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Using mobile technology to share learning experiences in museums

Conference contribution
Authors Alexandra Weilenmann
Thomas Hillman
Published in Next Generation Learning
Publication year 2012
Published at The Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction, and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society (LinCS)
Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Language en
Subject categories Pedagogy, Sociology


The newest generation of mobile technologies offers new ways of sharing and experiencing museum visits. In this presentation, we address ‘new generations’ in two senses of the term: new generations of technology and new generations of people, specifically ‘digital natives’. With the advent of the smartphone, features like cameras and always-on wireless networking make it possible to take photographs, capture video and record sound. This content can then be shared immediately over the Internet and published on services such as YouTube, allowing experiences to be shared regardless of physical location. Such technologies have now been widely adopted by younger generations and, as such, provide new challenges and opportunities for learning. In this presentation, we focus on a particular informal learning environment, museums and science centers, where young visitors often rely on mobile technologies to share their experiences. We argue that the newest generation of mobile technologies broadens the ways that informal educational settings such as museums are experienced by new generations of learners. Based on ongoing design-oriented ethnographic fieldwork in museums and science centers, this presentation draws on a project that investigates the ways new mobile technologies are currently used in these settings in order to understand their potential and challenges. The presentation will examine ways that museum visitors broaden and share their experiences of exhibitions by using the newest generation of mobile technologies. In particular, the practice of sharing video recorded within a museum, both in real-time with co-visitors and asynchronously through the Internet will be discussed. Through examination of observational video of visitor practices inside exhibitions, visitor-produced video and visitor contributions to video sharing sites such as YouTube, the findings reveal changed and expanded museum experiences. These new generations of technology create challenges but also the opportunity for new forms of educational activity that incorporate them while being sensitive to the emerging ways that young people document and share their experiences.

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