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Navigation North | The Learning Lab

Navigation North, located in Chico, California, is a team of educators, developers, and designers who build applications and handle web development in the education sector. In 2014 the Smithsonian contracted Navigation North to research methods to help museums become more accessible through digital environments to teachers, and in turn, make Smithsonian assets more accessible to students who weren’t likely to visit the museum in their lifetime. 

Screen Shot of Detail page for an artifact in the Smithsonian Digital CollectionFunded through the Gates Foundation, Navigation North conducted research for over a year, gathering evidence and making recommendations to the Smithsonian about what sort of digital environments could be presented to educators worldwide for use in their classrooms. After being awarded the contract to develop the online resource based on their research, Navigation North sought out M&I to assist in design and implementation.

M&I Senior Consultant Earl Jessee had worked with Navigation North previously on a number of projects over the years, and was viewed by them as a great fit to assist with the implementation of the design, content, and user interface elements.

Earl was instrumental in helping with how the tools could work to better engage larger segments of our constituency that we were targeting. Brian Ausland V.P., Director of Education

With M&I’s help for design sensitivity, Navigation North was able to create the Learning Lab, a web accessible digital platform that houses a catalog of assets from the Smithsonian’s galleries, museums, and libraries. People who use the Learning Lab can search and store learning resources (like lesson plans), create and share personalized collections, participate in online learning experiences, or find information about the Smithsonian Center for Learning & Digital Access.

It’s nice to think that we can fall back onto these types of relationships here locally with the M&I team. Their leadership and experience are invaluable to this type of work, and to have access to it is a great thing.” –Brian Ausland, Navigation North

Screen Shot of a Search Results page for termWith the launch of the Learning Lab has come a greater understanding for what museum culture is, and how those valuable resources can be shared with a larger audience through the strategic use of technology. With the repackaging of museum assets as a commodity within education and the general public, these resources can now be explored and enjoyed by a far larger audience than previously possible.

We can clearly point to key pieces that wouldn’t have been the same without M&I’s involvement, and because of that the Smithsonian has assigned a value to our company which allowed us to land a new multi-year contract. We’re really pleased with the service M&I provided and the guidance we were able to offer our client in this endeavor. Brian Ausland V.P., Director of Education

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