This summer term we are hoping to offer a new session around evolution, adaptation and variation as part of our Real World Science offer. Of course, the first thing that popped into my mind was to use the Animal Life galleries at the Museum, which are full of amazing specimens which people normally wouldn’t see in the wild.
Our sessions are usually facilitated by a staff member, but I wanted something a bit different. I wanted to devise a more self directed learning experience. I got to thinking about this and how we could encourage students to take control of their own learning using our gallery spaces. The obvious response would be to set up a self guided tour, but I wanted something a little more dynamic than a traditional paper based museum trail.
Last July, during our Tomb Team Summer School programme we had the opportunity to work with the City Learning Centre at Abraham Moss to use a new technology called OOKL to help the participants keep an online diary of their experiences at the Museum. OOKL is the use of mobile phones to capture images, sounds and thoughts via text created by visitors about their experience in the museum. Users can record their own thoughts using the phones and then can access them online using the OOKL website.
But the really neat thing about OOKL is that it allows a two way interaction. The Museum is also able to use OOKL to select interesting objects in collection and create profiles on these objects. Using this capability, we would be able to set up a museum tour using the OOKL phones, where participants can learn about objects in the gallery in a more fun and interactive than a traditional paper trail.
In any case- we need to test the idea. The first thing I learned when I started a career in museums and galleries is that visitors need interactions that are familiar to encourage learning. That is- interactives in a gallery do not need to be high tech to be effective!
Working with a local secondary school are planning an activity which will test the learning outcomes of the museum tour using the OOKL phones compared to a live interpretive tour. Watch this space in April for the results!