This, the sixth in a series on transformative learning (see below for references to other posts), looks specifically at transformative learning experiences provided by the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House (MoAD).
MoAD’s approach to learning is expressed in the following:
Learning is a complex and personal process occurring in many contexts. At its core is the importance of personal experience, transformation, understanding, identity and agency.
MoAD embraces the following statement as the bedrock of its learning strategy:
Grow the museum as a leading educational institution providing safe opportunities for deep engagement in the ideas and practices of democracy and civic participation … by providing unique and transformative learning experiences that explore what it means to be an informed and engaged citizen.
At a workshop held with a range of MoAD staff they reflected on what a transformative learning experience looks like for visitors to their site – both as through the actual visit experience and the desired outcomes / post-visit actions.
What are the elements of a museum experience that support transformative learning?
- “Ah hah” moments
- Extend onsite with online experiences
- What are we looking at – an experience that transforms or a transformative experience?
- Something that shifts a visitor’s perspective?
- Need to acknowledge the role of prior knowledge
Some aspects that have made a difference:
- an emotional connection
- intellectual surprise
- stretches your boundaries
- feels authentic
- giving permission to do something / think some way that’s not obvious
- an unexpected surprise
- capturing my imagination
- triggering an emotional response
- sharing with others
- constantly coming back to it
- “Take a walk in someone else’s shoes”
- learning what you think you are capable of and, more importantly / surprisingly, what you are not capable of
- building confidence
Some other aspects:
- Physical sensations – this is often underestimated in TL
- Connecting experiences beyond the MoAD one
- Being an informed citizen
- Long term outcomes – ultimately did it make me change??
What do we want MoAD visitors to go away with / do post-visit?
- Talk about / share experience with others
- Question and reflect
- Take action:
- participate – sign a petition, stand for parliament, volunteer
- read / buy a book
- actively look for / seek information
- Come back to museum – online, physical site
- Interact with the museum:
- follow on social media
- like / comment on a Facebook post
- recommend us on Trip Advisor
- leave a positive Google review
- sign up to e-newsletter
- [for other museums] join members
- be advocates for MoAD
- For MoAD as an organisation:
- an understanding about the museum – that it is the Museum of Australian Democracy, not only Old Parliament House
- see the museum as more than just about Parliament and parliamentary processes
- see democracy as a bigger concept than politics, with an understanding about what I can do at a grassroots level: leading to being an informed and active citizen
And finally, a general appreciation and valuing of museums and heritage sites as both places for leisure and as transformative spaces.
These ideas will be tested out progressively with MoAD visitors, including teachers, over the next few months so watch this space to see how we’re travelling. You can also follow MoAD on Twitter – @MoAD_Canberra and @moadlearning.
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