Partnering with Johns Hopkins University for Hands-On Learning


What better a way to learn something new than doing it first-hand? In January, Cuseum worked closely with Johns Hopkins University’s Museum Studies Graduate Program to embark on hands-on learning collaboration. One of their core projects focused on producing mobile content and thematic tours for visitors to the San Diego Museum of Man. Students completed the program with not only deeper knowledge of new digital tools for engagement, but also tangible proof-of-concept: a mobile app in hand.

Joining us for a guest post: Cindy Spiva-Evans, Adjunct Faculty, Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University!

Toss 20 graduate students who have never met into a small education center in a small museum in San Diego. Add pouring rain and head-colds. Give them one CMS, very little direction, and two weeks to see what happens, and you have the gist of Johns Hopkins University’s 2017 Onsite Seminar in San Diego this January.


Each winter, a small group of graduate students from JHU’s Museum Studies graduate program descend on San Diego for two weeks of immersive learning, capped off with one spectacular project that reflects their two weeks in San Diego’s Balboa Park, which is home to 17 museums and cultural centers. This year’s cohort was tasked with creating a prototype app for the San Diego Museum of Man using Cuseum’s museum engagement platform.

As a teacher tasked with finding a platform that was incredibly easy to use, Cuseum fit the bill. I knew that my students’ time would be incredibly limited; they ended up with just over four days total to create the app and all of the content for it. Because of Cuseum’s intuitive design, they were able to hit the ground running once they established a plan of attack and created a really stunning, highly functional prototype. Cuseum also provided in real-time assistance to the students as questions arose.

“They were incredibly impressed with the possibilities available to them, and were a little disappointed, I must say, that they didn’t have more time to explore more deeply.”

They could have utilized image recognition, key numbers for accessing content, and many others features that were at their disposal.

The main content included in the app was a handful of tours, focused on different emotions or feelings the museum’s visitors might be experiencing when they walk through the door. “Curious,” “Pressed for Time”, “Social”, and “Needing to Recharge” were a few that the students focused on. One group created voiceovers of text for visually impaired guests. Another created layered content so that visitors could read quickly and move on or dig a little more deeply into a subject that intrigued them. A third encouraged social engagement through the app’s links to social media.

The students also set up a few beacon-triggered notifications, sharing preview information on an upcoming exhibit, directions to the restrooms and gift shop, and even a time-delayed ping to the visitor designed to pop-up when they had been in the museum for 30 minutes, asking “Aren’t you having a great time? Would you like to donate $5 to the Museum?”

Even though their time in San Diego is over, and the course has finished, several of the students have chosen to continue development of the prototype app.

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