What is an Educational Virtual Museum?

Virtual Museums were first introduced at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) National Educational Computer Conference (NECC) in 2005. The slideshows were developed and presented by educators from Keith Valley Middle School in Horsham, Pennsylvania. It is with appreciation to Valerie Fasy, Diane Heitzenrater, Stacy Rotchford, and Greg Telthorster that the virtual museum idea, samples, and instructions are available to other educators. They began using virtual museums as a replacement for the original art history report done in 6th grade Art 1 courses, and later realized the potential for the museums across the curriculum. Students at Keith Valley Middle School are successfully developing virtual museums from scratch, and are using these museums to further their knowledge of curricular objectives in academic subjects in addition to art.

Keith Valley technology teachers have provided a useful site for learning to create virtual museums. There, you will find documents providing detailed descriptions (as well as screenshots) to guide you through the creation of a virtual museum. The following documents (created by Keith Valley personnel) have proven particularly helpful as I began developing my own virtual museums:

  • Building a Room in Perspective
  • Creating a Virtual Museum Using One-Point Perspective
  • Hanging Paintings in Your Museum

  • The Keith Valley site also includes examples of student-generated non-linear PowerPoint projects. Click here to download a student-made virtual museum on the topic of Vincent VanGogh.

    Virtual Museum Samples

    Enjoy viewing and using the virtual museum samples attached below. These examples were created by teachers of students in grades 3, 4, and 5 during a Teaching American History Grant module on Native Americans.

    Virtual Museum Templates

    Below are links to several sample virtual museum rooms I developed based on an example I was provided by the generous educators at Keith Valley Middle School. The first sample is a full template to use in the development of a virtual museum. Use and share it freely. The room samples, with the exception of "Class Slides," were all developed by Keith Valley personnel and I modified them for use in new museums. Note that the "rooms," as opposed to the template, do not include active links.

    Full Virtual Museum Templates

    • Warneka Design—4 rooms, 13 artifacts
    • Blue-Yellow Design—4 rooms, 16 artifacts
    • Grand Entry Design—5 rooms, 23 artifacts [Note: With the exception of the text and wall hangings, the graphic elements in the museum entrance are grouped. To make changes to this template, ungroup the project.]

    Virtual Museum Rooms

    Alternative Non-Linear PowerPoint Techniques

    During ISTE 2010, I had the privilege of learning about a new method of using non-linear PowerPoint. Michelle Lynn of Fox Creek Elementary in Highlands Ranch, Colorado along with Jessie Bertman, Kim Eikenberg, Lindsey Moore, Katie Patterson, Angel Wolf, and their students presented a poster titled "Interactive Primary Lesson or Non-linear Moon Phase PowerPoint." Their students combined a graphic of moon phases with the non-linear technique to create a project that demonstrated their understanding of their science content. You can see some examples of their student work at http://drop.io/nonlinearppt.

    After viewing their presentation, I realized their were many other ways to use the platform to teach or reinforce cross-curricular content. Of course, many have seen the techniques used to make game boards in the past, but here are some other ideas I hadn't seen before.

    Alternative Techniques [Note that the HTML versions linked below provide visual representations of the slideshows, but, in many cases, the internal links are inactive. You must download the PPT file to engage interactively.]

    • Booklist (PPT version/HTML version): Using a bookshelf concept, students place pictures of their recently read books on their home slide and provide synopses or personal recommendations about the books on the linked slides.
    • Book Report (PPT version/HTML version): Using simulated book tabs, students declare their knowledge of concepts such as plot, setting, characters, genre, and vocabulary as it relates to their selected books. See an example of a Nevada Report using this technique (PPT version/HTML version).
    • Timelines (PPT version/HTML version): Using pre-existing timelines or based on self-created timelines, students create links to information about each node on their timeline.
    • Maps (PPT version/HTML version): Using an exiting map, students create and place buttons over different locations on the map.* These buttons, then, link to pages referencing each of those locations.
    *If you wish to place an unseen button over another graphic, one option is to create a shape and place it directly over the graphic. This is particularly helpful when working with maps. To make it so you can use the button as well as see the graphic behind the button, make the fill color of the object transparent. Buttons will not work if you select "No Fill."

    Using Virtual Museum Templates

    This video introduces a method of creating virtual museum "rooms" in PowerPoint.

    Video: Creating Your Own Virtual Museum Rooms

    This video introduces a method of creating virtual museum "rooms" in PowerPoint.

    Benefits of Using Virtual Museums

    During an in-class activity of the Teaching American History Grant module on Native Americans and Technology Integration, third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers responded to prompts. The prompts and their responses appear below.

    • What is the purpose of a virtual museum?
      • They enable teachers to infuse 21st Century Skills into traditional learning.
      • They promote cross-curricular integration by having students link ideas.
      • The museums provide new, meaningful, and contemporary opportunities to integrate technology.
      • They help students gain presentation skills.
      • They motivate student learning through high-interest activities.
      • Research for the museum and the construction of the museum requires students engage in higher-level thinking.
      • They allow for differentiated instruction/learning.
      • They offer students opportunities to think flexibly and creatively.
      • Virtual museums offer a form of interactive and engaging learning.
      • They engage students in content learning.
      • They offer a form of visual and kinesthetic learning.
      • They are a means of sharing what students learn at school with their parents at home.
      • Virtual museums require students use research-based skills and primary sources.
      • They encourage students to write.
      • They appeal to students who are visual learners.
      • They teach design and aesthetic concepts taught in art classes, and, if including music, aural concepts and connections between art and music.
    • Other than virtual museums, what PowerPoint-based projects could you assign your students?
      • Timelines
      • Games: Jeopardy
      • Research Reports
      • Book Reports (e.g., each student in the class could write a book report and the artifacts on the walls would be the book covers)
      • Flipcharts
      • Presentations
      • Illustrated Glossaries
      • Flash Cards
      • Interactive Biographies
      • Role Playing Activities
      • News Articles
      • Virtual Field Trips
      • Video Slideshows
      • Picture Books for Sharing with Younger Students
    • How could you use virtual museums to teach integrated subjects?
      • Students could create rooms about topics other than history (e.g., math, science, literature, civics, geography).
      • Students could create rooms on a single theme with each room representing a different content area (e.g., If studying Galileo, one room may focus on geometry, one about daily living during his time, one with a written biography, and one on the science of his time).
      • Students could present the rooms in the form of an auction with bidding starting at a set amount for each picture.
      • Have students use the same pictures in each room, but use different writing styles for the placards (e.g., biography, persuasive, descriptive).
      • Use the museums to teach research, notetaking, and writing skills.
      • Have students create museums as portfolio assessments of all content areas from a single semester.
      • The teacher may use the museum development process to teach students to follow and give directions.
    • How would you organize your class and students if planning for them to create virtual museums?
      • Place students in heterogeneous or homogeneous groups depending on the teacher or school philosophy.
      • Offer student the opportunity to work on virtual museums in centers.
      • Organize students using a jigsaw method to first learn about content in one group and then the new group creates one room with the same content. All groups would complete museum rooms with the same content and students could compare and contrast the rooms.
      • Introduce the entire class to the virtual museum concept, and then have students rotate through the process by working in small groups.
      • Have students work in small groups. Each group populates one room and the whole class creates a single museum.
      • Have one or two students responsible for only one picture and one placard. The teacher could combine student work into the final museum.
      • Develop groups including novice and experienced technology users and novice and experienced writers.
      • Have the entire class create a single room using a projector. Students could vote on which pictures they feel are most applicable to the topic, and the class could collectively write the placards. Alternatively, each table group could collectively write a single placard.
    • How would you grade a virtual museum?
      • Is the museum visually appealing?
      • Do the placards include proper spelling and grammar?
      • Is the content accurate and thorough?
      • Did students work well collaboratively?
      • Did students employ strong organizational skills?
      • Do the placards match the pictures?
      • Use a student-generated rubric that includes an element of teacher observation.