Stephen Brown discussed evaluating learning outcomes, starting by going into the definitions and differences between “surface” and “deep” learning. I always enjoy sessions like this at MW, where there’s some good research tying together science and psychology and how it can apply to websites and education. His paper has some very interesting points on design for learning, and how important it is to “construct a scaffold that supports a range of possible learning outcomes. This complexity makes it all the more important to be able to test predictively the performance of designs before too much investment has been made.” Good stuff.
Peter Samis dove into interpretive materials for Mathew Barney: DRAWING RESTRAINT. Because Barney’s work is essentially performance, their issue was how to make the gallery experience rich without this live element. The approach was multi-pronged, covering a range of audio devices from iPods to cellphones to an audio guide. There was no clear winner in terms of preference, it seemed to boil down to personal familiarity with the various devices, but each devices gave SFMOMA different insights into their visitor’s needs and usage patterns. Visitors loved the on-demand capability of the personal devices (iPod and cellphone), moreso than the Antenna Audio device. However, Peter noted that no matter the quality and low barriers to entry, the vast majority of our users do not use technology in their visit. They finally spread their interpretive materials much more broadly, including a Learning Lounge (video), audio tour, and traditional printed material (books and wall graphics). They found that the more “passive” features continue to be the “sweet spot” for museums… And their users opt for the analog first (wall text was huge!) – he guessed this was how people were used to visiting museums? I wonder if this will change within a decade, then? Check out the online IMLS report for the rest of the findings, including their results on what seemed to work best for helping visitors approach difficult work.
David Schaller gave a nice presentation on learning styles and how one size doesn’t fit all, and especially the difference between adults and children. Don’t focus necessarily on a single learning style, but rather on making it fully rich with many points of access – again, the paper is online and looks very good. [Sorry for the sparse notes. My brain is winding down…]