In the past few weeks as an intern at Smithsonian Enterprise, I have learned a lot about how the Smithsonian as an organization works together and where there are divisions as it is a massive organization! I have been working on both the public and private side of the EdX platform to see what the front end or the side that those who sign up for classes through the Smithsonian see and the back end or the side that only those working on building the courses see. I have also had the chance to work with Learning Lab which is a platform that the Smithsonian operates that allows for teachers or museum professionals to use to build effective resources for their educational purposes. What has been surprising so far is that the backend of the EdX platform is pretty straightforward and easy to use as I help to build out courses for the upcoming summer sessions for the Smithsonian courses. I will say I was pretty nervous entering this internship as I did not have a lot of experience with building courses and utilizing this type of digital technology. Although, I have been pleasantly surprised at the users’ experience both on the private side and the public side.
My initial expectations of this internship and the work that I would be doing, were that this was going to be more coding heavy and less about the content that will be built into the course. In my check-in meeting with my supervisor, Alison, we take time to discuss what concepts the members of the different Smithsonian Units are going to be using to base their content for the course on. This actually helps me to understand why I am building out the course and the goals of the museum professionals that will actually be the instructors for the course. I will also be attending project meetings with these members of the different Smithsonian Units to have a chance to hear their process in deciding how they would like their content shared and which content to share.
There is not too much actual coding work, which was a bit of a relief to find out and I am excited to be a part of the project meetings with other members of the Smithsonian Units. This aspect of the internship feels very collaborative, when at first I thought this internship was going to be pretty solitary work. My expectations of the internship have changed a bit now that I am a few weeks into the work, but I think it is definitely for the better!