Online Course: Museum Education and Outreach

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

COURSE DATES: October 8 - December 3, 2018

COST: $195 AASLH Members / $295 Nonmembers

OPEN REGISTRATION: August 8 - September 28, 2018; 30 Person Limit

Register Here

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.

Description & Outcomes

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

Sample Curriculum

  • 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

Texts Used


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.

Who Should Attend this Online 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.

Register Here  


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.


Take Two and Call Me in the Morning: A Glimpse at Life in Field Services

This post was originally published on Backstage Pass to North Dakota History and is reposted here with the author's permission.

I am often called upon with strange and unusual questions. How do I make a mannequin look less scary? What is the white powder covering the taxidermied elk? How do I get a raccoon out from under a historic house? These are all actual museum problems; however, it is generally easier to deal with the mannequin than the raccoon. So how is it that I get so many odd phone calls?


My job here at the State Historical Society of North Dakota is to provide outreach services. I work with museums throughout the state to identify professional training opportunities. I can work with individuals one-on-one, or hold a workshop or training seminar for a group of people. I also help museums in our region stay on top of industry trends, standards, and best practices. I field questions about the basics of running a museum, and I work with museums to analyze their basic health and diagnose underlying problems. Essentially, if you compare what I do to the medical field, I’m a general practitioner. I know a little bit about a lot of things.

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In North Dakota, a lot of museums are staffed by dedicated volunteers with little professional training. My job is to help these museum laypeople access the same resources the experienced professionals know about. They call me for a general diagnosis of a problem they are having, and just like a doctor, I help them assess their overall health and analyze some potential problems. It often happens though, that a museum has a unique issue that needs further consultation. In cases like this, I recommend them to a specialist who works with that specific issue more than I do. Just like a doctor will recommend that someone with diabetes see an endocrinologist, I will recommend a consultation with an architectural historian to learn more about appropriate roofing materials for a historic house. While a doctor might have someone with headaches see a neurologist, I will direct someone with questions about digitizing a photo collection to an archivist. A doctor might recommend a pediatrician to a new mom, and I will recommend someone call a professional conservator to help stabilize the historic textiles in their collection. You get the picture.


On a national level the museum community is relatively small compared to other industries, and specialists are often surprisingly accessible if you know who they are and what they do. My office serves as a sort of clearing house, providing access to the wider range of museum field services. There are professionals all over the country who are available to North Dakota museums through the existing networks of professionals, specialists, and other consultants. While I can’t answer every question that comes my way, I usually have an idea of who we can call for more help. I don’t have an answer for every question. I still don’t know why Eleven likes waffles so much, or who Jon Snow’s father is, but trust me—I’m diligently working on the answers.