Technical Report

The Promise and Realities of the Use of Cyber Technologies for Promoting Research in Public STEM Museum Experiences

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  • Cyberlab at OSU Final Report.
  • A seven-year effort funded by the United States’ National Science Foundation and the Oregon Sea Grant College Program sought to identify and deploy in a public STEM museum setting a suite of digital tools for collecting and supporting analysis of data on the use of the setting in near real time and as evidence for in situ learning. In addition to full-museum camera coverage and data collection, five exhibit-based research platforms were developed to allow for collection of linked video, audio, and digital input (keystroke, touch screen manipulation) data at particular locations in the museum. A further effort explored the use of social media data mining tools as well as apps for research on how learners create continuity across STEM learning experiences distributed temporally and geographically. Returns on investment for research on informal learning were proven to be high with signifiant gains for researchers working with the museum and for building research partnerships with other museums and informal STEM learning environments (e.g., Maker Faires, public exhibits, tourism in marine environments), but return on investment for museum operations and programmatic advancement were relatively minor. While the project proved that a public museum can successfully employ current video-based, cyber-linked technologies to document and study learning outside of a laboratory setting, it also demonstrated that such activity is most likely beyond the budgetary and information technology capacity of most public institutions. However, the project also piloted and provided proof of concept for smaller, mobile efforts using many of the same technologies and tools in scaled-down but efficient research and evaluation efforts.
  • Keywords: Cyberlearning; Informal Learning Environments; STEM; Video-based Research
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  • This project was funded in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ESI 111474.



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