Past Topics

VSA offers opportunities for professionals and students to further hone their skills through webinars, web chats, book clubs, and virtual networking. Virtual learning offerings address a variety of topics in our field and provide helpful resources and strategies relevant to a wide range of practitioners. These offerings provide opportunities for audience engagement, and provide time for participants to ask questions. Members of VSA receive discounted registration to these events, so consider joining!

If you have ideas or suggestions for future PD events, please let us know at [email protected].

We appreciate your continued support of VSA. Consider making a donation to VSA's Annual Fund which helps us continue to offer these enriching programs.

VSA offers a variety of Professional Development opportunities, including the webchats and webinars highlighted below, as well as regular Community Support Groups, Networking Game Night Sessions, Book Clubs, and Watch Parties.


Transferring Skills: Connecting Visitor Studies to Other Fields
Recorded Live on November 18, 2020

Throughout the pandemic Museums, Zoos, Aquariums, and other cultural centers have continued to be impacted by closures, loss of revenue, and staffing reductions. Many VSA members and other research and evaluation staff have found themselves laid-off, furloughed, or otherwise without work. In these uncertain times it can be difficult to find new, exciting, and rewarding positions within the museum field. Join VSA for a 1 hour webchat with a panel of researchers and evaluators as they discuss their experience transferring visitor studies skills into different industries and fields.

Topics to look forward to include:

  • Articulating your why for moving to a new field.
  • Resume verbiage and helpful tips for drawing comparisons to visitors studies and other fields.
  • Identifying opportunities to build your portfolio.
  • Retaining a sense of self and passion for the field while operating outside of it.

Presenters:

  • Taline Kuyumjian | Kuyumjian Consulting
  • Ivel Gontan | Association of Science-Technology Centers
  • Sara Davis | Centene Corporation
  • Michelle Nguyen | HubSpot
  • Julia Miller | Outreach

A recording of this presentation is available to VSA members, please email association headquarters to receive access.


Witnessing Visitor Experience: First Person Video Technology for Museum Research
Recorded Live on November 10, 2020

In recent years, numerous research teams have experimented with using video research methodologies to understand visitor experiences in museum settings. Bringing together researchers with recent publications in this area, this webinar will focus on how these researchers used video technology in innovative ways to record minute visitor experiences and the major benefits and limitations of video-based data sets. Our hope is this webinar will inspire others to consider video methodologies for their own visitor research interests.

Our presenters are:

  • Alice Anderson - Minneapolis Institute of Art
    Used wearable Go Pros to record maker activities on a museum floor from the childs view.
  • Dr. Michael Garbutt - University of New South Wales
    Captured visitor gaze with Mobile Eye Tracking technology in an art exhibition.
  • Dr. Ben Rydal Shapiro - Georgia State University
    Utilizes video to capture the collaborative and geographic nature of learning in museums

A recording of this webinar can be purchased here. $10 for VSA Members, $20 for Non-Members


Share your Voice! Town Hall on VSA’s DEAI Priorities and Action Steps
Recorded Live on October 14, 2020

As VSA continues its work to center diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) in its organizational practices and policies, outreach and membership offerings, and leadership in the visitor studies and informal learning fields, we want to make sure that the voices of members and professionals in our community are engaged and included in the process. As part of our quarterly DEAI Webchat series, we invite you to a free web chat designed to:

  • Gather feedback and input on a draft of VSA’s DEAI Priorities and Action Steps document, based on our work to date
  • Better understand the implications and needs surrounding these priorities for members and professionals in our field
  • Refine and strengthen the priorities and action steps
  • Create opportunities for involvement in multiple DEAI efforts

The DEAI Task Force invites you to join us for a participatory dialogue to help inform VSA’s DEAI initiatives, share knowledge and insights, and help shape the next steps along this pathway. Please come with your ideas and questions related to the VSA's DEAI Priorities and Action Steps document.

A recording of this web chat can be found here.


Evaluation Goals, Methods, and Ongoing Insights for Widening Access and Relevance in the Smithsonian’s Fossil Hall
Recorded Live on September 30, 2020

Members of the team tasked with renovating the Smithsonian’s Hall of Fossils – Deep Time exhibition share the struggles, lessons learned, and findings from their seven-year mammoth project. Topics include key takeaways from audience research, communication of challenging topics like climate change and evolution, and keys to broadening accessibility and inclusion. The group will also share methodological considerations and lessons learned from the exhibition, audience research program, and accessibility project.

A recording of this web chat can be found here.


Culture Track: A Two Part Series

In this time of upheaval, museums, zoos, aquariums, and cultural organizations have wondered how they can best support and remain relevant to their communities. Join VSA's two-part series on Culture Track: a national study led by LaPlaca Cohen and Slover Linett to uncover how organizations can be responsive to and benefit their communities while grappling with adjustments in light of COVID-19.

Culture Track Part 1: Findings and Methodologies for Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis
Recorded Live on September 9, 2020

Members of the Slover Linett and LaPlaca Cohen teams provide an overview of key takeaways for organizations looking to better understand and connect with their audiences as well as the general public during Covid-19. The group will also share methodological considerations and lessons learned from designing, coordinating, analyzing, and reporting on a field-wide initiative that scaled from an initial expected 10,000 responses to over 120,000.

Panelists include:

Jen Benoit-Bryan, Slover Linett
Madeline Smith, Slover Linett
Kriti Mira Adhikari, LaPlaca Cohen

A recording of this web chat can be found here.


Culture Track Part 2: Interpreting and Implementing Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis
Recorded Live on September 16, 2020

A panel of cultural industry professionals discuss how their organizations have used the Culture Track study to inform decisions during Covid, and how findings fit with other research studies undertaken during Covid-19.

Panelists include:
Caroline Goeser, Museum of Fine Art, Houston
Lindsay Maldonado, Shedd Aquarium
Sunil Iyengar, National Endowment for the Arts
Jen Benoit-Bryan, Slover Linett

A recording of this web chat can be found here.

VSA’s Zoo & Aquarium Focus Interest Group (ZAFIG) Virtual Mini Conference!
Recorded Live on August 26, 2020

While we can't meet in person this year, VSA’s Zoo and Aquarium Focused Interest Group (ZAFIG) wanted to provide a virtual opportunity for our community to present work being done in zoos and aquariums from the past year. Focusing on hot topics in the zoo-aquarium field, this conference-like web chat will include 5 mini-sessions that allow for sharing, learning, and dialogue. Our exciting slate of presentations includes:

  • The Impact of Human-animal Imagery on Public Attitudes Towards Zoos and Wildlife- Meghan Shaw, Zoos Victoria and Deakin University
  • Community Co-Design of Educational Programming with an Undeveloped Zoological Park- Amy Niedbalski, Saint Louis Zoo, Director, Conservation Audience Research & Evaluation (CARE)
  • Exploring the Relationship Between Empathy for Animals and Environmental Self-Efficacy in Zoo and Aquarium Visitors, Linnea Johnson, M.A. Museology and Emerging Zoo & Aquarium Evaluator and Communicator
  • Community Engagement through Facebook Live During a Worldwide Pandemic- Nichole Nageotte, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Conservation Education Researcher
  • Cracking Open Old Reports: Revisiting Past Data to Guide Future Directions-Emily O’Hara, Detroit Zoological Society, Curator of Exhibit Design
A recording of this presentation is available to VSA members, please email association headquarters to receive access.

Conducting Community-Based Research: What We Learned as Beginners
Recorded Live on August 19, 2020

In this convening, community partners and Exploratorium researchers will describe an NSF-funded exhibition and research project, called Middle Ground. The Middle Ground experience is facilitated by community partners and includes exhibits that support exploration of social science research into bias and stereotyping, humor and generosity, how we work together, and how we pull apart into tribes.

Audience researcher and consultant Cecilia Garibay will describe key principles for conducting community-based research and evaluation that attends to and incorporates community context while a panel of presenters will share examples of implementing these principles in practice. We will conclude by sharing challenges and insights from this approach.

A recording of this web chat can be found here.


Reflections on “Racism, Unrest, and the Role of the Museum Field”
Recorded Live on July 29, 2020

In the midst of global anti-racism protests and civil unrest, many museums and informal learning institutions have publicly committed to supporting racial justice and rejected the idea of returning to “business as usual” as they begin to reopen. Inspired by the recent AAM panel, “Racism, Unrest, and the Role of Museums” (Lonnie Bunch, Johnetta Cole, and Lori Fogerty), this web chat will focus on questions around the role of visitor studies and evaluation in supporting transformational change in the museum field, such as:

  • What is the nature of conversations in your institution around racism and social justice?
  • To what extent are museums addressing racial inequity within the organization and supporting racial justice movements in the broader community, and how can visitor studies and audience research inform these efforts?
  • How can evaluators help to hold our informal learning institutions accountable for anti-racist statements and commitments?
  • Finally, as Dr. Lonnie Bunch asks of museums, how should the visitor studies field respond to these social crises and what should be our role in the struggle against systemic racism?

A recording of this web chat can be found here.


Conducting Focus Groups In-Person and Online
Recorded Live on July 8, 2020

Focus groups are a key visitor studies methodology, although they can be costly. In this web chat, presenters will provide tips for budget-friendly focus group approaches that can be employed both in-person and online. The goals for the web chat are to:

  • Share examples of how internal evaluators have executed focus groups in a budget-friendly manner
  • Provide tips for effectively conducting focus groups in-person and online
  • Discuss challenges, opportunities, and ways participants have been adapting focus group methodologies with respect to the current environment of reduced budgets and social distancing

A recording of this webinar can be purchased here. $10 for VSA Members, $20 for Non-Members.


Google Analytics 101: Understanding Your Visitors’ Behavior Online
Recorded Live on May 21, 2020

Learn ways that Google Analytics can help you uncover insights into your website visitors and app users. Presenters will share examples of how they use it to understand visitor behavior online.

Presenters:

  • Elizabeth Bolander, Cleveland Museum of Art
  • Sewon Barrera, Exploratorium
  • Sandra Kaiser, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

 Overview

  • Elizabeth will start by sharing a step-by-step look at some of the most popular and basic Google Analytics features that the Cleveland Museum of Art team utilizes in their work monitoring websites and the ArtLens App.
  • Sewon will share key Google Analytics tips to analyze and curate visitor experience on a museum website.
  • Sandra will discuss a case study of how analytics has guided content and production work for online resources at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  • Participants will also have a chance to swap ideas for other potential Google Analytics uses to inform visitor studies and ask questions of the panelists.
A recording of this webinar can be purchased here. $10 for VSA Members, $20 for Non-Members.

Attending to Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion in the Time of Coronavirus
Recorded Live on April 29, 2020

Featuring Dr. Cecilia Garibay (The Garibay Group).

During this web convening, we discussed the following:
• Support conversation and dialogue around DEAI efforts in the time of Coronavirus
• Share challenges and reflect on strategies for focusing attention on DEAI at the institutional level
• Envision the role that visitor studies professionals can play in advocating for or supporting DEAI efforts during this time and into the future, as museums and other informal learning institutions begin to redefine who they are and how they serve communities

A recording of this web chat can be found here.


Culturally Responsive Visitor Studies: An Interactive Workshop with Dr. Katrina Bledsoe
Recorded Live on February 12, 2020

Join the Visitor Studies Association (VSA) for an interactive webinar focusing on the considerations and potential challenges relating to cultural responsiveness within the evaluation process. Dr. Katrina L. Bledsoe, a leader and expert on issues surrounding cultural responsiveness and equity-focused evaluation, will present this virtual workshop, providing examples from her professional experience. Participants will work together to think about how evaluators and informal learning professionals can identify and address the culture and context that exist within the evaluation process. Participants will also have the opportunity to think about how they can integrate cultural responsiveness into evaluation practice. The webinar will utilize presentation, large group discussion, and breakout rooms to:

  • Discuss the terminology, definitions, and personal perspectives surrounding Culturally Responsive Evaluation
  • Examine a case study evaluation project from a cultural responsiveness lens
  • Develop an evaluation plan that considers the needs and perspectives of various stakeholders
  • Share and compare ideas from small group discussions
  • Reflect on the case study as a whole, paying attention to how culture, context, and equity are addressed

Looking for something more historical? Email association headquarters for assistance.