Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Blended Mobile Learning Environment for Museum Learning

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Blended Mobile Learning Environment for Museum Learning

Article excerpt

Introduction

Applying mobile technologies to museum learning

The use of mobile devices for informal learning has aroused attention from researchers in the field of educational technology (Collins, Mulholland, & Zdrahal, 2009; Sung, Chang, Hou, & Chen, 2010b). With the development of Internet and mobile technology, research on mobile learning has gradually gained more and more attention (Kinshuk et al., 2013). Wu et al. (2012) conducted a meta-analysis of 164 studies in mobile learning which were undertook during a period of 10 years and discovered that most topics of the mobile learning studies were currently based on the learning effectiveness and the evaluation of systems. However, in terms of the research on mobile devices assisted informal learning, besides evaluating mobile systems and the learning effectiveness, the issue of how to propose a suitable mobile learning mode and further analyze the learners' behavioral patterns based on the informal learning activity in a specific situation (e.g., visiting time, visiting place, and other learning resources) is worth a deep exploration. Museum learning is an important research topic in the field of informal learning. Currently, research on technology-assisted museum learning focuses on developing a learner-centered method and applying technology to assist learners in exploring and learning in a museum (Wishart & Triggs, 2010). There have been numerous studies of the advantages of using mobile devices as supplemental learning aids in a museum setting (e.g., Sung et al., 2010a; 2010b; Vavoula et al., 2009; Collins, Mulholland, & Zdrahal, 2009). For example, Collins et al. (2009) used the text-messaging functionality of cell phones to assist learners in observing exhibits. Sung et al. (2010b) developed a mobile guide system that provided historical narratives as backgrounds for the exhibits. However, some studies have also found that using mobile devices to support museum learning has limitations. First, in terms of the interactions between learners and exhibits, the use of mobile devices easily compels learners to spend more time familiarizing themselves with the device interface or operating the device during the museum visit, constraining deep interactions between learners and exhibits and preventing learners from focusing on learning through the process of continuously observing the exhibits (e.g., Mantyjarvi et al., 2006; Semper & Spasojevic 2002; Hsi 2003; Klopfer et al., 2005; Reynolds et al., 2010). Based on the limitations of interactions between learners and exhibits, applying the theoretical foundations of learner-centered problem-based learning (PBL) to allow learners to solve problems or tasks only through searching for information, exploring and analyzing exhibits can support interactions between learners and exhibits and the construction of knowledge (Sung et al., 2010a). Many researchers have proposed the use of a mobile guide combined with problem solving tasks (e.g., Kwak 2004; Klopfer et al., 2005; Sung et al., 2010a; Vavoula et al., 2009). For example, Chicago History Museum's mobile guide system provided treasure-hunt tasks for learners to use while solving problems (Kwak, 2004); Sung et al. (2010a) reported that the guide mode combined with a problem-solving strategy helped promote interactions between peers and between learners and exhibits. However, even though problem-solving tasks were used in this case, the lack of time a learner is given to familiarize himself or herself with the device interface constrains the learner's concentration on and interaction with the exhibits. In terms of knowledge acquisition from on-site exhibits, when learners use mobile devices in a physical environment, they need to pay attention to the information on the device and the physical objects simultaneously, which may cause cognitive overload (Liu, Lin, Tsai & Pass, 2012). During museum visits, learners may fail to understand the exhibits deeply because of the abundance of exhibits and time limitations leading to information overload (Bitgood, 2009). …

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