Museum Education and MOOCs

Digital is booming now: social, work and cultural life is happening online. So is education. Why not combine all of them and use the additional time we are spending at home to participate in a MOOC (massive open online course)? There are several courses available on museum, art, culture and even museum education. We tested one for you.

Art & Activity: Interactive Strategies for engaging with art is a free online course offered by MoMA on the online learning platform Coursera.

Art & Activity builds upon the inquiry-based approaches of Art and Inquiry: Museum Teaching Strategies for Your Classroom, while delving into activity-based strategies for making your students empowered participants.

The course requires approx. 9 to 12 hours to finish – spread over four weekly units – and is self-paced. That means it is easy to adapt the weekly workload to the personal schedule. Participation is free, though a certificate is available for Euro 40 (after successfully passing small quiz-exams and submitting a final project work). A very essential – and probably often overlooked and understated – part of the course is the forum, where participants can interact with the instructors and other students.


The course Art & Activity is structured into four weekly units:

  • Introduction to Art and Activity
  • Activities for Analyzing and Reflecting
  • Activities for Creating, Imagining & Connecting
  • Assessment Strategies

Each unit comprises short videos, a reading list, links and practical teaching resources. In the videos, the course instructors introduce diverse activities and how they can be applied in the museum and classroom: e.g. VIEWFINDER, TURN&TALK, POSE LIKE A SCULPTURE. The focus lies on providing a set of tools and skills to use by the participants in their museum or school environment. A transcript of the videos is available in several languages.

Screenshot_Video Transcript

The reading list contains basic articles on education (Hein, Dewey), inhouse- research by the MoMA and links to interesting blogposts. In addition, teaching resources from the MoMA are offered – that’s especially valueable for students without prior experience in museum education.

To receive a course certificate the user needs to pass a multiple-choice quiz at the end of each unit (5-8 questions) and hand in a project work. The multiple-choice quizzes focus on the theoretical and practical inputs and are not as easy as they might seem. The final project work consists in developing one educational activity using one art work of your choice. The project work is peer-reviewed by the participants. For someone how has never done a peer-review it might be challenging to apply the learned material in an active, reverse way by providing feedback to others. On the other hand the peer-review is an excellent opportunity to see how other students have applied the theories and methods discussed in the course.


Participation in in the MOOC Art & Activity was an interesting, informative and entertaining experience. It is a good way to start, reengage or refresh the personal museum education expertise. The course is accessible to people with no museum background and is available in multiple languages. As most MOOCs, the course is free, accessible, and self-paced. So go for it!

Inkedcoursera certificate_LI_namenlos

MOOCs on museums and learning

The Museum as a Site and Source for Learning
The courses explores the purpose of museums and how they facilitate learning. It covers topics such as museum visitors, social media and learning and online exhibitions.

Teaching Critical Thinking through Art with the National Gallery of Art
The course shows how to integrate works of art using Artful Thinking routines, effective strategies from Project Zero at Harvard University.

Art & Inquiry: Museum Teaching Strategies for Your Classroom
The focus of the course lies on how to integrate works of art into the classroom with inquiry-based teaching methods originally developed for in-gallery museum education.

Art & Ideas: Teaching with Themes
In this course, participants explore four themes educators at MoMA use frequently: Places & Spaces, Art & Identity, Transforming Everyday Objects, and Art & Society.

Design in the Classroom with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
The course shows how to teach design thinking in the K-12 classroom using Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s innovative classroom activity.

ART of the MOOC: Public Art and Pedagogy
Students try their hands at their own public art interventions and learn from the theory of public practice and its recent history.


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