National Museum launches digital classroom for school students

Ian Bushnell 26 October 2020
Women wearing masks in 1919.

Hot topic: Masks were also needed in 1919 when the influenza pandemic reached Australia. Photo: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

A pioneering digital education initiative will draw on the vast resources of the National Museum of Australia to take Australian history into classrooms in Canberra and around the country.

The museum, in partnership with Gandel Philanthropy, has launched its free Australia’s Defining Moments Digital Classroom (ADMDC), an innovative teaching and learning website that offers rich resources for teachers and students of Australian history, geography, civics and citizenship.

The ADMDC says that in a year which has highlighted the value of online learning for students forced to study from home due to COVID-19, the initiative is a resource for its time that brings Australian history alive in the digital age and elevates the exploration of our national story in the classroom.

Primary and secondary students can explore Australian history via interactive online games and quizzes, animations, videos and virtual tours, plus teaching and learning activities, delivered to schools via a range of digital devices.

They will also be able to take a virtual tour of the museum’s Australia’s Landmarks gallery in 3D.

An engaging, interactive timeline of Australian history, the ADMDC will include more than 120 defining-moment stories with embedded questions, critical thinking activities and research tasks, and flexible, ready-to-use learning modules and activities that address key topics in the Australian Curriculum.

More than 100 videos, including more than 50 archival film clips from the National Film and Sound Archive, are available, as well as a library of more than 1000 images, including historical photographs, artworks and maps.

The ADMDC draws on the National Museum of Australia’s highly respected Defining Moments in Australian History project, and was made possible by the generous $1.5 million donation by John and Pauline Gandel in 2018 to support the initiative.

National Museum of Australia director Dr Mathew Trinca said the ADMDC is the classroom of the future.

“It will empower teachers with information at their fingertips and inspire young people to embrace history and engage with the nation’s story in new and innovative ways,” he said.

Mathew Trinca.

National Museum of Australia director Mathew Trinca. Photo: Supplied.

ADMDC program manager David Arnold said learning through direct experience and play is a key element of the digital initiative.

”Students will develop research skills, begin to understand the significance of defining moments in history, and have the opportunity to reflect upon their knowledge,” he said.

“The main aim of interactives is to encourage students to investigate and record what they consider to be defining moments in Australian history through the National Museum of Australia’s landmarks gallery, their own life and their family’s history, and the history of their local community.”

ADMDC schools and engagement manager Marissa Beard said teachers and students will be able to find all they need in the digital classroom.

“This is an excellent one-stop shop for all areas of history content when students need reliable and trustworthy sources,” she said.

National Film and Sound Archive chief engagement officer Matt Ravier said the titles selected from its collection captured key events in Australian history.

“This footage brings to vivid life the moments that shaped us as a nation, empowering students to engage with our living memory and discover how history can inform their role as active citizens and builders of Australia’s future,” he said.

Popular historian David Hunt has produced eight animated defining moments which will be used extensively on the ADMDC site to further engage students.

Mr and Mrs Gandel said they are proud to have collaborated with the National Museum of Australia on this flagship grant.

”Much of our giving through Gandel Philanthropy is about providing opportunity for children across Australia and helping them reach their potential,” they said. “We believe this is something that will be realised through the ADMDC.”


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