I'm currently participating in a MOOC offered by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on art based instruction, museum teaching strategies and inquiry teaching. Information on the course, "Art and Inquiry: Museum Teaching Strategies For Your Classroom," is available here.
The course material combines readings, video lectures, and discussion groups. The focus is on teaching techniques/resources and is based on MoMA's successful education program. I signed up for this free course based on a desire to gain another perspective on educational programming. In 2013 over 1300 people participated in educational programming at my work and a large number of those participants were elementary and secondary school students. I'm always looking for different ways to engage students in the history of residential schools, visiting art exhibitions, and history more broadly.
The first week's content focused on the basics of inquiry learning and the use of objects/artwork as instructional tools. The first week's readings reinforced the flexibility of artwork and objects in instructional settings -- objects can be used to spark conversation with all age groups and engagement with works of art/artifacts can teach critical thinking, observation, and presentation skills.
I found the video example of the MoMA staff interacting with student groups particularly inspiring. The staff encourage the students to observe an art work closely, discuss with each other their observations, and compare/contrast what they are observing. The content helped inspire a couple of ideas about how to facilitate student interaction with artifacts currently on display at my work.