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The role of social networking in museum learning

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Doug Clow
14 June 2011

Presentation at CALRG Conference 2011, Koula Charitonos, Canan Blake, Ann Jones, Eileen Scanlon

Extra content

Koula presents her PhD work

Project in museum context, will present, interested in feedback.

Social networking - Facebook, MySpace, Twitter - probably used it. Not using tools in ground-breaking ways, but all have first-hand experience of them.

Why museums? Can be engaging spaces, but can be difficult, intellectual, boring. If engage people, young people, in meaningful participatory activity, improves meaning-making.

Museums embracing social media. Mainly as marketing channels, or public relations - question-and-answer stuff. 

Much promise and opportunity.

School visits - key is interaction with authentic artifacts. Many roles and rationales, and key elements of how visits can be positively influenced. Ownership and sharing important - a role for social tools.

Here social tools used to support and stimulate interaction. Based on Contextual Model of Learning (Falk & Dierking, 2000). Time an important contextual factor.

RQs about using social media tools to create participatory learning activities.

Visit to Musuem of London - Year 9 History, KS3. Pre- and post-visit activities.

Selected because theme in galleries linked to KS3 history Scheme of Work. Lots of digital infrastructure - wifi, equipment, presence on main social media sites, and provision of learning with digital technologies. Thinking of integrating Twitter in their formal education provision.

Twitter selected because - most popular microblogging site (1700 museums use it); research shown can be used as educational; sync/async; can be SMS -- useful if no wifi in museum.

Many data collection methods - this focused on observation, Twitter stream, interviews.

Eight groups of visitors, seven in research study. Visit each of three galleries in any order. Had to collect information to address their inquiry. Printed booklet, iPhones, Twitter and specific hashtags. Also recorder with mic to capture observations.

Were 81 tweets, classified by theme. Only 1 related to extracurricular activities. Most original. Most on task. 

Mostly posting related to the museum - good given it was teenagers on unsupervised free visit. No noise in discourse. Was appropriate use.

Timestream view makes it hard to make sense and make contribution. Also hard in data analysis. 

Represent it visually - following de Liddo and Buckingham Shum - network of posts using Compendium. Shows activity by all groups, and some connections between the groups (except one group). The Tweets appear disconnected, most connections are a direct reply - no linking back or more widely. Form monologic character, not a dialogue or contribution to each others' contribution. Doesn't show invisible interaction during the visit. Picked up during the visit by the researcher and in follow-up interviews.

Was good evidence that they were reading each others' Tweets during the visit.

Participants found it enjoyable and engaging compared to previous visits. 

Notion of technology creating opinion space with multiple opinions heard. Also inter-connected space - staying connected - 'in touch with everyone even though they were not there'. 'It's interesting' Also an 'archive' space to aid recall.

Nice video clips of feedback from learners.

Feedback welcome!

Doug: Thought of benchmarking analysis of tweets against other datasets of tweets?

Koula: Might explore the role of teach tweet, whether supporting, engaging, challenging

Rebecca: How many used Twitter before?

Koula: Two!

Rebecca: Seems typical behaviour of people new to Twitter.

Simon BS: Twitter doesn't encourage deep reflection, but have thought of feeding them back to them in the classroom later? Some knowledge-building activity, using them as note-taking in public.

Koula: Had them in front of them in the interview, asked about the value. They added more information on their meaning map. They liked this more than writing things down on paper, wasn't distracting from their experience, are very used to sending SMSes. 

Someone: Compendium map you showed - interested in the links between groups, how did you determine that?

Koula: From direct replies from a person in one group to a person in another.

Someone: Though in a group already, why tweeting to each other. But analysis of comments, fact they could share with the larger group, made a lot of sense. Presence of larger group - not reflected in the direct context. Interesting to tease out a bit more.

Doug Clow
14:08 on 14 June 2011

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