Look Again

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll be aware that several members of the Learning Team have at different times worked with Ookls.

I was recently asked to write an article for Arts Professional magazine about our experiences of working with Ookls, which I share below. (Apologies by the way, for the rather stilted first paragraph – this was where the editor wielded the red pen most on my original article…)

Image, Using an OOKL in The Manchester Museum

Look again

New technology, when handled well, can aid interactive learning for schoolchildren in galleries, Neil Dymond-Green believes.

OOKL is a mobile phone with software that connects it to a website. Users can take pictures, write comments and record audio. The phone then uploads this content to a website. Users can manipulate image, text or voice recording into simple presentations or download them. They can read and ‘borrow’ fellow users’ content to supplement their own work. It sounds simple enough, so how does it work in practice?

The Manchester Museum has used OOKL with a range of age groups in primary and secondary schools.

One project made use of its two-way nature: a member of the secondary learning team captured images of exhibits along with information and questions, creating an interactive trail. The content, based on evidence for evolution and adaptation in animal life, was available both from the phones and from the website, giving the stimulus to extend the pupils’ research.

The second was a project with a class of 10 and 11 year olds. The aim was to give children an insight into how objects end up in museums, from taking part in a simulated archaeology dig and classifying and reporting on finds, through working with a curator to explore objects normally hidden in the museum stores and exploring conservation issues with a conservator. The process continued with children critiquing displays in galleries in both the Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery. This culminated in the creation of ‘The Museum of Me’ – a museum of personal objects, where the children took full control of labelling, display and presenting the museum to visitors.

OOKL was an invaluable part of this process as the children could capture thoughts, ideas and analysis very quickly, supplementing writing and sketching. This was especially motivating for those more confident at verbalising ideas than writing them. The children also liked the idea that they could access their content from the website – one child independently Googled OOKL, worked out how to log in and explained it to classmates before I had a chance to. The children used the content in their final presentations on the project.

The technology has the ability to motivate pupils, support them in accessing museum and gallery collections, and extend and develop learning outside the classroom. There’s every reason to believe that this could work for other arts organisations as well. I’m sure we’ve only begun to unlock the potential of OOKL and look forward to exploring more ways to use new technology to aid learning.

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