IPES Museum Learning Project Update: User Study

Since the last update, we’ve completed the first iteration of the IPES Museum Learning Project prototype and deployed it at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) in an observational user study (http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/). The goal of this project is to explore the ways that users interact with the prototype to discover ways to make a better interactive exhibit for science museum contexts. We planned an observational user study that lasted 3 days during the month of March (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) to gather gesture data and interaction data from museum visitors. Our planning included facilitating the transport of the touch table from our lab to the museum, organizing a coding sheet to efficiently collect data, and practicing coding gesture data in preparation for actual museum interaction. From the study, we hoped to learn more about general interactions from museum visitors and specifically, discover patterns that support further exploration of the content. Overall, the study was successful and we collected valuable data that we will use to formulate design insights and plans for the next iteration of the prototype. We observed interesting patterns at the museum as well, such as differences between children’s and adults’ interactions. Dr. Stofer from the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication has also shared some insights from our study in her blog: http://kastofer.wordpress.com/.

I am a 2nd year Computer Science student at the University of Florida. I am thoroughly enjoying being able to work on the prototype and program features and gestures that will directly influence the way that users interact with the exhibit content. I have learned a lot about designing an observational study, and I believe this experience will benefit for future work in any field.