November 2021 SIG Corner: Educational and Interpretive Media

By MCN Educational and Interpretive Media SIG Chairs Kajva Armstrong, they/them/theirs, Former Visitor Experience Associate, Boston Children’s Museum, Educational and Interpretive Media SIG chair, (@egyptcraze); and Chelsea Shannon, she/her/hers, Interpretation Manager at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and co-chair, Educational and Interpretive Media SIG, (@chelchelchelseas)

Photo of a museum visitor listening to audio content.

For educational and interpretive media planners and producers, along with many others in the cultural sector, 2021 has been a year of constantly shifting priorities, plans, and concerns. As SIG chairs, we knew that we wanted to create space for our members to come together and help each other navigate this moment. 

So, just after the 2020 MCN conference, we launched a SIG member survey to better understand what our members needed from the SIG: was it space to discuss professional challenges? Opportunities to grow skills and knowledge areas? Or was it enough just to meet and connect with others in the field? The answer was in the nexus of all of these ideas, so we worked on a meeting strategy for 2021 to strike a balance – here’s an overview:

  • The intersection of racial justice and our work: In 2020, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and as many cultural organizations professed to take steps to address racial justice, the SIG hosted several conversations about how we as educational media producers can advance this work. We are working towards hosting further conversations on this vitally important dimension of our work soon.
  • Intellectual property + fair use best practices: as content producers, we often work with assets held under copyright and have questions about what constitutes fair use in our work. To explore these issues and connect with members of another SIG, we hosted a joint meeting with the Intellectual Property SIG. Both of our SIGs’ members were able to share professional challenges and questions and get ideas and guidance from a larger group of professionals than usual. We hope to schedule more joint SIG meetings in the coming year. 
  • Accessibility and evaluation: leading up to the 2021 conference, we met to discuss proposals, including the SIG’s Roundtable discussion. Resoundingly, our members told us they are concerned with ensuring that digital content and experiences are accessible. As a group, we’ve learned many lessons about digital accessibility, often the hard way, as many of us expanded our digital work into new areas to meet audiences online during the pandemic. Our SIG Roundtable, held on Oct 14 during the 2021 conference, was a space to come together and share ideas and resources around digital accessibility and how we evaluate if our accessibility measures are working for our audiences.

2021 has continued to throw us all curveballs and we haven’t scheduled nearly as many conversations and meetings as we would have liked, but we’re looking forward to carrying this strategy forward into 2022. We’re working to find a rhythm for these gatherings that enables our members to feel supported and connected and we hope you’ll join us for upcoming conversations. 

The best way to stay in the loop is to join our SIG and make sure you have post notifications turned on. We post about upcoming meetings on the SIG message board, and we hope to see you there. We also just started a Slack channel, #sig-educational-interpretive-media—see you there!

Interested in joining a SIG? 

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