Curating Virtual Exhibits for Social Studies

September 29, 2020

Recently, along with Raquel Solorzano-Duenas and Pete Nguyen (my husband), both teachers at Western High School in Anaheim, CA, I presented at CUE-Nevada’s virtual conference, CUE’D UP 2020 on Curating Virtual and Augmented Exhibits for Social Students. Virtual exhibits can be a convenient and affordable way to expose students to historical and cultural artifacts and supplement a teacher’s curriculum. With the tools now available to educators, teachers and students can create their own online exhibits to connect with a global audience. And during a time when field trips are not running for safety purposes and cut budgets, this would be a great alternative.

Museums have been developing virtual exhibits to help share resources and information to a greater audience beyond those that can physically visit. Check out the National Museum of African American History & Culture “We Return Fighting: The African American Experience in World War I” and the British Museum’s Museum of the World interactive exhibit experience that spans time, continents and culture.

During our presentation at CUE’D UP 2020, Raquel shared how her AP History students created virtual museums using David Lee’s template on Google Slides rather than write an essay on the causes of the Great Depression. Each slide in the template represented a room in a museum where the students demonstrated their understanding of the causes of the Great Depression with audio narration, text, images, charts and videos.

Raquel’s AP History students worked in small groups to complete the virtual museum, dividing the research, artifact collection, building of the slides and recording narration. “They learned that anything they create online can be seen and heard by others,” noted Raquel. In addition to learning how synthesize information about the causes of the Great Depression, Raquel’s students learned about creating a positive digital footprint and how to collaborate online.

“My students gained confidence in recording themselves and using the apps involved in the Museum project,” Raquel shared. “They also grew confidence in tackling a project as a group by learning how to be responsible for their own piece which contributed to the whole project.”

Another great example of this innovation is a project Raquel assigned using Edrenaline Rush’s Netflix template for US History. Students were able to break down key concepts and events into individual “episodes.” This exercise was helpful for students as they synthesized new ideas to recap their understanding of content they covered.

Additional tools teachers can provide to students to record their reflections, interviews and presentations include:

  • Flipgrid provides simple, free and accessible video discussion experience. Teachers can assign topics where students can video record their presentations, reflections and interviews. Teachers can keep the videos private or enable public viewing just by sharing a link. Teachers may also print the videos QR code where viewers can view the videos in augmented reality using the Flipgrid app.
  • Anchor, a podcast recording app, makes recording and posting podcasts easy for students and teachers. Anchor allows users to create and host unlimited episodes for free and distribute them easily.
  • Another audio recording app that makes recording easier between distances is the StoryCorps Connect Since 2003, StoryCorps’s mission has been to preserve and share humanity’s stories to build connections between people. During the pandemic, they created a free platform that allows users to participate in a StoryCorps interview with another person, remotely. When I taught freshmen and sophomores, I had assigned StoryCorps’ The Great Thanksgiving Listen as a project. There is an entire section for educators and teachers to help plan this project with their students.
  • Google Tour Creator allows students to create their own virtual reality tour using 360° imagery from Google’s Street View or their own 360° images. I worked with third graders who were creating VR tours of their assigned cities for their social studies county project. Each tour can be published privately or publicly and can be shared via a link. For this project, the teacher created QR codes for each tour and displayed them in her room for an open house. For a virtual open house, these links can be posted on any platform that allows hyperlinking.

Ways to share virtual exhibits.

There are a variety of ways to share the online exhibits with a wider audience.

  • Flipgrid’s Mixtapes enables educators to showcase student videos across any topic and share with others. Educators should make sure to have parents sign consent and release forms if planning to share student recordings outside of the classroom.
  • Wakelet is a curation tool that makes it easy to share videos, pdfs, images, tweets, and documents. Wakelets can be shared via URL or embedded on a blog or website.
  • On Google Site students can create their own virtual museum website and post their curated materials.
  • School or Library website – The school or district librarian can be the greatest partner for curating and displaying virtual exhibits. District librarians are great sources of information for these types of projects and can help post students’ virtual museums on their website.

In a remote learning environment, educators can still foster community and collaboration with projects like virtual museums or exhibits. Designing projects like these provide students opportunities to master understandings of core concepts and deliver an innovative well-rounded product.

All Covered Education has been helping schools develop solutions for remote and hybrid learning. We can help your teachers develop the skills to teach remotely using the applications and resources already available to them as well as provide the technical tools to help bridge teaching and learning in various settings.

Judy Nguyen
Teaching & Learning Consultant