Mobile Devices for Learning on Excursion

Mobile Devices for Learning on Excursion

Mobile devices have great potential to transform the excursion experience of students, making it more relevant, personalised and richly informative.  Traditional museums are sometimes limited to panels and labels for providing information and context to their collections, while outdoor museums, like Sovereign Hill, are sometimes limited by the absence of explicit information on panels and labels.  While museums are engaging in innovative and enriching interpretation techniques on top of this, mobile devices offer a broader, and simultaneously more explicit, interpretation experience.

There are many museums that are starting to use mobile applications as a means of engaging with audiences in their museums.  I wrote about some of those I used overseas last year.  The Australian Museum regularly blogs about their experience developing mobile (and web) applications.  They provide interesting insights for those working in the sector.  Zoos Victoria recently developed their Act Wild application (and website) that can be used onsite, but also extends their conservation message beyond a visit with action-steps and shopping recommendations.

However, the development of mobile applications aren’t necessarily needed.  There are many ways museums can engage with learners through mobile devices.  A mobile-friendly website is a good start to allow those using mobile devices access to information while in the museum.  But equally, it is very valuable for museums to encourage and support the use of mobile devices for exploration, information collection, research and reflection by students on excursion in their museum.  Students can use mobile applications to find out more about what they are looking at, to collect information for use back in the classroom, to collate and demonstrate what they have learnt and engage with other learners and experts about the collection they are viewing.

Viewing museums through mobile devices

Last week at Sovereign Hill, Manor Lakes P-12 College’s Year 6 cohort visited us as part of a iPad trial.  The students and teachers, savvy iPad uses who are part of a 1:1 iPad program at their school, came to explore Sovereign Hill with their iPads and complete activities using their choice of applications on their iPads.  The aim of the trial is to explore how we, the Education department at Sovereign Hill, can support learners with mobile devices who are visiting our museum.  We want to better understand how they intuitively use their devices, what applications their choose and how they explore the museum thats different from a student without an iPad.

It was an exciting day, although very rushed.  Unfortunately the students didn’t have more time to explore and play with their iPads in the space.  However, I am still excited about seeing what they produce.  We will be visiting the school next term so the students can show their work and also provide us with feedback on their experience.

Corrie Barclay, the iPad program coordinator at Manor Lakes, wrote about their experience on their iPads for Learning Blog.  There will be more updates to come…

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