AbstractThe objective for this thesis was to study how the implementation of digital media and tablet computer technology on a school visit to the museum changes the premises of being a visitor to the museum. Traditionally, museum learning focus on knowledge transfer, and attempting to find its role in the contemporary society, museums open their archives with the wish for a more user-oriented museum. Related to the ongoing transformation in museum pedagogic Norwegian Museum of Science, Technology and Medicine and Norwegian Museum of Telecommunication joined forces to test out the genre of digital storytelling as a part of the museum programs offered to visiting schools. This initiative emerges out ICT developments and of societal expectations and the museum institutions interests in developing platforms for communication and models for cooperation with schools. The project was funded by the Cultural Council of Norway and has been developed in cooperation with the University of Oslo and Intermedia. Under the slogan Fast Forward Digital Stories these institutions wanted to assess whether it is possible to employ and offer the genre digital storytelling as part of a learning activity during a one day museum visit in the museum environment.
Theoretical frameworkResent debates regarding participation and democratic initiatives in education and museum learning and adolescents life has drawn the attention to the concept of agency and individual and collective capacities to make a difference. My analysis is framed in the concept of agency to look at how digital media and digital storytelling production as part of the learning activities during a museum visit foster the development of student agency. Agency is a capacity situated in the different contexts humans work and thrive in, and young people’s lives is connected to multiple practices and so research on all of these contexts are relevant. This study is positioned in a socio-cultural perspective on learning with a holistic view on learning. Learning in the museum is being referred to as free-choice learning instead of informal learning, to illustrate what it is as opposed to what it is not (formal learning) (Falk & Dierking, 2000). Museum visits with no-choice or only free-choice has shown less prosperous learning outcomes than a limited choice visit to a museum (Bamberger & Tal, 2007), and I also frame my analysis within this research. The overall research question which guided the analysis of the empirical data was: In what ways does the student’s use of tablet computer technologies support their agentive learning in the museum?
Method This thesis is based on a qualitative case study by conducting semi-structured video observations and interaction analysis. The museum invited a numerous of random schools in Norway to participate and three pilot tests were executed in the spring of 2012. I analysed two of these pilot tests after having video recorded two groups of eight grade students participating in the Fast Forward pilot. I analyzed the observation videos within the framework of interactional analysis, the concept of agency and the concept of free-choice learning, and in addition the idea of a limited-choice museum visit.
Results and conclusions A visit to the museum features the properties of the concepts of free-choice learning, however exhibition design and museums educator instructions is of great importance to what extent the visitor pursue their agentive possibilities. My analysis of the data material indicates new visitor and museum educator roles, and the implementation of digital media and tablet computer technology in the learning activities changes the condition for being a visitor to the museum. Digital media and tablet computer technology is a relatively new intervention in the educational context of museum learning and I argue therefore that every interactional dimension in the Fast Forward pilot is of equal interest. However, some of the main findings is related to how the tablet computer technology and the production of digital storytelling encourage collaboration, and further how the Fast Forward pilot and the museum educators supported the students as agentive learners. The production of digital stories with the use of tablet computers as a camera and as an editing tool provided the students with possibilities to represent the museum objects and archive in the frame of their own everyday and personal lives. The students use of tablet computers raise questions of digital technologies which include functions of re-presentation consequently may include new forms of reflections on museum objects, that go beyond earlier observational learning and that needs to be studied along new paths and perspectives (Stuedahl & Kise, 2013). When the museum present photography and digital media productions as a learning activity the principle of being a visitor to the museum is altered, and possibilities for expanding students multiliteracies. In interactions with each other, with the archive material, the museum artefacts and the museum educators the students collected information, and combined this information with their personal experiences and prior knowledge in their production practice. This shift in the authoritarian voice of the museum is perhaps a move towards a more democratic museum (Hein, 2012), and as such possibilities for a more democratic education.