C o m m o n w e a l t h
A s s o c i a t i o n o f
M u s e u m s
CAM Bulletin Number 4 - May, 1998
Working Group Recommends 2-Stage Revision for Distance Learning Programme
The Working Group on CAM's Distance Learning programme recommended that revision take place in two Phases in order to maintain continuity and avoid interrupting the programme. Evaluation indicated the programme has been largely successful to date in introducting museum workers from around the Commonwealth to museum studies. At the same time, there were several areas that could be improved and updated.
The first phase would be to make some changes and additions, primarily by adding new readings and introducing the new text, and inserting minor textual additions and changes. A few improvements in activities and assignments should also stimulate more local application of the basic principles.
The second stage would involve more extensive restructuring and complete rewriting of the program. Much more though would be given to ensuring a balanced combination of general international principles and standards, relevant examples from around the Commonwealth and specific local applications to improve the participant's own situation.
These recommendations have gone to the CAM Council for approval and on the date of writing indications are that they will be accepted. Implementation will be planned over the next year and a half.
As previously reported the review meeting took place with 7 participants: Emmanuel Arinze, Allissandra Cummins, Dianna Thompson and Lois Irvine from CAM, Dr. Peter Kinyanjui from The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Catherine antomarchi, ICCROM-PREMA and Mubiana Luhila (also CAM member), supported by PREMA.
The objectives for the meeting and the principal reasons for undertaking the review were outlined. The principal reasons for undertaking the meeting were the changes that have taken place in the museum field since the programme began and the increased amount of new literature available, especially from diverse parts of the Commonwealth, which can be used to make the material more relevant to all students.
The meeting addressed the background of the CAM Distance Learning Program and its history, results to date, evaluations, and the observations arising from the administration of the course.
Dr. Peter Kinyanjui of COL spoke on "Trends in Open Learning and Distance Education" informing the group about The Commonwealth of Learning and providing a helpful commentary on the characteristics of distance education, its advantages and disadvantages and how it fits in well with the current global educational system. Distance learning can be especially useful for specific circumstances ncluding low cost to student and ease of use and customizing education to the local situation. At the same time it is costly in its development and still requires very careful structuring and delivery to ensure correct and effective communication. He also outlined "Good Practices in Distance Education" which will be useful guidelines to CAM in conducting its course revisions.
The group reviewed the complete CAM course commenting on and discussing the units, what should be included, what restructuring might be necessary and new readings which might be included. It was agreed that "Museum Basics", by Ambrose and Paine, would be useful as the main text. Methods and techniques for making the course more interesting and more relevant to the student's individual situation were considered providing strong recommendations to guide course writers. More work will be required to define the course purpose, general philosophy, overall objectives, and performance targets to provide the framework for unit writers to develop course modules.
The objectives of the meeting: to determine the nature of course revisions; to consider the overall development of the programme and its enhancement and recognition; and, to prepare plans for implementation, were met.
The schedule for the revisions is mid-1998 for the first stage and late 1999 to complete the major revision assuming funds are available. CAM will continue to work with its long-time partner, the Canadian Museums Association and other international organizations, especially COL and PREMA, to achieve its plan and appreciates very much the contributions made to bring the programme development to its current level.