Jeannine Worthing, Visitor Experience and Programming Coordinator
Restrictions on in-person interactions since March 2020 have resulted in a paradigm shift for many GLAM institutions (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). Public programming has generally been built around the idea that interaction with the public will be in-person – chatting with a visitor, showing off pieces from your collection in an exhibition, or welcoming a teacher and their class into your space.
Pivoting existing programming to an online or virtual format was a challenge for many GLAM institutions, including Point Ellice House. Our efforts to bring stories from our feature exhibit online manifested in the creation of our YouTube channel in spring 2020. The process of creating digital content, such as our videos, presented a learning curve – as a team we had to figure out how to translate the stories we tell to new formats. We learned how to write and record compelling scripts, film video and visually sequence historic photographs, and synthesize it all together in an appealing way for the public. We also had to determine what kind of content would be best for us to put out amongst a sea of virtual webinars, programming, and videos from just about every other content creator on the web. Despite any growing pains we encountered throughout this learning process, the videos we have created so far will be available to viewers long after we are able to fully re-open our doors to the public.
In one area we did have the advantage of a blank slate for the creation of digital content: the development of educational resources. In a blog post from last summer, I briefly mentioned these efforts; truly, the process of creating educational content is a slow and deliberate one. In order to create content that resonates with the students we want to reach, it was important for us to relate the stories of Point Ellice House to the curriculum they are currently learning. After making the connection between a story of Point Ellice House and the BC Social Studies Curriculum, we needed to research and flesh out that story with context and details. Next, we crafted activities designed to help students relate the story we are telling about the past to their own lives, which allows them to understand how things have changed over time. The creation of our Point Ellice House history guide for educators accompanied this process, and this resource is intended to help those delivering our programs become familiar with Point Ellice House as a historic place. After a long process of fine-tuning and reviewing materials, we have finally been able to make these new educational resources available through our website, recently reconfigured to include a “TEACH” menu for educators.
We currently have two available programs suitable for students up to Grade 5. One program is focused on waste and water, and the other on food production and preparation. Both use the history of Point Ellice House to frame these concepts for students. They are designed to be delivered by an educator directly to their students, but once we are able to offer on-site visits once again, staff at Point Ellice House can also deliver these programs as a field trip instead.
We wanted to ensure that these newly created resources were accessible, not only to teachers in classrooms, but also to the vast array of educators that are teaching their students from home. Accordingly, there are no costs associated with the use of these programs, in fact the associated worksheets and media components are all freely available to download through our Educational Programs page. However, we do encourage anyone who makes use of our resources to donate if they can, in order to support us in creating more freely available educational content in the future.
If you are an educator, we would also love to hear your feedback about how our programs worked for you and your students. Your feedback can be sent anytime to: Jeannine@PointElliceHouse.com.