Online Cultural Consumers and Museums


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  • Hello, I’m Koula and I’m a PhD student at IET at the Open University. My research is looking at technology enhanced museum visitor experience and particularly use of social media tools among young people in formal and non-formal places. What I’ll present here today is based on a study I carried out over the last few months. Its aim was to gain an understanding on how best to support aspects of the visiting experience such as meaning making via social media tools among school groups? My goal here is to present this work and some of the preliminary findings of this study.
  • In September 2013 there were a total of 3.7 million visits to the National Museum and Galleries in UK (Source:
  • Twitter was selected as the social networking tool to be used to complement the interactions among the participants during the visit. For the people who are not familiar with Twitter, Twitter is primarily a microblogging platform, where every user can publish short messages up to 140 characters, so-called ‘tweets’. There are some leaflets that I will pass around - trying to recruit some more Twitterers here! There are quite a few reasons why I opted for Twitter: first, it has both synchronous and asynchronous characteristics. It would allow the researchers to collect participants’ reactions to what they experience at the MoL but also enable communication beyond the visit. There is a growing body of research on Twitter and discourse on its effectiveness as an educational tool. The advantages of microblogging, according to Ebner et al. (2010) consist mainly in the possibility of giving immediate feedback and in documenting processes (p. 94).
    It is quite simple to use. Also, in UK updates can be carried out using SMS, and this means that it could be used even without a network in the museum during the visit ( I was lucky enough that MoL had infrastructure, but not all the museums do).
    It has been embraced with enthusiasm among museums worldwide, and as I already said, 1700 museums are using it and considering integration into educational programs
  • All the interviewees agreed that this was a very positive and engaging experience, especially compared to previous experiences
  • Online Cultural Consumers and Museums

    1. 1. ‘Online Cultural Consumers and Museums’ Kings College, London 14 November 2013 Communicating the Museum Learning Experience Online: Reflections on young people’s use of social and mobile technologies in a school trip Koula Charitonos Institute of Educational Technology 1
    2. 2. © AustralianMuseum Source: 2
    3. 3. Motivation • Strong interest in gaining an understanding on how best to support school trips to museums • Observation 1: School trips are an important means of introducing young people to museum collections and may have a long-term learning impact and influence perceptions • Observation 2: Gap between an experience that one has during a visit to a museum as a leisure activity and during a school trip • Observation 3: Museums can be complex spaces for children/young people (i.e. museums are filled with diverse artefacts, too much information and use of highly intellectual language) • Observation 4: On-going problem for museums (and schools)3 is how to support and develop interpretation skills in young people
    4. 4. Horizon Report 2012: Museum Edition • People expect to be able to work, learn, study, and connect with their social networks wherever and whenever they want • The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators • Collection-related rich media are becoming increasingly valuable assets in digital interpretation • (In. Johnson, L. et al., 2013. The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Museum Edition, Austin: Texas: New Media Consortium) 4 4
    5. 5. In: Digital Culture: How arts and cultural organisations in England use technology; ACE, AHRC, Nesta (2013) Digital R&D Fund for the Arts Report “the majority of cultural organisations regard digital technologies as essential to marketing, preserving and archiving, and operations” •growing audience size •reaching new audiences •increasing engagement Learning? 5
    6. 6. PhD Thesis: An investigation into the use of social and mobile technologies in school trips to museums • investigate how social and mobile technologies shape young people’s practices and learning processes and facilitate making meaning for learners, in and across settings Focus on: • incorporate new tools to pedagogical practices • a research design to allow a learner to switch between different timescales and different contexts i.e. offline/online; individual/social; and formal/informal • user-generated content (i.e. online posts, pictures, video) • peer-led communication (face-to-face, online) (esp. social aspects of interpretation) • embedding reflective practices in encounters with objects (with Twitter) • value the use of resources that are generated by learners themselves 6
    7. 7. Research Question How does the use of social and mobile technologies by young people before, during and after a school visit to a museum contribute to a student’s learning trajectory and facilitate meaning making processes? 7
    8. 8. Why ? • most popular micro-blogging service • research has shown that it can be used as an educational tool (Elavsky et al. 2011, Junco et al. 2010) • synchronous and asynchronous attributes • simple interface (web and iPhone application) • updates in users’ status in UK can be carried out using SMS • not a ‘distractive’ technology (?) • popular among museums 11 © Guardian 9.3.2010
    9. 9. Study:’Fight and Protest for your rights’ • Museum of London • Year 9 History class (n=29) • KS3 Scheme of Work ‘Equality and Beliefs’ (‘Civil Rights’) • Pre- and Post-visit Classroom activities © Museum of London 9
    10. 10. Design: Trajectory of class activities ACTIVITY CLASSROOM/ SETTING ICT SUITE OBJECT E-LEARNING MUSEUM STUDIO/MUS EUM CLASSROOM/ INTERVIEW ICT SUITE ROOM BUS Communication Communication Create a within, between and Communication Reflect on the within the short clip to beyond institutions upload pictures within the institution activities and the institution reflect on (face-to-face and start presentation (face-to-face and overall (face-to-face the online) online) experience and online) experience TOOLS/R ESOURC ES pen/paper PCs online platforms iPhones MoL website textbooks images PEOPLE individual/ in groups exhibits labels iPhones Twitter/tweets PCs iPhones/camera images pen/pencil online platforms recorder (Twitter/Vuvox) worksheet museum map in groups in groups time Flip camera online platforms (Twitter/Vuvox) images (from museum) tweets paper post-its iPhones pen/paper recorder Twitter-stream pen/paper meaning maps individual individual/ in groups individual (diagram adopted by Steier & Pierroux, 2011) 10
    11. 11. Data collected Pre - visit Visit pre-test questionnaires observation (notes, pictures, video) entry meaning maps online posts on Twitter online posts on Twitter pictures/video by participants observation (notes, video) Post - visit post-test questionnaires exit meaning maps online posts on Twitter individual videos (bus) group audio files classroom observation worksheets video collages on Vuvox 12 interviews
    12. 12. Pre -Visit: Live communication between institutions • Logistics – MoL trial twitter account @MoLtrial – Social Media Manager at the MoL in Q&A – students in school’s ICT suite – #MoLtrial • Objectives: –introduce the students into new forms of communication with the museum/new channels of communication (i.e. YouTube, Website, Twitter) –achieve a gradual familiarisation of the participants with the Museum of London –prime the students for the museum experience 12
    13. 13. Pre -Visit: Live communication between institutions 13
    14. 14. Pre -Visit: What do the participants say? Interviews (n=7 students) Q: What did you think of our communication with the museum curator over Twitter before the visit? Preparation for the visit “I thought it was really good, because, you haven’t been there before and you get to ask questions about what is it like, what is it gonna teach us, and he answered back to us straight away. So I thought that was a good idea, coz you get to know about the museum before you get there and so you know what you like, going to learn, sort of what is going to be like...” [interview, Maria] 14
    15. 15. Pre -Visit: What do the participants say? ‘Bringing an expert’ in the classroom “ good to have contact with someone of higher knowledge and not just the teacher’s opinion...It’s good to see someone else, not random, but someone else that knows their subject perfectly and see their views on what you’ve said” [interview, Kevin] “He could give you the points first hand, he knows what it is, he works for the museum [...] he knew what he was talking about [...]” [interview, Neil] 15
    16. 16. Pre -Visit: What do the participants say? Preference for synchronous type of communication “The essence is that museums are big and like, they are unapproachable, while Twitter it made them more approachable and like friendly [...] Twitter made it a bit more like approachable and like...and it was easy to ask stuff [...] If it was just, like, email, then I"d have thought a bit, know when you are emailing someone, but it"s not instant messaging or anything, so it"s like...kind of thing that you are talking to a wall sometimes...” [interview, Nana] 16
    17. 17. Pre -Visit: What do the participants say? Teacher ‘interesting’, ‘different’, ‘useful’ and ‘really valuable’ “it was a really good introduction to them [students] going there [museum]” “They found it exciting because it was live...they were doing it at the same time and they were able to talk to someone who wasn"t there (...) than just having me there talking to them! 17
    18. 18. Visit: Museum of London • Visit Logistics – 8 groups in threes/fours – worksheet – recorder with a microphone – iPhones (3G/3GS) – Twitter/TweetDeck and specific hashtags • Learning Objectives: – Investigate an inquiry – Select and interpret objects – Communicate knowledge and understanding to an audience 18
    19. 19. 19 Charitonos, Koula; Blake, Canan; Scanlon, Eileen and Jones, Ann (2012). Museum learning via social and mobile technologies: (How) can online interactions enhance the visitor experience? British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(5) pp. 802–819.
    20. 20. Visit: Interview Data Past visits “Normally when you go to museums, you just go to the museum, go around and you’re thinking ‘it’s boring’ and spend so little time in each place is, like, really felt puzzled...” (Neil) “ It was boring, really boring...we didn’t have much freedom, you were not allowed to go anywhere, to touch anything, to interact...” (Sara) This visit “ was a lot more enjoyable because it was really focused and you could actually learn about something...” (Neil) “...compared to this museum you could learn in your own pace and you own way, more personal learning...and it was good to get your point across...” (Sara) 20 “[...]We were really into it...with that everyone stayed on target...” (Maria)
    21. 21. Visit: Interview Data • (Invisible) Interaction among participants “when we saw the tweet about the carriage...we wanted to go and find it!” (Kevin) 18
    22. 22. Visit: Interview Data • (Invisible) Interaction among participants “You know about the Black Panther? Cos when we were at the museum I tried to find it, I couldn’t find it...and then I saw the pictures and ‘Ohhhh, that’s what it is!’ So, then I learnt about this thing” (Nana) 19
    23. 23. Visit: Interview Data • creation of an ‘opinion space “you answered some things on iPhone and other people got to read it, so they would (faithful) your opinion and (faithful) the difference... (Maria) “I like that...cos you go to see other people’s opinions...I mean, like, if you look at something, as I look at something, I see different things, so you can see how they interpret it.” (Nana) “...some people don’t have the confidence to put the hand up and talk about what they’ve seen. With the technology...I saw a lot of people write down some really good ideas and maybe the use of technology could help them get their point across” (Sara) 21
    24. 24. Visit: Interview Data • creation of an ‘inter-connected space’ [..] I like the fact that you were staying in touch with everyone, even though they We were in groups, but I was feeling connected with other groups, so we were all were not there...People tweeting about what they were seeing and you kinda know what is there, without being there...”(Nana) sharing ideas over internet...we were really into it...” (Maria) 22
    25. 25. Visit: Interview Data • ‘archival’ space “Without technology you wouldn’t have remembered it and looking back at them when you can” (Sara) 23
    26. 26. Visit: Interview Data • Q. “Looking back at the tweets, do you see any value having them? • “Yeah, you see a lot of people what they thought about different things and some bits are just comments on what other people have put, but a lot of [name of a student] were very detailed as well, and it really, I think that helped me to go and find the places [...] I think at one point the people were just saying, like, especially with the carriage, they didn’t really READ [emphasizes] the information that was on the [part of it, label?] they were just putting “Oh, look there’s a carriage”.But I think, like, other people were like “Oh, no, no, no, actually if you read it it says this and then “Oh, then I’ll go and look at that again [...]” 20 26
    27. 27. Interview Data “I remember we split into groups of three and we were going around and we were looking at different artefacts in the museum...and putting on twitter about what we thought and where it would be for other people to (comment and come and look), what we thought it would be interesting and emmm...what we thought other people would be interested in” [Interview, Kevin asked to recall the visit ] 27
    28. 28. Interview Data • Q. ‘Has the use of technologies made you feel any differently or strongly about looking at objects?’ • “Yes, it’s made me a look at something a lot differently. I think it made me read more of the [labels] that go with it and more of what was around [...] You see something else in the corner of your eye and it will make you go ‘Oh, I could see something good out there and I could put it on twitter and then it will (out of sudden) make you read more around the museum...” 28
    29. 29. Interview Data • Do you think you behaved differently during this visit than you normally behave in school visits? • “I think we did, because we were trying to think of things we could put up on Twitter [...] we were trying to think of what we could put on and we couldn’t think of what we wanted to say [...]” 29
    30. 30. Findings • Social and mobile technologies may be used in school visits: • for bringing ‘experts’ in the classroom • for collecting questions and customising a trip • for engaging students to participate and share their experiences • for facilitating interaction and negotiation of meaning • for enhancing the social dynamics of the visit and creating a collective experience • for documenting, archiving and extending the experience beyond settings and groups • for enjoying the visit 24
    31. 31. Findings • Perceived aim of visit: finding objects that are interesting and appealing to other students - acknowledgement of an audience • Popular activity: Posing by exhibits and taking pictures • Selections based on: personal interests; prior-knowledge; serendipitous browsing; the social environment; distributing content • Use of tweets and pictures to resource and communicate their meaning making in this trip 24 31
    32. 32. Reflection • How effective user-generated content is for museum learning? How young people can engage with it effectively and efficiently, so that quality content – and its curation – becomes a valuable resource? • How does this shift in learning practices for students (e.g. creating, sharing and curating multimodal content, performing to an audience, and peerreviewing) bring new ways to ‘read’ and interpret objects into play? • Technologies should not be introduced to a learning space without adequate attention paid to how users shape practices associated with them • Museum learning needs to function and integrate young people’s increasingly visual, not text based, digital environments and practices. • Opt for applications that students are familiar with and may become ubiquitous part of the setting for the primacy of the object and aesthetic 31 32 encounter to be preserved
    33. 33. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! @ch_koula 33