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After a few years, usage has increased due to teachers repeatedly visiting with different
classes of students, and also through word of mouth: there are even a number of schools
from overseas who use the MUD for teaching purposes.The number of adult users has
also grown with specialists in that area of research using the MUD as an informal meet-
ing place and discussion zone.
A Virtual Museum Community
A virtual museum is a prearranged collection of electronic artefacts and information
resources, which can comprise anything that can be digitised. As there are no barriers
towards amalgamating dispersed collections in the virtual space, a virtual museum's col-
lection can include different resources around the world which are related to the muse-
um's main objectives, regardless of their real, physical location.
Virtual museums tend to have the following characteristics:
- The collection is significantly large, and potentially limitless;
- The home page (the entrance) of the virtual museum is both attractive, and easy to
access and navigate;
- It will necessitate multiple visits in order to explore anything approaching the whole
collection of the museum.The homepage should therefore be dynamic and retain
the interest of the returning user;
- Different learning tools may be offered to answer the needs of different age groups,
audiences, and educational approaches;
- The lack of geographical restrictions leads to a diverse and dispersed visiting community.
Virtual museums link the activities of museums, universities, and other cultural heritage
institutions which can be physically situated all over the world.The online environment
was created by collaboration between individuals and organisations, and is itself a virtual
community, encouraging (indeed, demanding if the collection is non-static) the further
collaboration of Web page content providers, experts, and visitors.
Visitors to the virtual museum can range between casual browsers and dedicated
enthusiasts, experts and schoolchildren, one-off visitors and regulars. Participants in this
community are able to perform integrated learning in different ways, including research
and the remote `manipulation' of museum artefacts. Students thereby acquire knowledge
and develop an understanding of a culture itself, while at the same time gaining the skills
necessary to explore content and make informed judgments.Visitors can often also con-
tribute experiences or knowledge back to the community. One of the standard roles of a
museum is as a place for learning and interpretation that is not restricted to traditional
educational scenery.The virtual museum community makes museums available to people
who are unable to access physical buildings, and technology enables both curators and
users to restructure virtual exhibits in a variety of different ways.
With the introduction of Web-based communities and collaborative exploration, users are
empowered to interact with an object even from distance, and to explore it from different
approaches and perspectives.They can develop an interest by using the virtual museum's
resources and access to curators, collection managers or subject specialists is also possible,
allowing multiple points of entry to access of the object.Very successful virtual museums
communities do not attempt to replace the physical visit, but use ICT to produce
Collaborative Mechanisms
and Technologies
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