According to Museums Associations, one of the key advantages of digital technologies is giving the learner choice and control. Learning becomes a process that allows one to become an empowered, active pursuer rather than a passive consumer. Although museums give visitors the opportunity to create their own learning environment, it is important to use the digital spaces in a more meaningful way that personalizes the experience.
Clarie Ross, research assistant at the Center for Digital Humanities at UCL, argues that museums need to provide an environment that allows visitors to think and not just observe and doing so by letting them connect with objects on a personal level allowing them to gain more of an experience. After observations at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, I decided this is just what was lacking. Visitors at the Dinosphere exhibit weren’t connecting at a personal level with the digital spaces which caused them be disinterested in them. There needs to be a way they could take what they were doing in the physical spaces and apply it digitally to enhance the learning experience.
In 2014, the Country Music Hall of Fame unveiled a new expansion that “feels like being in a high-tech country music playground.” The ACM and Fred Dinah Gretsch Family galleries begin with a station where users create a virtual badge by taking a picture. They then use that profile throughout the exhibit to play interactive games and activities, record and create songs in Taylor Swift’s tour bus and more. However, the overall theme throughout the exhibit isn’t consistent.
The long-term goal of this research is to develop an experience that will put visitors in the shoes of a paleontologist. This will consist of an area at the entrance of the exhibit allowing visitors to create a digital profile they will use throughout the exhibit. Each physical space throughout the exhibit will be partnered with a digital space that visitors will use to check in and update their paleontologist status. After completing each task, the user will receive a certificate giving them the title of a professional paleontologist.
To achieve these goals I will conduct more observational research at museums, I will conduct design thinking exercises and brainstorming activities, and then I will create a number of prototypes and conduct usability and evaluative research to help identify the best way to present this idea in the exhibit. I will evaluate my success based on the difference made in the learning experience and interaction with digital spaces of the Dinosphere exhibit of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
At the completion of this project, this idea will be created into a template for the Children’s Museum to use in other exhibits to combine physical and digital spaces. This will allow visitors to connect with each exhibit on a more personal level, while also enhancing the learning experience.