Making decisions about technology sometimes feels like an extended whitewater rafting trip with all whitewater and no stretches of calm water. Careful, thoughtful planning seems an impossible goal with the always changing currents of technology. The recent Horizon Reports, Museum Edition (2010 and 2011) offer a good starting point. The reports, produced by an international panel of museum, education and technology experts, focus on technology within a context of museum education and interpretation. They also identify the top technologies that we can expect to see in a wide market in the next few years. Most of my colleagues agree that the reports accurately reflect the current state of museums and technology. Granted, there is a wide spectrum of adoption when it comes to technology and many factors affect adoption, – including funding, expertise, and a leader’s vision. Yet, any institution, no matter its size and budget, must decide how many scarce resources to devote to technology projects.
Over the past fifteen years or so I have had the opportunity to explore the fascinating intersection of education and technology. I’ve worked for history museums that were willing to ask challenging questions and to take the time to try to figure out the Web and other new media. I’ve rolled up my sleeves to work on all kinds of Web-related projects. I’m not a techie and do not own the latest high-tech gadgets. I see myself as a big-picture person who tries to observe trends and find ways to help history organizations meet the tremendous technology demands they face.
It’s Your Turn
In keeping with the idea of the Horizon Report, I offer ten suggestions for history organizations struggling with adopting technology.
- Do you have other suggestions to add to the list?
- How do you approach the tough decisions about technology at your institution?
- How do you stay informed about technological trends?