National Museum of Australia build a digital classroom


Friday, May 8, 2020

In late July the National Museum of Australia will launch its new website. The website is a digital classroom showcasing Australia’s Defining Moments. This is NMA's biggest online education project. The Gandel Philanthropy Society and the NMA provided two million dollars towards the project. Funding will cover a teaching and learning outreach program.

The NMA IT team researched website platforms to host their website before selecting GovCMS to host their Drupal 8 site. For the team it seemed like a logical choice. An Australian history website on an Australian Government platform.

The genesis of the digital classroom is the NMA website, ‘Defining Moments in Australian History’. The original NMA website focuses on the 100 most significant events in Australian history. These events were selected by a small group of historians and museum experts. The NMA invited the public to make further suggestions. There are now over 400 defining moments. With almost 200 feature narratives housed on Defining Moments in Australian History.

While the new schools website is a NMA resource, Australia’s Defining Moments digital classroom will be a standalone site. Designed as a history resource for primary and secondary schools. With curriculum based content and interactive resources for teachers, parents and students.

It will include teaching and learning modules with teaching instructions. As well as games, videos, activities, quizzes and interactive modules. The digital classroom will house over 1000 images.

Building the digital classroom involved the help of other cultural institutions. This included the National Film and Sound Archive which provided 50 original black and white film clips. Through watching the clips, young people will be able to relive some of Australia's defining moments. For example, the day that Phar Lap won the Melbourne Cup in 1930.

In 2021 the NMA plan to launch a national outreach competition for secondary schools. Students will be asked to develop a digital resource focusing on defining moments in their local areas. These resources will be included in the digital classroom for the benefit of all Australians.

The concept of a digital classroom may one day feature as another defining moment in Australian history. Only the future will tell.