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Perceived usefulness of online educational museum resources by teachers Open Access


Author or creator
Sham, Cherry
Additional contributors
Campbell, Kathryn J. (Supervisor)
online resources
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The International Council of Museums (ICOM) defines a museum as “a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.” As described by ICOM, every museum has a mandate to share and communicate our collective heritage with the public and one of the key ways to meet this mandate is through education programs, in particular, through online resources. Understanding how museums can better deliver resources to educators is the motivation for this research project. Through a qualitative research study, this paper aims to gain insight into what teachers find useful about online educational museum resources, with the results contributing to the development of more effective digital resources in the future. This research project will attempt to understand and evaluate the content of online educational museum resources from the teachers perspective. The theoretical framework for this research project is Davis’ Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and more specifically, the concept of the perceived usefulness of a technology. By understanding the qualities of online educational resources that contribute to the perceived usefulness of the website, museums can develop better resources and which in turn, can lead to greater adoption of online resources. Major questions for this project include: • What qualities of an educational website do teachers find useful? Why? • What factors contribute to a website’s perceived usefulness? Why? This research project is an exploratory study focused on how teachers use online educational museum resources, specifically the Glenbow Museum’s online exhibition website titled Niitsitapiisini: Our Way of Life (
). The Blackfoot website was selected as a common discussion point for all interviewees as a way to focus the investigation about online user experiences with educational resources. Through qualitative research methods this project hopes to identify patterns of technology use and provide insight into how teachers determine if a resource is useful or not. Four teachers were interviewed (by telephone) for this project. Interviews were study using grounded theory procedures. The data was grouped together according to similar themes and was analyzed for any common patterns or trends across the four interviews. The data has been presented here in two main sections. Firstly, there is a background profile of the teachers based on their answers to the questions about general demographics, museum knowledge and technology usage. Secondly, there is a section about factors of perceived usefulness of web resources, which contain the descriptions of the teachers’ online user experiences. This study sought to explore the qualitative aspects of teacher user experiences with online educational museum resources, capturing their opinions and views in their own words. Using the TAM model as a framework, the interviews were conducted with the goal of understanding what makes online resources useful to teachers. More specifically, this study sought to determine what aspects of the user experience contributed to the perceived usefulness of the website, with the assumption that increased perceived usefulness leads to greater adoption of the resource. The findings show that the teachers in the sample evaluated websites based on several web usability factors, including: 1) features and functionality; 2) readability; 3) relevance and 4) findability. Within each of those categories there were several specific topics raised by the teachers, notably, the need for audio equivalences for text, the challenge of too much text, the ability to customize and personalize content for students, and more transparent authorship. By addressing these categories with a greater understanding of how teachers approach and use resources in the classroom, resource developers can increase the usability of their online educational resources.

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