How Museums and Foundations Deliver Outstanding Teacher Training
March 25, 2022

Teacher online teaching.

Outside of the K-12 school system, museums play a vital role in the educational system. An opportunity for museums to directly impact teacher development involves curating digitalized upskilling content to close critical digital gaps in the teaching profession. Creating a partnership can enable museums to better offer teacher development. These educated teachers can then offer advanced exposure to museums and education that many students wouldn't be able to access otherwise. 

1. Leverage Museum Educational Staff to Bring Teaching Upskills to an Online Platform 

Museums spend approximately $2 billion on educational programs each year, with 35,000 museums in the United States as the melting pots of cultural, socioeconomic, art, history, societal, and innovation [1]. Patrons today fully expect to have a digital component to every engagement, including museums. Teachers can engage with museums that utilize platforms to engage teachers while closing the digital divide in teaching [2]. Digitalized upskilling and professional development for teachers is more important now than before. Out of 1,900 educators surveyed [3]: 

  • 34% of teachers had little confidence using technology during the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • 13% of teachers never experienced using various educational technology platforms 
  • 39% of self-reported "power users" are "confident" in their skills 

2. Teachers Caught in a Digital Chasm 

Since 2020, the education sector has noticed a deep need for continued teacher upskilling, mainly focusing on closing the digital skill gap for educators, with approximately 66,000 public elementary schools in the US, museums staffed with over 300,000 in the workforce to ease the educational crisis [1]. Teachers who served 20 or more years in education have the most advantage in utilizing digital tools, showing a massive gap in skills for younger and less experienced teachers [4]. Globally, upskilling teachers is crucial as education grows more digitized. Partnerships focused on teacher development through museum education can promote sustainable responses to the digital demands of the future in education [5]. Beyond public schools, museums represent educational frameworks that provide support, training, and backing to educators [1]. Only 74% of school district leaders state that professional development takes place on in-service days, roughly 1 in 2 teachers complete training at home without pay, and only 30% of districts use a fully digitalized development program [6]. 

3. Building Digital Learning Ecosystems Includes SaaS Partnerships 

Building and branding digitalized learning ecosystems require partnerships that reduce workload and provide a rapid ROI. Utilizing a SaaS (Software as a Service) model reduces the workload on museums that already have experienced a decline in staffing. Since COVID-19, 58% of museums laid-off part-time, full-time, or other staff [7]. With 76% of museums reporting a 40% decline in income since 2020, museums need to partner with third-party providers to bridge the digital upskilling gap required to create and develop more teachers to work in 21st-century classrooms [8]. SaaS models provide accessibility with 24/7 access, reduce expenses with pay-as-you-go models, and scalability to meet the mission and organizational needs [9]. Trends continue to favor partnering with SaaS models, with 93% of CIOs planning to adopt cloud SaaS and 36% of organizations reporting a reduction of technology support burden when partnering with SaaS [10]. Conner Prairie has successfully implemented a SaaS partnership that created a customized Learning Community Environment®, delivering a scalable platform for multiple communities.  

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