Roald Dahl Museum – Livestreaming for the longer term

Roald Dahl Museum is taking the longer view on online delivery. We talked to their learning team and Director Steve Gardam to find out more.

Since opening in 2005, the Roald Dahl Museum schools programme has welcomed an average of 10,000 schoolchildren every year, typically from schools within an hour and a half driving distance from their home at Great Missenden.

Naturally constrained by physical capacity to around 10 sessions per week across the school year (pre Covid), the team realised the on-site offer couldn’t grow to meet potential demand. Now – with development spurred by the pandemic surge in use of Zoom, Teams and more – alongside real-world visits, schools can book for an hour-long livestream video session led by the museum’s skilled facilitators, exploring how Roald Dahl created his characters.

Director Steve Gardam explains; “Online, we think we could eventually deliver 1,600 sessions per year, to around 50,000 pupils: a staggering 357% increase. It needs more investment and time to get there, but it’s not impossible: there are 16,000 primary schools in England alone, so only one in 10 needs to book with us and Roald Dahl’s stories are likely enjoyed in every single one. Crucially, these sessions are for schoolchildren to experience together, in their classroom, so this is not a lockdown offer, it is for the long term.”

During the sessions, pupils get to see Museum highlights through pre-recorded videos and enjoy live interaction with the facilitators. Resources are sent out in advance so pupils can undertake activities together in their classroom throughout the session.

“We knew from our evaluation that it’s the facilitators that teachers really appreciate, and we also knew coming somewhere special was important, so we didn’t just want to ‘speak to a PowerPoint’ – we’re trying to show off the Museum, to get as close as we can get to the real thing.”

The learning team have taught themselves filmmaking techniques, and bought kit supported by funding from CRF, Art Fund and Southwest Museum Development amongst others. And the approach offers a good deal for schools too: sessions are charged at around half the cost compared to those that take place on site.

“We know a museum moving to deliver learning online because of the COVID pandemic is hardly limited to us,” explains Steve.

“There are other examples of great practice. However, we have worked hard to produce a high-quality offer that has the potential to transform our reach and impact as an independent charity. We’re not there yet but with livestreaming if we can deliver three or four sessions at the same time, that’s how we can scale.”

Click here to find about more about Roald Dahl school visits>>