Category: Museum Learning Project

After much pilot work, the IPES/TGIL Museum Learning Project (now TIDESS, see below) has now received funding from the National Science Foundation to continue our work! We will be funded under the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program, and will be taking our work on interactive tabletop exhibits for science learning to the next level by exploring interactive spherical displays. These displays are currently made by Pufferfish Ltd., and will allow curious museum visitors to engage directly with data visualizations of Earth’s ocean and atmosphere, and more. Our goals are to continue to investigate how the touch and gesture interactions are linked with learning science content through these technology-mediated experiences.

With new funding comes a new name, more focused on the new goals of the project: TIDESS: “Touch Interaction for Data Engagement with Science on Spheres”. As before, we are collaborating with UF IFAS research Dr. Kathryn A. Stofer on the project. Stay tuned for more updates, and check out our dedicated project website here!

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In previous posts, we have talked about our observations of museum visitors interacting with Google Earth on touch-enabled large-screen displays mounted on the wall or as a tabletop. We are pleased to announce that our paper, “Gestures by Children and Adults on Touch Tables and Touch Walls in a Public Science Center,” which reports on this work, has been accepted and will appear at the upcoming ACM Interaction Design and Children conference! This paper includes our project team: me (Dr. Lisa Anthony), Dr. Kathryn A. Stofer, and undergraduate Annie Luc, as well as our collaborator from the University of Washington, Dr. Jacob O. Wobbrock. The paper compares interaction patterns between children and adults, and between the touch table and the touch wall. Here is the abstract:

Research on children’s interactions with touchscreen devices has examined small and large screens and compared interaction to adults or among children of different ages. Little work has explicitly compared interaction on different platforms, however. Large touchscreen displays can be deployed flat, as in a table, or vertically, as on a wall. While these two form factors have been studied, it is not known what differences may exist between them. We present a study of visitors to a science museum, including children and their parents, who interacted with Google Earth on either a touch table or a touch wall. We compare the types of gestures and interactions attempted on each device and find several interesting results, including: users of all ages tend to make standard touchscreen gestures on both platforms, but children were more likely than adults to try new gestures. Users were more likely to perform two-handed, multi-touch gestures on the touch wall than on the touch table. Our findings will inform the design of future interactive applications for each platform.

The camera-ready version of the paper (and our presentation slides) are available here. The conference is coming up in Manchester, UK, in late June.

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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.

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The IPES Museum Learning Project prototype has been substantially improved and almost ready for the first deployment since the last update. We are preparing to use the prototype in the Florida Museum of Natural History for an observational user study. We will be exploring the ways that users interact with the prototype to discover ways to make a better interactive exhibit. The current prototype supports the standard touchscreen gestures: tap, swipe, rotate, pinch, zoom, etc. and displays information about ocean temperatures. The current visualizations show two different types of maps: a map depicting the baseline temperature of the world (as seen below) and a map depicting the differences from baseline. We have used observations collected at the Oregon Hatfield Marine Science Center (we’d like to thank the Cyberlab project under direction of Dr. Shawn Rowe) to create this initial prototype. The goal of our observational study is to learn more about general interactions from museum visitors and specifically, discover patterns that support further exploration of the content. From these observations, we can create design insights to support optimal interaction and better learning from large-scale displays in museum contexts.

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. It will also be an exciting experience designing and running the user study, and I am looking forward to learning more about this aspect of research.

Click here for a picture of the visualization
Courtesy: NASA Earth Observations, Imagery processed in collaboration with Gene Feldman and Norman Kuring, NASA OceanColor Group.

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The IPES Museum Learning Project prototype is developing substantially since the last update. We are currently improving the prototype tabletop display to explore ways to make a great interactive exhibit. We are in the process of improving lag issues and building features such as gestures and aesthetic structures to engage the user. Continuing to use the observations collected at the Oregon Hatfield Marine Science Center, we’ve begun to define gestures that would be tested by users, such as tapping, zooming, pinching, and rotating. By adding customizable gestures, this prototype will serve as a rapid prototyping platform for trying out new interface designs. In adding new features and gestures to the prototype, it can allow for a more in-depth experience by the user and can allow for a greater analysis of the ways in which people interact with this exhibit.

I am a 2nd year Computer Science student at the University of Florida. With this new side of the project, I am getting hands on experience working with a tabletop display and programming new features on the interface, while keeping in mind the ways that users will need or want to interact with the display. It has been a great experience so far, and I am excited to continue building my skills in this aspect.

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The IPES Museum Learning Project has come along nicely since it was last written about. We are currently working on building a prototype tabletop display to explore ways to make a great interactive exhibit. We are in the process of brainstorming and building features to engage the user, with hopes of informing the user at the same time. We are using the observations collected at the Oregon Hatfield Marine Science Center as a starting point for the brainstorming, but we remain open to unique ways to interact with the tabletop. By giving users enough direction to form their own questions and explore the answer, we hope to increase user engagement and increase learning.

I am an undergraduate Computer Science student visiting the University of Florida from the University of Southern Maine. As a web developer, building a tabletop display has been an exciting experience. I have been able to translate the communication skills I learned in web development to designing a successful interface on the tabletop, while learning about the nuances of building an interactive interface.

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Last time we talked about this project [Museum Learning Blog Post], we were in the process of organizing the observational data collected from the Oregon Hatfield Marine Science Center on museum visitors interacting with touch-enabled exhibits on the touch table and touch wall. At this point, we have identified all visitor groups that we have audio interviews, video footage, demographic data, and observation notes for, as well as some groups that we have only some of the above for. The next step in the research project is to develop and apply a qualitative coding scheme to the various data-sets based on our research questions. We hope to uncover some interesting findings to help us design better touch-enabled science museum exhibits!

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Florida studying Computer Science. Now that the data aggregation process is coming to an end, I will be able to develop analysis skills to apply to the information; in particular, I am learning the techniques used in qualitatively coding interviews, and beginning to think more critically about specific gestures and actions users perform and their significance.

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The purpose of this project is to design better interactive touchscreen exhibits to support learning in a museum environment. In our current study, we are examining different interactive platforms in the Hatfield Marine Science Center to analyze museum interactions. Over the previous summer, Drs. Anthony and Stofer visited the Science Center in Oregon and gathered preliminary data of museum visitors over a one-week period. We are in the process of going through all the data collected in the form of video footage, observation notes, audio recordings, and demographic questionnaires to consolidate a high-level picture of the data in a spreadsheet format. I am currently working through the video footage to provide a spreadsheet of the necessary data in an organized format. Our next steps will be to analyze the data we collected for patterns in how people interact with the exhibits using qualitative coding methods.

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Florida studying Computer Science. Working on the IPES Museum Learning Project has been so helpful in giving me a chance to learn not only research skills but also about computer science. For example, I am learning how to best organize video data in a log format, along with developing my Microsoft Excel skills.

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This study is aimed at examining informal science learning outcomes for the general public. The IPES project will bring existing specialist-oriented visualizations to be more layperson-relevant. We are currently studying the interaction of users with table top surfaces, wall mount touch devices and spherical visualization devices (also known as digital video globes). We are also working on developing applications with an interaction data collection framework to help us better collect and study user interaction patterns

I am a graduate student at the University of Florida. Being a part of the INIT lab team has exposed me to the cutting edge technology in the field of Computer Science.I am currently working on the IPES project with developing a research application for the Microsoft Table-Top Surface and I have previously worked on the MTAGIC project with the application development on the Android Platform. As a Student Research Assistant at the INIT lab, it has not only given me the opportunity to work on different technologies but has also made me aware of the research conducts, guidelines and processes.

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