Videoconferencing with museums, galleries, archives and libraries

By Anra Kennedy | 10 February 2009
An image of a woman holding a basket and peering at a fossil

Videoconferencing with Mary Anning, 19th century fossil collector, from the Natural History Museum. © Natural History Museum

Videoconferencing adds a whole new dimension to teaching and learning, connecting classrooms directly with an increasingly wide range of cultural venues and through them with experts in their fields and interpretation of source material.

The quality and quantity of sessions on offer from the cultural sector is rising steadily as both education officers and teachers learn how to make the most of this exciting technology.

Several of the UK's cultural organisations are old hands at videoconferences by now, offering rich and comprehensive services.

The Natural History Museum's Dino Dan|www.nhm.ac.uk/education/school-activities/gallery-characters/dino-dan/} will enthrall KS1 children with talk of dinosaurs and exploration.

An E-Mission Montserrat videoconference for older students puts them in control of damage limitation when a volcano erupts on Montserrat via both videoconference and an interactive website, courtesy of The National Space Science Centre.

GCSE students investigating Jack the Ripper can analyse reams of evidence from the time including the police investigation, census material and the famous Ripper letters in one of many National Archives videoconferences.

Janet Collaborate has been the central 'timetabling' service for videoconferences in all UK schools via the National Education Network. Many museums are part of the project and list sessions on the site. Although the JANET Collaborate prototype site has been retired, the information on Content Provider sessions is still available via the website. Click on the link above for more details.

Global Leap is another organisation working in the field - supporting and enabling a range of providers, including many museums, to offer videoconferencing sessions. Again, you need to register with their website to view and make bookings. There is a small subscription charge.

As we discover more great videoconferencing out there, we'll update this piece for you.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned: