It should be no surprise to readers of this blog that most museums partner with schools to complement classroom learning and teaching. Based on a survey by the Center for Informal Learning and Schools
Less appreciated is the role that informal learning institutions might play in transforming K-12 education as currently practiced. Most museum practitioners take it for granted that learning can be fostered through exhibits and programs. Recently, that assertion has been supported by a major research synthesis carried out by the National Research Council, Learning Science in Informal Environments
I have argued
In terms of K-12 education, the potential impact of informal learning can be more fully realized not just by enhancing classroom teaching and learning, but by helping to transform it. Additional key influences are mobile technologies that enable learning any time, any place and the growing base of knowledge from the learning sciences and educational research. The challenge, of course, is developing strategies that take advantage of the most effective practices in ways that can be implemented and evaluated. One opportunity to obtain funding, at least for those museums involved in informal science education, is the new Transforming STEM Learning program at NSF
I would encourage museums of all kinds to explore ways to not only enhance classroom learning and teaching, but to work with schools, learning scientists, technology experts, libraries, and additional community partners to create innovative approaches that draw from both formal and informal learning. Certainly, museum-schools and virtual schools offer potential platforms, but other formats may be possible as well. In this way, museums can become key players in the national efforts towards education reform, one of the few areas of potential bipartisan cooperation expected in the 112th Congress.