Posted by Carole Kirk

Museum Studies Curriculum Enhancement

(This is a copy of the resources made available on the VLE for ARTF2121 Leeds Collections in Context for Semester 2 2011/2012.  These have been simplified from the previous year, based on feedback from students on the workshop enhancements phase.)

1. Using a Blog

What is a blog, and how do I use the WordPress blog?

WordPress is a very popular blogging tool which can also be used to create websites. Our website ( was created using WordPress. Learning how to use it will develop a potentially valuable skill that will improve your employability, as well as helping you to develop your exhibition project. The video below should help you get started, and you may also like to see our page on WordPress on the Digitalis website.


Why use a blog?

Students from the module last year told us that:-

  • A group blog would spark ideas and comments from each other
  • A blog is useful to keep everything in one place
  • They said that WordPress was intuitive to use
  • You can get a WordPress smartphone app and blog from your smartphone, which they said would be quicker and more accessible for them
  • They could use their blog to ‘show’ their ideas directly, rather than having to describe them in words (for example, but putting images or Google Sketchup ideas onto their blog)

What can you put on a blog?

These are some of the ways that students used their blogs last year:-

  • They were used like sketchbooks to gather bits and pieces together into one place.
  • Recording influential or interesting videos from YouTube.
  • Using camera to record information about spaces/sites.
  • Talking reflections out loud to recorder, to capture ideas before they forgot them.
  • Trying things out and recording experiments e.g. photos or sketches.
  • Written reflections to support visual material.
  • Quotes from reading, explaining why they feel that quote is relevant to their practice.
  • Connections (links) to other practitioners’ work with notes of why relevant to own work. and how it has suggested ideas for their project.
  • Record questions or ideas to explore later.
  • Reflections on feedback and recording ideas for what to try next. Some of this done on recorder, some in text.
  • Blogging images that were a stimulus for ideas.
  • Scan of brainstorm spider diagram.

Putting images onto your Blog

Because you are putting images onto a website, you need to make sure you have copyright permission to do so. We’ve created lots of guidance on the Digitalis website to show you how to obtain copyright free images; and how to compress the image size:

The videos below show you how to compress images to make them a small enough size to upload to WordPress. They will be too big if you upload them directly from your camera. There is more detailed information about image compression here – – but the videos below will tell you what you need to do.

Using Paintshop Pro (available on the cluster computers)

Using GIMP (free software which you can download and use at home)

2. Reflecting out loud

Often it can be difficult to capture everything in writing when you are visiting a site or examining artefacts. Voice recording can be a simple way to record your observations in a ‘live’ and immediate way. It is also good experience for creating recordings that you may want to use as podcasts in your professional career (see section on Podcasts below).

You can try voice recording on your own at home first of all – just start reflecting ‘out loud’ to get used to the idea, and to get used to the process of uploading the files. Then try recording on-site. Don’t feel self-conscious – imagine that you are talking to an interested listener on the phone. If it helps, think of a real person who would be interested, and pretend you are talking to them.

Try any of the following:

  • recording a spoken tour of your chosen space;
  • ‘talking to’ images or artefacts to describe what you see/think/feel;
  • rambling to yourself with no structure or intention;
  • ‘interviewing’ yourself about your exhibition. Try writing down three interview questions about your project, and then record an ‘ interview’ with yourself where you answer these questions.
    • Why have you chosen the space that you have?
    • What kind of experience do you want the viewer to have?
    • Which three objects would you choose as most important in the narrative structure of the exhibition, and why?

This will give you experience at being interviewed, and confidence in listening to your answers. You may feel, as you are talking, that you are rambling. But listening again to your responses, you may find that you made more sense than you thought. There is also something engaging about listening to people thinking out loud, rather than speaking a prepared script. Why do you think radio and TV interviews are so popular?

Once you have uploaded your recordings onto your blog, listen again to your spoken reflections. Do they spark new thoughts or ideas or questions? What do you notice? Make notes on your blog next to the recording.

3. Creating a video from your audio files so you can put them onto the blog

You can use Microsoft Photostory 3 to create a very simple video from your audio recordings, which you can then put onto your blog (the WordPress video above shows you how to put video onto your blog).

You can make a simple video using one audio recording and one photo. This video shows you how.

And this video shows you how to upload to LUtube:

4. Podcasting (for information only)

Podcasting is now a very common way for museums and galleries to reach out to audiences. We are not suggesting for this module that you develop a podcast, although the skills that you will develop by reflecting out loud into an audio or video recorder will be useful if you do wish to explore podcasting. Here are some basic guides to podcasting:

Podcasting in Plain English:

Example of Adrian Searle podcast on the Guardian website:
Preparing a podcast:

Creating and publishing:

Compressing your sound file using Audacity (scroll down to ‘Compress Audio Files’)