No more paper

Finding an appy solution

I have something I need help with…

The Whitlam Institute have recently expanded our education program to offer onsite programs in our education space and museum, however we are currently tied to a very paper based model, with students being handed paper based ‘source packs’ for indepth studies and then completing a worksheet in the museum. Our desire is to remove these paper based activities and find engaging, collaborative, responsive digital solution instead. We need help discovering app based solutions for this; apps that are already on the marketplace, that don’t require us engaging someone to create something for us. We know there will be something out there that does most of the things we want, we just haven’t found it yet.

The talk will briefly cover what we currently do, then focus on what we want to achieve with a digital solution, asking the audience to suggest apps they have used or know about that might work for us to explore.

Presented by Bronwyn CoulstonWhitlam institute.




My name is Bronwyn and I’m from the Whitlam Institute at the University of Western Sydney in the old Female Orphan School. My Twitter handle, @alcornb79, you’ll find me there occasionally when I remember to log on. Today, I’m going to be talking about education and learning and particularly digital in education and learning.

But there’s hopefully a little bit of audience and evaluation out of this as well. So I left that one on there. I’m here because I need your help I hope some of you have some grand ideas for me. Call it finding an appy solution. So the Whitlam Institute is a fairly old institute in that it’s been around for over 10 years now.

But our museum and education programme is very new. We moved into the female orphan school at the University of Western Sydney just over 12 months ago. Opened a lovely museum using some of the amazing objects in the archive there and developed this fantastic education space attached to the museum.
So we’ve run education programmes now for years– well, for stages three to six, mainly focusing on history, obviously. But also we do some stuff about legal studies, political science, commerce, we touch on a whole lot of other things. I’m the education outreach officer and I’m it.

I don’t have a team, I don’t have any help. So we take up to 50 students in a group and I manage all of those 50 kids at once in a fairly small education space and a very small museum. So I’m looking for digital assistance, really. So the thing I’m really after is some help in finding solutions for getting rid of our paper.

We have– one of the things we do with all of our kids is that we give them source packs, or policy packs. It’s a really lovely thing where the students get to work in groups, they study primary source material, mainly from our collection, but we also grab items and images from a whole lot of other collections around Australia. We get the kids to have a look, really understand the ideas of primary source material, looking through photos, documents, newspaper articles.

They’re doing the group work. They’re just getting the idea of exploring different primary source activity. They answer a few questions. And then we come back as a group and they discuss it all. But it’s really disengaging. Those kids who are interested sit down and really look through these packs.
But those kids from whom– they’ve spent an hour in an education space and they’re not terribly worried about Whitlam, they scribble over them, they throw them around, they just kick back. They do nothing. They just don’t want to be involved at all. So we do that with them.

And then we take them into the museum and they get handed a worksheet. I hate it. I really do. It’s certainly not my choice to do it, but it’s something I inherited. And I haven’t found the right digital solution to replace it

The museum is incredibly frustrating to work in. It’s really small. It’s really dark. It’s a whole lot of showcases with paper based objects in them. I can’t actually take a group of 50 in and talk to them about objects. I can’t engage with all 50 kids in that museum at once. There’s not space to have them all in the one place.

So I want something digital. I want to get them engaged. I want to give them something that’s far more responsive and enthusiastic. I want to see them actually spark with interest. What I want is no more paper. So we need an appy solution. As I said, I want something sociable.

I want– they would still be doing group work. But I want an app that replaces these policy packs and these worksheets where the kids are actually talking to each other online, offline, in the classroom, back at home, to me. They’re using the app to really generate an interesting experience.

I want it to be responsive. The worksheet is OK. But if it’s on an app and they’re getting prizes and points instantly they get an answer correct. Well, how much more engaged are they going to be if they’ve got some sort of instant response mechanism rather than just coming back and me throwing lollies at them if they do get a correct response 10 minutes later?

I want it to be something that we can use on and off site. I want to know if these kids are actually engaging with our content in their classroom, if the teachers are using some of the stuff. I want to be able to take further discussions with them, actually have conversations with them online once they’re away from the museum.

And I want it to be something that gets them to engage with our collection. We’ve got an archive of over 30,000 objects, the majority of which are digitised. But nobody knows about this amazing digital collection of Whitlam paraphernalia. So I want an app that can push them back into that.

What I want? More kids smiling, less kids sitting around, looking through paper. Because it bores me and it bores them. So can you help? Do you know an app or a series of apps that might work for me? Something low cost, something that I can pull off the shelf and work with? Something that doesn’t require massive digital engagement.



The Whitlam Institute


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