Collaborative Explorations to improve the learning that museums try to foster?

It has occurred to me that Collaborative Explorations offer a model (i.e., something to be adopted and adapted) for improving the learning that museums try to stimulate through their exhibitions.  This thought came as I noted how underwhelmed I am by the efforts of science museums, even ones like the Exploratorium,  to engage visitors.   Even when I have fun with the interactive exhibits or enjoy the spectator ones I rarely emerge from the museum with a thread that I can build on and end up with knowledge and understanding that feels creative to have arrived at.
The CE model (adapted from allows us to to experiment with ways to address the needs of learners who want to:
a) dig deeper, make “thicker” connections with other learners;
b) connect topics with their own interests;
c) participate for shorter periods than a course in a classroom (or MOOC); and
d) learn without needing degree or other credits for completion of a course.

I think we could do something interesting in this spirit with a group of 6 at a museum (with access to the internet) in say, 90 minutes.  (After all, even at the Louvre or the Uffizi, one’s eyes/brains don’t take in much after an hour.)  I haven’t worked out the details, but the thought seemed worth sharing.
(None of this speaks to the museum’s collection side, which I do appreciate.)


About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012,

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