Teens want interactive technology in museums, study finds
New research from the Institute of Interactive Technology (ITI) in Portugal has revealed that teenagers are not huge fans of museums but enjoy interactive technology during their visits. Working with the Funchal Museum of Natural History, the team conducted participatory design sessions with 155 teenagers aged 15 to 19, to better understand what makes for a great museum experience. great for them.
The results showed that adolescents were very excited about interactive technology. Based on feedback, ITI built two different interactive mobile experiences, one based on gameplay and one based on narrative. The team found that while most teenagers preferred the story-based approach, those with a more competitive approach were more involved in game-based approaches. Research shows that gamification and storytelling are closely related, and teenagers are drawn to becoming protagonists in an exciting adventure.
Over time, museums moved from simply displaying artifacts to actively interacting with visitors. Extensive debates and research have been developed to transform museums into visitor-centric institutions that consider the needs and desires of visitors when organizing and displaying exhibitions .
However, museum visitors have a wide range of needs, ages, cultural backgrounds, financial situations, education levels, etc., which makes it difficult to have a one-size-fits-all strategy. For that reason, museums have been conducting research to better interact with younger audiences, implementing more and more technological features in their spaces.
“We have identified a lack of research related to museum content that is consistent with Teenager in the field of Interaction Design,” said Vanessa Cesário, a doctoral researcher in Digital Media, with a focus on audience interaction research in museums. ) and teaches Technology and Society courses at the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) in Portugal.She collaborates with the Funchal Museum of Natural History to research how the Museum can appeal to young people well. rather, a work supervised by Valentina Nisi, Professor and Researcher at ITI.
“We wanted teenagers to help us understand how great the museum experience is for them, which led us to conduct participatory design sessions with 155 volunteers aged 15 to 19 ,” She added. The goal was to develop a mobile application to complement the museum visit. As teenagers make extensive use of technology, it becomes clear that the solution to boosting their participation in museums must be technology-based.
“The Funchal Museum of Natural History cannot ignore the technological tools that teenagers use to access information,” said Ricardo Araújo, Director of the Museum. “We want to meet the expectations of new generations by using technology to impart knowledge, moving from the traditional exhibits of another era.” Both the researcher and the museum staff agree on a strategy for studying this issue.
Teenagers don’t go to museums
The first design workshops led to the concepts of interactive mobile experiences for the Funchal Museum of Natural History. “At this point, adolescents are already part of the study. They are the informants from which we collect data about their preferences,” Vanessa said.
It is clear that during these sessions, teenagers are not fans of museums. On the one hand, our participants perceived museums as boring places. On the other hand, they were quite excited to have interactive technology guide them through the museum’s exhibits, the researcher said. treasure”.
She then categorized teen input into two themes: game mechanics and narrative. Most of the groups suggested the gamification experience as what they wanted to experience in the museum. A small section focused on history, more focused on building the adventure plot. However, the museums are not yet run by their visitors. They missed the contribution of a fundamental part of the puzzle.
What do museum curators have to say?
Vanessa also contacted Cultural Management students—the curators of the future—ask them to design an experience geared towards the interests of teenagers. She compared the recommendations of youth and future curators to assess whether the following suggestions are prepared to create interesting and meaningful museum experiences for young people. Are not.
“The people in charge of the future believe that the key to an enjoyable experience for youth is through storytelling and narrative. On the other hand, teenagers find the combination of game mechanics to be the most engaging aspect of a museum visit,” Vanessa said.
Game versus story
Based on feedback from teens and curators, the Interactive Institute of Technology built two different interactive mobile experiences for use at the Funchal Museum of Natural History. “We’ve created two prototypes, one based on the game and one based on the story. The first is a location-based game that guides visitors throughout the Museum by helping a character beg for light. In the second visit, visitors must explore the museum to further unlock more story pieces,” Vanessa Cesário said.
She and her team studied whether teenagers’ personalities influenced their engagement levels when using the two apps. They found that adolescents who are motivated by competition often prefer a game-oriented approach. Those who take the time to understand the experience and marvel at the details want both systems. Finally, teens who were willing to listen and were intrigued by the plot as well as those who showed signs of anxiety and worry about their performance preferred the story-based approach. In summary, most teenagers prefer a story, with the exception of the most competitive ones, who interact more with game-based methods.
The research project has come to its final stage from the knowledge gathered for many years. “Our studies show that gamification and storytelling are closely related. Teens especially enjoy being the protagonist in an exciting adventure and an engaging and emotional journey. contact can enhance their engagement with museum experience,” Vanessa said.
People change over time. Not just people but the way we eat, the way we work, the music we listen to, and even the way we connect with our surroundings. It is natural that the new generations want to feel heard and experience the culture in the way that they enjoy the most. Trick seems to include them in the process and bring museums to the 21st century.
Vanessa Cesário et al., Designing with Youth: A Youth Perspective on Enhancing the Mobile Museum Experience, International journal of children’s computer interaction (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.ijcci.2022.100454
Vanessa Cesário et al, Natural History Museum Experience: Memories of Carvalhal Palace—The Turning Point, Interactive Storytelling (2020). DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-62516-0_31
Vanessa Cesário et al., Teenage visitor experiences: A classification of behavioral dynamics in museums, Proceedings of the CHI 2020 Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems (2020). DOI: 10.1145/331381.3376334
Vanessa Cesário et al., Memory of the Carvalhal Palace: Haunted Encounters, A Teenage Museum Experience, Human-Computer Interaction—INTERACT 2019 (2019). DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-29390-1_36
Valentina Nisi et al, Augmented Reality Museum’s Digital Native Game: Haunted Encounters in Carvalhal Palace, Entertaining computer and serious game (2019). DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-34644-7_3
Vanessa Cesário, Principles of Combining Storytelling and Gamification, Extended Summary of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems (2019). DOI: 10.1145/3290607.3308462
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