As we prepare for the 2017 Annual Meeting in Austin, the Educators and Interpreters Affinity Group Committee is trying an experiment. We’re giving presenters who are chairing sessions with education and interpretation themes a chance to give readers a little more information about them – a teaser, if you will. We’ll share two to three sessions each week. We hope this will be helpful to prospective conference attendees and presenters alike. Please share your thoughts and comments with us!

(If you haven’t heard from us and you’d like to share a post on your workshop or session, drop a line to Sarah Jencks at


Workshop: Community Engagement through User Experience
Wednesday, September 6, 8:30 am–12pm
Chair: Mike Tedeschi, Owner and Creative Director, Interactive Mechanics, Philadelphia, PA
This half-day workshop requires pre-registration.

How do you know if your target audience is having a good or bad experience? How do you gather their input and engage audiences effectively? Learn to put yourself in your users’ shoes in order to better understand their motivations so that you can create welcoming experiences and make something that is useful, easy to use, and enjoyable. Exhibit designers and developers, curators, content developers, museum technologists, and marketers can all benefit from this workshop on Community Engagement through User Experience (UX). You don’t need to be an expert to attend—we’ll cover the fundamentals of user experience, why it matters, and ways to convince others in your organization to invest. We’ll detail a typical UX journey and common methodologies that are useful for museum professionals, emphasizing ways to engage new and existing communities along the way.

The workshop will be led by Mike Tedeschi, Creative Director of Interactive Mechanics, an award-winning interactive design firm that builds digital projects and leads workshops for arts, culture, and educational institutions, including Eastern State Penitentiary, Ford’s Theatre, and the Smithsonian Institution. Mike has over a decade of industry experience designing user-centered experiences, having worked on over 125 digital projects throughout his career.


Session: What Role Should Historic Sites Play in Teacher Professional Development?
Thursday, September 7, 11 am-12:15 pm (note: new start time)
Chair: Sarah Jencks, Director of Education and Interpretation, Ford’s Theatre Society

Historic sites and history museums have long targeted teachers as a primary audience because they are multipliers in terms of increasing field trip visitation and use of resources. Over the last 10 – 20 years, many history sites, museums and societies have taken on teacher professional development as a major element of their education work, including summer institutes, day-long sessions, and partnerships with schools and school districts. However, this work often raises as many questions as it answers: What does success look like? How do you define impact on teachers – and on their students? How do you make decisions about continuing, deepening, and expanding your work? In partnership with researchers at Columbia University Teachers’ College and The George Washington University, educators at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and Ford’s Theatre Society have spent the last two years trying to find some answers to these questions. We will discuss the importance of balancing content and skills/pedagogy in program development, as well as what teachers are looking for when they choose to work with us.

In a session originally intended to be a Current Issues Forum, but now structured a bit more traditionally, representatives from Ford’s Theatre, Monticello, Teachers’ College, and GWU will share what they have learned and invite others to engage in this inquiry process and together imagine where we as a field can go from here. Whether you are considering offering teacher PD or offer your own week-long institutes, please join us to think together about how we can improve history teaching around the country.


Check out other sessions and workshops listed in our Annual Meeting Program Guide!