Museums and the Web

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Visitor-constructed Personalized Learning Trails

TitleVisitor-constructed Personalized Learning Trails
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsWalker, K.
Secondary TitleMuseums and the Web 2007. Proceedings
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedToronto, Canada
EditorTrant, J., & Bearman D.
Keywordsaudio, bookmarking, botany, education, garden, learning, location, mobile, personalization, schools

This research explores the use of mobile technology to create personalized learning trails through the capture, editing and sharing of audio, photos and text during visits to museums, botanic gardens and cultural heritage sites. I report results from several recent trials in which visitors used mobile devices to collaboratively create, edit and share trails. Visitors included 9- to 10-year-olds, as well as adults, studying the subject of horticulture in a botanic garden or relating artworks to personal experience in art museums. The overall goal is to find the appropriate levels of structure, support and focus for school visits as well as for casual visitors. Findings so far indicate that a narrow subject focus and a manageable amount of data capture are appropriate in most cases. Audio has proven the most important mode for communication and interpretation. Voice recording not only is easier and faster than entering text, but also enables visitors who may have writing difficulties. Audio is particularly effective when used collaboratively -- for example, when two people have a conversation or share their impressions while in front of the artifact or exhibit of interest.