Interactives and Visitor Learning

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mika Cohen-Jones, Lecturer (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Interactives—computers and other multimedia components, physical manipulatives (including whole-body and tabletop activities), and simulations—occur in all types of museums. There is considerable interest in the nature of the learning that happens when visitors use interactives. Museum professionals have enlisted constructivist theory to support the notion that interactive elements are invaluable components of any exhibition experience, and are effective learning tools that enable active visitor engagement. Interactives are also seen as vital to sustaining institutional image and expanding institutional popularity. Despite the increasing use of interactives in exhibitions and the substantial investments being made in their design and maintenance, there is a paucity of research as to whether these constructivist assumptions are supported. There is little work exploring visitors' perceptions of specific types of interactives, or the role of interactivity in the visitor experience generally. Museum staff thus have a limited ability to make informed decisions about the level and type of interactivity that might enhance exhibition experiences. This paper describes a collaborative effort in 2001 by researchers at the Powerhouse Museum (PHM), Sydney; the Institute for Learning Innovation (the Institute), Annapolis, Maryland; and Curtin University of Technology (Curtin) and Scitech Discovery Centre (Scitech), both in Perth, Western Australia. This study investigated two aspects of interactivity: 1) visitor perceptions of interactivity in two different contexts, a museum and a science center; and 2) the types of short- and long-term learning that resulted from use of interactives in these two institutions.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2004
Museum Studies, Exhibits, Visitor Engagement, Interactivity

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