When I started my new job at the museum in the spring of 2007, we had just received a grant from the Verizon Foundation and had joined their Thinkfinity Consortium. Thinkfinity.org is an online portal that provides access to tens of thousands of free, standards-based educational materials produced by Thinkfinity’s content partners.
As the museum’s Education Technologist I was tasked with managing the design and production of a new Web site that would allow teachers, parents, and students to quickly find and use the wealth of educational resources the museum has to offer and to have it ready by the fall of 2009. No problem.
OK, small problem. We first had to develop a process to inventory and tag the museum’s hundreds of online resources in a way that’s useful for teachers but that would also be helpful to parents and students. Through the hard work and creativity of our museum educators and a number of dedicated interns we built a process for tagging every online educational resource with a full description, relevant keywords, grade range, and format, as well as the national standards for history. We’re still tagging every day, but should have all our materials inventoried by the end of 2009. Woo hoo!
One of the best things about working on this project has been our Teacher Advisory Group, affectionately referred to as the “TAG.” This group of volunteer teachers from across the country has been with us from Day 1 and has collaborated on every feature and facet of the new site. They even helped us narrow down and select the name for the site, “Smithsonian’s History Explorer.” I think their enthusiasm and creative ideas will shine through when you see the new site.
Speaking of which, the site will launch on September 15th—but here is a special sneak preview for our blog readers. We’d love to hear what you think about the site, how you use it, and your ideas for new tools and functions. We’re already working on plans for new tools and educational materials for 2009. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.