screenshot of student project

Glenn Wharton – Project-based Learning in Museum Studies


Professor Glenn Wharton (Museum Studies) leverages project-based learning in his Museums and Community course. As a final research assignment, students work individually or in small groups to design fictional community programs for museums and cultural heritage institutions. Students create websites containing information about their programming. In addition to demonstrating content knowledge, students gain experience in website design and development.

Learning objectives

  • Increase student engagement through use of real-world scenarios
  • Leverage students’ existing knowledge
  • Develop students’ basic web design and production skills

Student experience

  • Students conduct research individually or in small groups to design a community-based, participatory program for a museum or cultural heritage institution
  • Students design and produce a website to display program information, including the aims of the program, activities, funding, etc.
  • Students peer review one another’s websites

Project workflow

In order to introduce students to web publishing technology that may be unfamiliar to them, Professor Wharton and an educational technologist collaborated on an in-class session on the basics of web design and building a website. The ed tech office also provided instructional materials and resources, as well as one-on-one consultations for students with follow-up questions. Whenever technology is used in a course innovation, we work with faculty to develop a support model that puts course content and knowledge building first.

Technology resources


  • Students gain media literacy, website design and creation skills.
  • Students are better prepared for field where collaboration is an essential component.
  • Students are deeply engaged by real-world scenarios.
  • Students are agents of their own learning.

In the following video, Professor Wharton describes the benefits and challenges of incorporating project-based learning in a traditional humanities seminar. In particular, he notes the transformative potential of technology to move his teaching from a “top-down model” into a true “co-production of knowledge.”

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