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Of BATs and APEs: Designing Interactive Tabletop Exhibits for Natural History Museums
In this talk I will present work on a project to design museum exhibits on evolution using multi-touch tabletop technology. I will discuss multiple challenges in this design space, including working with emerging interactive technology, supporting collaborative learning about evolution, and integrating our work within the broader context of natural history museums. Our design process involved multiple rounds of development and testing with an emphasis on increasing ecological validity over time. In addition to pitfalls, dead ends, and detours, I will show some of the designs that seem to be successful and present data that helps explain why. I will focus on an interactive phylogenetic tree building game that we evaluated with over 70 visitors at a well-known university natural history museum. Our results show encouraging levels of focused engagement and suggest productive collaborative learning. A more detailed analysis that visitors were able to import collaborative practices of video game play into the museum context, which seems to have contributed to the outcomes we observed.
Michael Horn's research interests center around the intersection of human-computer interaction and education with a focus on innovative and thoughtful uses of emerging technologies in learning settings. Some of Prof. Horn's recent research projects have included an investigation of multi-touch tabletops in natural history museums and the use of tangible programming languages in kindergarten classrooms and science museums.