Family Time in Museums: Attention, Please!

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Family Time in Museums: Online or Unplugged?

At the movie theater we see repeated messages about no texting or talking—what about museums? While some museums ban personal devices, others embrace them. What does research tell us about personal devices as they affect learning? What turns these devices on or off: visitors’ ages, educational levels, learning styles? How are museum educators approaching this contested area? A learning specialist, a museum educator, and a museum technologist present diverse viewpoints, leading to a lively moderated discussion. This presentation was given by Paul Gabriel.

Moderator: Alice Parman, Independent Interpretive Planner
Presenters: Paul Gabriel, Educational Consultant/Educational Therapist, Independent
Emily Hope Dobkin, Youth Programs Manager, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History
Susan Edwards, Senior Writer/Editor, Web Group, J. Paul Getty Trust

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Family Time in Museums: Attention, Please!

  1. 1. Attention, Please! Family Time in Museums: Online or Unplugged? Western Museum Association Annual Conference 2013 Paul Gabriel, Educational Consultant
  2. 2. Our first technology that took us outside of ourselves, across time and space, was symbolic capacity: oral language, visual art, sculpture. Next came writing and other arts of agrarian civilization. Then the industrial media: the telephone, sound recording, radio, film and television. Now we have digital devices and the web… devices we can carry around with us and share all the time… like two of our first virtual technologies… oral language and our brains!
  3. 3. But in the end, all we’ve achieved rests on the first virtual technology: our brain. All enhance and stretch its potentials. All share its constraints.
  4. 4. Enables? Enhances? Technology Disables? Distracts?
  5. 5. The Binding Problem! The brain’s big black box Slow Brain Fast Brain Attention
  6. 6. Body Outside/Body Inside Hearing Gosh! Seeing Smelling Tasting Episodic Memory Touching Emotion That’s a lot! Social Dynamics Semantic Memory
  7. 7. Attention is a precious resource. It costs. It takes effort. It makes free-choice learning possible. So… Use devices to help your visitors lose themselves in your exhibits… OR LOSE THEM TO THEIR OWN DEVICES!

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