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By Herman Eberhardt, Supervisory Museum Curator

The Roosevelt Library’s new 12,000 square foot $6 million permanent exhibition, which opened to the public in June 2013, features a variety of audiovisual experiences, including an array of interactive touchscreen programs. They help us tell the vital story of the Roosevelt era to new generations of Americans in fresh and engaging ways. These exhibits are just one part of a wider ongoing effort at the Library to harness new media technologies to reach new audiences.

Later this year, the Museum will unveil two new media initiatives that will greatly expand accessibility to our exhibits.

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We are currently working with Audio Description Associates of Takoma Park, Maryland, on an Audio Description Tour of the new permanent exhibition for blind and vision-impaired visitors. The tour will be free to the public and available in both and English and Spanish language versions. Museum visitors will be able to download the audio tour to their own handheld devices or access it on one of the free hand-held media players that will be available for loan at the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center. The tour will also be accessible to online visitors on the Library’s web site.

Another exciting new media program in development is an online, interactive Virtual Tour of the permanent exhibition. Funded by a grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation, this tour will allow users from all over the world to experience our Museum and access additional educational materials. This project supports the Foundation’s goal of providing access to resources that contribute to the development of a civil society.

The virtual tour will employ high definition panoramic photography to give off-site users the experience of walking through the Museum. A zoom function will let users move around the galleries and select and learn more about specific artifacts, documents, photographs, and graphics. The Museum is working with the Dynology Corporation of Vienna, Virginia, on the development of the tour. Dynology is on the cutting edge of this new media tool. In recent years, a growing number of museums have begun to offer virtual tours. But most of these projects have involved art museums. History museums have been slower to embrace this new technology. Recently, Dynology broke new ground in the use of virtual tours in history museums with their innovative virtual tour of the United States Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia. Now they are working with us to expand on that model and create an even deeper and richer virtual experience.

Katherine Sardino, our multi-talented Museum Technician, is leading the Museum’s team on both of these innovative projects, which blend technology with history to advance the Library’s goal of presenting “A New Deal for a New Generation.” Keep watching our website and social media for updates on the rollout of these projects later this year.

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by Jeff Urbin, Education Specialist

01.08.2014 Senior Learning Franklin Roosevelt held the first of his famous “fireside chats” just days into his presidency thereby demonstrating his understanding of the importance of bringing accurate and unfiltered information directly from the source to the people. Today, with the help of quickly evolving technology, that tradition is being continued and expanded thru the Roosevelt Library’s Education Department’s distance learning program.

Whether you call it a virtual field trip, distance learning, or video conferencing, the ability to bring real-time, interactive learning and information into the classroom via technology is a modern educational miracle. Over the last three years the Roosevelt Presidential Library’s education department has provided dozens of distance learning sessions to thousands of students all across the United States, and as far away as Australia!

Classroom students are not the only learners who benefit from distance learning. The Roosevelt Library has been a pioneer in providing distance learning sessions to residents of adult and assisted living facilities. These folks are members of the Roosevelt demographic who, due to distance and/or mobility issues, are not able to visit the Library in person. Many of them have first-hand memories of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt from their childhood, or can remember their parents talking about them. The interactive nature of the video conference format allows residents to share their stories with the presenter which makes for a far richer session for everyone.

Advances in video conferencing technology have made it possible to bring information about the Roosevelts, the Great Depression and World War II to outside venues in an educational, interactive, and economical format.  Just as FDR did with his Fireside Chats, we are bringing the information to the people; people of all ages and different situations.  We think FDR would be amazed by the technology and very pleased with the results.

If you would like more information about distance learning programs, or would be interested in booking a session, contact me at jeffrey.urbin@nara.edu.

Distance Learning 2014

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