What are AASLH Online Courses?

AALH Online Courses are designed for busy history-doers. Each course is offered twice a year, but class sizes are limited. Click here to view courses currently open for registration. Please see each individual course description for more information on course style and requirements.

Course Catalog

The newly revised Basics of Archives online course is designed to give organizations and individuals who are responsible for the care of historical records an introduction to the core aspects of managing and protecting historical records collections, using appropriate principles and best practices.

Course Logistics:

FORMAT: Online, self-paced course.

LENGTH: 4 weeks; 15-20 hours to be completed anytime during the four-week course period (dates above).

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Online chat. There are no required times to be online.

MATERIALS: There are no required texts for this course. All materials will be provided.

GRADING: Pass/Fail. You must complete all exams within the allotted four weeks in order to pass the course.

Course Description:

The newly revised Basics of Archives online course is designed to give organizations and individuals who are responsible for the care of historical records an introduction to the core aspects of managing and protecting historical records collections, using appropriate principles and best practices.

The course consists of five lessons:

  • Archives and Archivists
  • Acquiring Your Collections
  • Processing Collections
  • Housing Your Collections
  • Access and Outreach

Who Should Take This Course:

This course is a beginning level course designed for professional staff and volunteers of historical organizations and libraries with historical collections who have little to no experience with archival materials.

Instructor:

Charlie Arp has a BA and MA in history from Ohio University where he specialized in archival studies. From 1991 to 2003 he worked at the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) where he held a variety of positions including archival processor, reference archivist, Head of Reference, Assistant State Archivist and State Archivist. As Assistant State Archivist he was the digital projects coordinator and he formed and chaired the Ohio Electronic Records Committee, an interdisciplinary group formed to draft electronic records policy, guidelines, and best practices for state and local governments in Ohio.  As State Archivist he was a senior level manager responsible for the planning, coordination, and administration of the operations of the State Archives including the Local Government Records program and the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor Archives/Library.

In 2003 Charlie was hired by the Battelle Memorial Institute as Enterprise Content Manager. At Battelle Charlie pioneered managing electronic records in lieu of paper records. Charlie also supervised the Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) archives. GLP records fall under FDA regulations to ensure that the records documenting scientific research for substances put in or on humans are created reliably and maintained authentically over time. In 2015 Charlie tested and validated the use of an electronic management program to enable Battelle to create, manage, preserve and use electronic records as part of submissions to the FDA.

In early 2016 Charlie accepted an offer for early retirement from Battelle. Since then he has started an archival and records management consulting firm and is writing a book on archives.

Participant Feedback

“This course was exactly what we need to improve our rather small Collection and take it to another step. Thanks for all of the ideas and information. I am especially impressed with how well the course is organized and presented online. The site was very well thought out and presented no problems for me – a slightly challenged computer geek-wanna be.”

“This was a marvelous course and now I have confidence that I can do the work: material to reference and people to communicate with as needed.”

“I just wanted to say thank you for having this course.  It has really helped me decide what direction I want to make my education in and had definitely helped me with some of the smaller preservation jobs I take on at the library.”

Project Management for History Professionals

An AASLH Online Course

Course Description

Do you often juggle several projects, trying to keep each one focused and on track? Project management provides valuable training that will help you organize, manage, and successfully complete projects. This online course shows you how to implement internationally recognized project management principles in a history/nonprofit context.

Coursework will cover all of the details included in the four steps to successful project management:

  1. Define (creating a project charter, setting initial objectives, identifying risks and constraints, and more)
  2. Plan (developing a schedule, budget, etc.)
  3. Manage (providing feedback, negotiating for resources and resolving differences)
  4. Review (turning over deliverables, documentation and more)

Using a real-life project they bring to the course, participants apply project management principles to complete a project charter and scope diagram they can then use to begin or continue their project in an efficient, orderly and open manner.

This course consists of four modules that include assignments, quizzes, and other activities. While the first week’s module is guided, the rest are self-paced. Weekly online chats provide opportunities for students to interact with the instructor and each other.

Students should expect to spend five to seven hours per week on the course.

Course Logistics

FORMAT:

LENGTH:

PARTICIPATION STYLE:

MATERIALS:

Who Should Take This Course

Project Management is valuable training for staff at all levels. Whether your work involves exhibitions, education and programs, planning, fundraising, collections, historic preservation or the many other tasks staff at history organizations address every day, you will gain new skills, ideas and tools for effectively managing projects.

Instructor

AASLH welcomes Gina Minks as its new project management instructor. For the past five years, Gina has had her own consulting business and taught project management classes for the University of North Texas. She has also taught for the Library Information Technology Association and the Society of American Archivists. Prior to that, she served as the Imaging and Preservation service manager for Amigos Library Services where she managed NEH grants. Gina is active in professional associations including her current service as a board member for the Society of American Archivists Foundation. She is also a member of the National Heritage Responders and has been part of disaster recovery after Hurricane Ike, Hurricane Wilma, and Super Storm Sandy.

Participant Feedback

“Project management is usually discussed in terms of software development or construction management. It was so helpful to see its value within a humanities context. This is some of the best professional development I have ever experienced. Excellent instruction.” – 2015 participant

Small Museum Pro! Track

The following courses are part of AASLH’s Small Museum Pro! certificate program. Small Museum Pro! is a professional certificate program for history practitioners who work or would like to work, in small history-minded organizations. It provides practical guidance and education on a variety of topics.

Caring for Museum Collections

An AASLH Online Course

Course Description

This eight week course will deal with the physical care and preservation of your museum collections. This practical course will cover how collections age and deteriorate, handling collections, storage requirements, environmental considerations, housekeeping, and risk management.

Each week of this course contains a narrative discussion of a topic in the form of Lessons. Lessons are must-reads. Lessons, along with readings from the two course books and the handouts, combined with your professional experiences, will provide you with a grounding in the week’s topic.

After completing this course, participants will understand principles and best practices of physical care and preservation of your museum collections including the following:

  • Know the major causes of deterioration for museum objects and how to use that information to enhance long-term preservation;
  • Know how to handle objects in the safest way;
  • Know how to examine and document the condition of objects in your collections;
  • Know how to display your collections in a way that prolongs their life;
  • Know how to store and house your collections in the way that best preserves them;
  • Understand the importance of environmental control for the preservation of your collections;
  • Know the best ways to clean your museum; and
  • Know how to perform a risk assessment of your museum and use it to write a disaster plan.

Course Logistics

FORMAT: Online, weekly-paced course.

LENGTH: 8 weeks

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Weekly forum discussions, assignments

MATERIALS: There are no required texts for this course. All materials will be provided.

CREDIT: Successful completion of this course will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro! certificate from AASLH.

Who Should Take This Course

This course is a beginning level course designed for professional staff and volunteers of historical organizations and libraries with historical collections who have little to no experience with conservation of collections. This course requires participants have access to museum collections to successfully complete this course, either as a staff member, volunteer, or intern.

Instructor

Samantha Forsko is a Preservation Specialist at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts.

Participant Feedback

Collections Management

An AASLH Online Course

Course Description

This eight week online class is about managing cultural collections and will cover collections policies, how to know what you have, what you need to know about your collections, how to know where everything in your collection is located, and making sure that someone gets some good out of your collection. Collections management is all of the activities related to the administration of collections including planning, development, care, conservation, documentation, and making those collections available to the public. You’ll learn why museums have so many pieces of paper for each object and what all those numbers on the paper and objects are about. You will figure out what to keep and possibly what to let go of and last but not least, who should do what with all those things.

This eight week course will introduce participants to the professional principles and practices in the management of museum collections. Topics will include collections development, registration and record keeping with an emphasis on the development of Collection Policies and Procedures and what it means to be intellectually and physically responsible for museum objects.

After completing this course, participants will understand principles and best practices of collections management, and will have completed the following:

  • Developed a detailed draft of a Collections Policy
  • Developed or identified a collection of objects
  • Developed a standardized set of registration records and forms: inventory, catalog, accession, loans
  • Learned about various registration numbering systems and how to mark objects appropriately
  • Discussed issues related to collecting strategies, mission, purpose and scope of collections
  • Developed a broader understanding of legal and ethical concerns of managing collections
  • Used computerized collection management software

Course Logistics

FORMAT: Online, weekly-paced course.

LENGTH: 8 weeks

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Weekly forum discussions, two real-time online chats (attendance required), assignments

MATERIALS: One required text, Two recommended texts

CREDIT: Successful completion of this course will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro!  certificate from AASLH

Who Should Take This Course

This course is a beginning level course designed for professional staff and volunteers of historical organizations and libraries with historical collections who have little to no experience with collections management. This course requires participants have access to museum collections to successfully complete this course, either as a staff member, volunteer, or intern.

Instructor

Dyani Feige, Director of Preservation Services at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA), works with libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural organizations to conduct needs assessments and risk assessments, assists in emergency preparedness, and helps develop policy and planning documents and long-term preservation plans. She also helps develop and present preservation-related educational programs, and has taught programs on archival management, policy development, and emergency preparedness. Before joining CCAHA, Feige worked for the Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives, the New York Public Library’s Preservation Division, the Conference Board, New York University’s Bobst Library, and Kent State University’s Special Collections & Archives.  She received her Master of Science in Library and Information Science with an Archives Certificate from Pratt Institute.

Texts Used

Required:

John E. Simmons, Things Great and Small: Collections Management Policies, Second Edition, Washington, DC: American Alliance of Museums, 2017 (Paperback ISBN 9781442277458). This text is NOT INCLUDED with your registration. Please order from the book seller of your choice.

Recommended:

Daniel B. Reibel. Registration Methods for the Small MuseumFourth Edition, Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2008 (Paperback ISBN 978-0-7591-1131-8) (About $32.00). This text is NOT INCLUDED with your registration. Please order from the book seller of your choice.

Rebecca A. Buck and Jean Allman Gilmore, MRM5 Museum Registration Methods, 5th Edition. Washington, DC: American Association of Museums, 2010. ISBN 978-0838911228. This text is NOT INCLUDED with your registration. Please order from the book seller of your choice.

Participant Feedback

Developing Exhibitions

A Two-Part AASLH Online Course

Course Description

This two-part class is about how to put together an exhibition, from deciding what it will be about and why, to gathering, creating and arranging all the elements for visitors.  You’ll learn a lot from your classmates – from their own experiences and from the resources that they share with all of us.  And you’ll learn the best way: by doing – you will develop an actual exhibit over the course of the class.

Both parts of this course must be taken in order to receive a certificate of completion and fulfill the requirements of the Small Museum Pro! series.

This class is about how to put together an exhibition, from deciding what it will be about and why, to gathering, creating and arranging all the elements for visitors.  You’ll learn a lot from your classmates – from their own experiences and from the resources that they share with all of us.  And you’ll learn the best way: by doing – you will develop an actual exhibit plan over the course of the class.

Each week you will be expected to:

  1. Study materials directly within the online class site;
  2. Find other resources on the web or in the community and share them with the class;
  3. Share your own knowledge, experience and resources with the class; and
  4. Complete one or more exhibit-development assignments and share your work with the class.

At the end of the class, you will:

  • Know how to develop, create and evaluate an exhibition – you will have developed a real exhibit;
  • Be familiar with other resources for more information; and
  • Have a network of small-museum professionals with whom to confer on future exhibits.

Course Logistics

FORMAT: Online, weekly-paced course

LENGTH: Two 8-week sessions

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Three scheduled real-time chats (one required); assignments

MATERIALS: One required text

CREDIT: Successful completion of this course will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro! certificate from AASLH.

Who Should Take This Course

This course is a beginning level course designed for professional staff and volunteers of historical organizations and libraries who have little to no experience with exhibit development and design.

Instructors

Alice Parman has spent a lifetime in museums. After earning a Ph.D. in Education (University of Chicago), Alice joined the education staff at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. There she worked to help teachers use the museum’s resources more effectively, then chaired the Department of Education from 1973–1978 (as the Field’s first woman manager). From 1978–1982 she was director of the University of Oregon Museum of Natural History; from 1982–1988 she served as director of WISTEC (now The Science Factory), also in Eugene. In 1989, Alice joined Formations Inc., a Portland-based exhibit design/build firm with a national clientele. After 14 years as Senior Planner/Writer for Formations, she launched her own consulting business in September 2003. She is co-author, with Ann Craig, Lyle Murphy, Liz White, and Lauren Willis, of Exhibit Makeovers: A Do-It-Yourself Workbook for Small Museums, Second Edition (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).

Ann Craig (BA, History and Asian Studies, 2000, University of Oregon; MA, Arts Management, Museum Studies, 2006, University of Oregon) is the Director of Public Programs at The Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon. Ann has been with the museum since 2005, where she oversees educational programming and exhibitions for all audiences. She is a board member with the Oregon Museum Association, chair of the Museums of Springfield and Eugene (MUSE) and a member of the Lane County Cultural Coalition.

Texts Used

Required:

Exhibit Makeovers, A Do-It-Yourself Workbook for Small Museums by Alice Parman, Ann Craig, Lyle Murphy, Liz White, and Lauren Willis (Second Edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). The text is NOT INCLUDED with your registration. You must order the book separately from the book seller of your choice.

Leadership and Administration for History Organizations

An AASLH Online Course

Course Description

History museum leadership is more complex and demanding than ever before, requiring updated and innovative ways to meet mission and keep organizations healthy. Thoughtful, intentional museum administration and leadership matters, regardless of the size or focus of your organization.

Administration and leadership matter, regardless the size or focus of your organization. This online course covers governance and administrative structure, nonprofit status, mission and vision, board and staff responsibilities, the relationship between board and staff, strategic planning, human resource management, and leadership.

During the nine weeks of this course, modules addressing governance and administrative structures, nonprofit status and the public trust, mission and vision, the relationship between board and staff, including their roles and responsibilities; strategic planning, human resource development and management, and leadership will be covered. The course includes a combination of topical reading assignments and related weekly assignments and online chats. A final course assignment is due the last week of class.

Participant Outcomes

After completing this course, participants will understand principles and best practices of Leadership and Administration including the following:

  • the public trust role and governance structure of most nonprofit museums;
  • the importance of museum mission, vision, change, and strategic planning;
  • the major administrative and leadership roles and responsibilities of the board and staff;
  • the key issues in human resource management, including building effective teams
  • why leadership matters at all levels;
  • charting your museum’s future and measuring effectiveness; and
  • where the museum field is heading in the future.

Sample Curriculum

Week 1: Course overview; an inside look at nonprofits, public trust and governance

Week 2: Museum Boards, Their Roles, Responsibilities, Expectations, and Their Relationship to Museum Staff

Week 3: The Importance of Museum Vision and Mission

Week 4:  Administrative and Management Responsibilities, Relationships, Structures, Systems and Networks

Week 5:  Human Resource Management – Building Effective Teams and Mentoring

Week 6:  Why Leadership Matters, At All Levels

Week 7:  Charting Your Museum’s Future and Measuring Effectiveness

Week 8:  Putting It All Together: Where the Field is Heading and How You Fit In

Course Logistics

FORMAT: Online, weekly-paced course

LENGTH: 8 weeks

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Weekly real-time telephone and online chats (schedule to be determined based on student availability); weekly assignments; final course assignment

MATERIALS: Two recommended texts

CREDIT: Successful completion of this course will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro! certificate from AASLH.

Who Should Take This Course

Successful participants will be individuals in institutional leadership positions at the staff, board, and volunteer levels (where volunteers supervise others), who have significant decision-making responsibilities and who have the ability to affect positive, substantive change within their organizations.  This course is not appropriate for students, interns, or volunteers who do not have managerial responsibilities. We recommend that only one person per institution take this course at a time. To read about a participant’s experience, take a look at this blog post by a Leadership and Administration student: Leadership Matters At Every Level.

Instructor

In a career spanning three decades, Anne Ackerson has served as director of several historic house museums and historical societies in central and eastern New York, the director of the Museum Association of New York, and now currently serves as the executive director of the national Council of State Archivists.

In 1997 Anne began an independent consulting practice focusing on organizational development issues for the smaller nonprofit cultural institution. She writes regularly about management and leadership issues for cultural institutions in her blog, Leading by Design. She is a frequent workshop/webinar presenter on issues of museum ethics, executive leadership, financial management, and board roles and responsibilities. In addition to teaching this course, she developed curriculum materials and a webinar on strategic planning for the American Association of State and Local History’s StEPS program, a national standards program for history museums.

Texts Used

Anne W. Ackerson and Joan Baldwin, Leadership Mattershttps://rowman.com/ISBN/9780759121850/Leadership-Matters

Hugh H. Genoways and Lynne M. Ireland (revised by Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko), Museum Administration 2.0, https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781442255524/Museum-Administration-2.0

Museum and Education Outreach

An AASLH Online Course

Course Description

At their heart, regardless of type or size, museums are engaging, dynamic places of education. This course is about how we can facilitate visitors’ meaningful and memorable experiences in the informal environments of museums.

This course requires regular check-ins, sharing and commenting on peer work, and participation in scheduled live chats. Various assignments are made throughout the course to allow for regular feedback and dialogue. While work can be done at your own pace, meeting deadlines is encouraged to maximize the experience.

At the end of this course you will be able to:

  • describe the characteristics and learning needs of various museum audiences
  • summarize what we know about learning in museums
  • assess the strengths and weaknesses of interpretive techniques and program approaches
  • utilize a system for planning, operating, and evaluating museum educational programs
  • access resources to assist you in future development of effective learning experiences

Possible topics include:

  • Week 1: Defining the Museum / Museums and Memory
  • Week 2: Interpretation Strengths, Weaknesses, and Best Practices
  • Week 3: Audiences and Identifying Your Key Ones
  • Week 4: Education Program Planning, Management, and Evaluation
  • Week 5: Organizing of Museum Education and Outreach
  • Week 6: Community Partners and Funding
  • Week 7: Leading Staff and Volunteers
  • Week 8: Action Plan for Future Programming at your Museum

Course Logistics

FORMAT: Online, weekly-paced course

LENGTH: 8 weeks

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Bi-weekly (every-other-week) real-time online chats; weekly assignments; final course assignment

MATERIALS: One required text

CREDIT: Successful completion of this course will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro! certificate from AASLH.

Who Should Take This Course

This course is a beginning level course designed for professional staff and volunteers of historical organizations and libraries with historical collections who have little to no experience with developing education programs and goals for museums.

Instructor

Tanya Brock is one who tends to take leaps and jumps rather than the straight path. Her career has spanned museum education, visitor services, exhibit planning, historical research, and community partner liaison. Whether teaching food preservation classes or designing and running the nation’s first functioning historical brewery or running a brewpub co-op, her passion has always been centered on food—its power to unite and act as a storyteller for communities.

Her education is a patchwork of cultural anthropology, food preservation, heritage interpretation, and museum administration. This background has built a foundation of various perspectives from which she draws from when designing programs. Over a 20-year period she has worked with audiences of all sizes, ages, and backgrounds yet believes at the end of the day, it is the guest who drives the conversation and the experience.

Texts Used

Required:

Anna Johnson, Kimberly A. Huber, Nancy Cutler, Melissa Bingmann and Tim Grove. The Museum Educator’s Manual: Educators Share Successful Techniques (2nd ed). The text is NOT INCLUDED with your registration. You must order the book separately from the book seller of your choice.

Registration

Visit the AASLH Resource Center to register for upcoming AASLH Online Courses.

Upcoming Online Courses