The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Podcasting Museums

Need something with which to occupy your commuting time? How about "iTunes U"?

At least once a month, I travel 300+ kilometers between my hometown and the city where I work, to visit over a weekend. If I decide not to drive, this means I have a long coach ride of over 3 hours during which I need to entertain myself. I've recently been playing around with iTunes U, a section on the iTunes store that allows you to download free lectures from universities and cultural institutions like museums. The quality is variable, mostly because the podcasts often supplement a full course, the content of which is obviously not available to the general public. (It's quite difficult to enjoy a lecture on Heidegger, for example, if you don't have the textbook or course pack with which to follow along the professor's discussion. This is apart from the fact that it may well be objectively difficult to enjoy a lecture on Heidegger, period!)

The most successful lectures, I find, are those which stem from guest lectures by renowned scholars speaking on a topic of their choice. While they are sufficiently general to be accessible without the need for a textbook, they are also intellectually stimulating. A museum-related example is a lecture given by Jeffrey Smith, an educational psychologist now working at the University of Otago in New Zealand. For those of you without access to iTunes, here is another link to the podcast: Museum Pieces: How Cultural Institutions Educate and Civilise Society There is also a video version here. Take a listen and let me know what you think. I found some of the concepts interesting, while others seemed painfully obvious or basic - what about you?


Amy said...

Ah, yes. I read about this a while ago, but haven't had a chance to try it out yet. Will put it on my 'to do' list. :)

Amy said...

Well, I listened to it on the way back from the Library today. I agree, a lot of what he said was obvious - but, of course, we're approching his lecture from a museology background. I got the impression that his audience was probably quite diverse, and perhaps mostly from educational studies. Anyway, after he'd finished waffling for the first ten mins or so (lame jokes and effusive gushings about his wonderful wife Lisa), his concepts were quite interesting, especially the stuff about 'aesthetic fluency.' I don't have a museum education background and I'm only just getting to grips with Bourdieu, so it was pretty revelatory for me. He might even make it into my thesis. ;) My assessment? Definitely worth a listen.

Have also downloaded the Open University series on heritage. Might write a post about that later.