Digital learning in the museum: dos & don’ts

Every year, the Rijksmuseum organises an educational symposium. In the highly representative auditorium, fellow museums and people interested are treated to a look behind the scenes. This year the central subject was so nice it made my TinQer heart jump.

Are you curious? As an art historian I love to think along about the possibilities of e-learning in the world of art. Inspired by the best practices of the Rijksmuseum and smart words of guest speakers, I want to deal with the use of mobile applications in the museum. A subject which, not entirely coincidentally, was central at the Amsterdam symposium.

With pen and paper at the ready, I was captivated by Nancy Proctor, an American curator at the Washington Smithsonian, and various Pecha Kuchas.* I describe this successful day on the basis of three inspiring statements:

‘The content is leading’

As Nancy put it so nicely: ‘Museums are platforms for storytelling.’ History will come to life if you can link objects to personal stories. Most museums know exactly which story they want to tell, ranging from a city’s history to personal biography. Technology and design are to be subservient to this story. In this context, responsive design is not an option; it is a must.

‘Never underestimate your target group’

Children love hunts; pensioners love watching. Although this sounds logical, museum experts advise against judging rashly. Do we really know our target group well? Can we surprise the target group in a positive sense?

To press this view home, a YouTube video was shown to the audience in which elderly people gave their opinion on contemporary subjects. They responded to the latest hit on Broadway, Hamilton, a musical about American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804). This sounds like something very decent and solid, but there is a catch: the whole show is produced with hip hop music, including rap and street dance.
Just have a look:

How about that? The elderly love it! Good target group research ensures that your presentation is in line with the wishes of the public. This does not require many months of analysis. With the TinQwise target group app we can find out quickly and efficiently what makes the end user happy.

‘Look beyond your field of expertise’

The audio or multimedia tour is a classic means of sending information. There is nothing wrong with that, but nowadays there are so many other possibilities. Several guest speakers called for looking beyond the world of art too. I could not agree more! I envisage many possibilities for new forms of technology.

Take Pokémon Go, for instance. The game sensation was immensely popular and introduced millions of people to augmented reality* in one go. This technology is also suitable for museums, because with a mobile device like smartphone or tablet:

This broken vase is undamaged again, the figures hidden underneath the top layer of paint smile at you again, you are spoken to by a guide of your choosing, etc.

Virtual reality* also offers many possibilities:

elderly people can visit museums (virtually) from the comfort of their home, works of art can be viewed in their original context, marriage portraits from two different collections can be shown side by side, etc.

At TinQwise, we believe that learning can also be fun. With new technologies, such as augmented or virtual reality, you can create unique learning experiences that will happily surprise your target group. Which story do you want to tell?


*Pech Kuchas are brief presentations in which 20 slides are shown for exactly 20 seconds.

*Augmented reality is a technology by which reality and the virtual world are connected. Your environment is the starting point, and a mobile device creates an additional layer.

*Virtual reality is a technology by which an environment is simulated by a computer. The user wears VR glasses to see a virtual environment. This environment is the starting point for the (learning) experience.

Like to know more?

Continue to follow the New Masters for more blogs on art & e-learning. Previously, Eva wrote about the possibilities of Location-Based Learning.

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