21st Century Skills:
Maine Memory Network (MMN) is a statewide digital museum created out of a partnership between the Maine Historical Society and the Maine State Library to increase public access and engagement with the holdings of historical societies across the state. MMN now has 170 active contributing partners and more than 12,000 primary documents. The site has expanded access to historical collections that previously were inaccessible due to geographic distance and/or limited institutional hours. This online learning resource has transformed museum, library, and school relationships across the state.
One exciting offshoot is the Maine Community Heritage Project (MCHP), which emphasizes dynamic audience and community engagement. MCHP recruits and facilitates local, community-based teams that work together to collect, digitize, and create online exhibits of a community’s historical resources. MCHP nourishes community-wide learning partnerships, and, in addition to fostering best practice in historiography, enhances each participant’s 21st century skills.
Project teams consisting of librarians, historical society staff, teachers, students, and community members work together to research, learn, and create new online resources on the community’s history. All team members develop and refine skills such as technology literacy, critical thinking, written and oral communication, and collaboration skills. The project’s focus on intergenerational learning is noteworthy—students are recruited through active K-12 school partnerships, and these students establish highly collaborative working relationships with historical society staff and community volunteers. Students learn local history with other team members in applied, highly relevant settings, while historical society staff and volunteers benefit from digitization and technology skills shared by students. Civic literacy is also a key component of MCHP: upon conclusion of the project, each team celebrates their new historical knowledge with a community-wide event.
Additionally, Maine Memory Network has made a strategic commitment to continuous improvement by hiring the Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI) to evaluate and refine MCHP through two key phases: formative evaluation, designed to provide iterative feedback on the development and implementation of key project components; and summative evaluation, designed to assess the impact of the project on participating individuals, organizations, and communities.