantly suffering loss of income, especially as they were more likely to be relying on grants, donations and admission fees.

Local Government organisations are wanting to connect and network, and were concerned about re-opening, reporting lower morale – some reported that the pandemic demonstrated to them that they were not necessarily seen as an essential service, with the work they do not well-understood by Councils.

Museums had a high reliance on admission fees as revenue source.

Some other issues that emerged were:

Across all organisation types Government packages were not available (at that time) and there was concern expressed around the economic incentives available to the sector, especially given that the identified greatest risks to their recovery post-COVID were identified as a substantial drop in revenue and visitation (including schools), collapse of tourism, attracting new members and managing volunteers into the future.

Other support the sector felt was needed at the time, apart from financial assistance and grants, were:

  • IT / digital support
  • Ways to stay connected
  • How to continue collection management and other work without volunteers on site
  • Advocacy

This survey was repeated in August (with slightly different questions) – my next post outlines summary findings.

A reminder that we are about to launch our final touchpoint November survey so watch your inboxes and social channels.

And, if you’re not a member – please consider joining! Go here.