A Conceptual Framework for Smart Museum Education

Inae Kang, Kyung Hee University, South Korea, SoHyun Lee, KyungHee University , South Korea

Korean government (especially, Ministry of culture, sports, and Tourism), according to a recently growing concerns and needs to the social role and impact of museums, becomes a leading force to bring out the paradigmatic shift in the purpose and role of museum and also in working practices. Technology-enabled museum learning is one of the new challenges and tasks of museums in accordance with the government policies. The best known technological devices are mobile devices such as cellular (mobile ) phones, tablet computers, and smart pads (e.g., iPAD). Such devices have been described and promoted as a key component to practice innovative learning approach called ‘Smart learning’ which is a term similar to or exchangeable with mobile learning. The smart learning in museum, in short, ‘smart museum’, has been practiced in Korea under governmental sponsorship called “ Museum: Humanities on road” since 2013. Nation-widely spread 10 museums in 2013 and 25 museums in 2014 were the participants of the Smart learning project with various depth and breadth in using smart technologies and understanding smart museum education. This study, in this context, aimed to examine what types of smart museum learning has been practiced and what characteristics of learning were noticed among the smart museums, hence eventually generating a framework of smart museum learning. For the purpose, this study conducted interviews with educators and the participant students of the smart museums, while analyzing their smart learning programs by participant observation as well. The results of this study showed a wide range of practices based upon diverse understanding and approaches to smart museum education, which can be summarized as four categories ofthe smart museum learning: ① development of museum’s own app, ② device-centered hands-on practices,③ use of smart museum learning solution, and ④ a convergent model of smart technologies and pedagogical approaches.

Keywords: museum smart learning, museum mobile learning, a framework of museum smart learning, smart learning, mobile learning, iPAD-based learning

1. Introduction

Today we live in a ‘smart’ world. Our daily lives are surrounded by ‘smart’ devices, and we spend most of our time with them. We can search for information that we want to know, and access the Internet anytime and anywhere. Owing to the development of smart devices and digital technologies, life has become more convenient and intelligent. Such digital technology has had an influence not only on the social and economic sectors, but also on the education sectors, which leads to the educational adoption of various digital technologies. Museums as well have made efforts to utilize digital technology for museum learning, especially mobile technology for mobile museum learning (Collins et al., 2009; Hou et al., 2014; Sung et al., 2010a; 2010b; Vavoula et al., 2009; Woffs, 2013). Most established museums have already used various apps and SMS on mobile devices (Vavoula et al., 2009; Collins et al., 2009), while integrating with virtual museums (Dede et al., 2004; Kang & Seul, 2010; Kang & Seol, 2010).

Currently in Korea, smart museum education that is exchangeable with the term ‘mobile museum learning’ is emphasized by a government sponsorship program called “Humanities on the Road” as ways for revitalizing museum education (Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, 2012, 2013, 2014). The “Humanities on Road” Project for museums (http://www.museumonroad.org/), started in 2013, aims for a cultural renaissance by supporting humanity spirit, creativity and imagination for Korean youth. Fully utilizing the physical and human resources of museums, it also aims at making a quantum leap in the educational functions and roles of museum (Hawkey, 2004; Kang & Seol, 2010; Korea Private Museum Association, 2013). Smart museum learning combined with mobile technologies enables museum education to overcome time and spatial restrictions, thereby expanding the scope and subjects of education (Collins et al., 2009; Hou et al., 2014; Sung et al., 2010a; 2010b; Vavoula et al., 2009).

In this context, this study aims to examine and analyze the status quo of smart museum learning in Korea, focusing only on the smart museum programs participating in the government policy project titled “Humanities on Road.” For the purpose, this study first conducted a literature review of mobile museum learning both overseas and in Korea, which will be the basis for building the conceptual framework for smart museum learning. Second, based on the conceptual framework, it attempted to analyze and examine the status quo of smart museum learning being practiced in Korea, along with brief suggestions for future directions to pursue.

2. Smart Museum Learning

Smart learning and mobile learning

The term ‘smart learning’ began to be used by scholars in 2010. Along with the broad distribution of the mobile Internet and the expansion of smart devices (Lim et al., 2013). Since 2011, educational perspectives have been greatly reflected in defining the concept of smart learning. Especially in Korea, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MEST, hereafter) had a leading role in initiating ‘smart learning in schools’ as an innovative school reform policy. Due to diverse, disorganized, and unclear definitions of smart learning among many scholars and practitioners, MEST provided clear direction and educational implications for smart learning using the letters of the word ‘SMART’, such as Self-directed, Motivated, Adaptive, Resource-enriched, and Technology-embedded teaching and learning activities (Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, 2011). Kang et al. (2012), who also suggested the conceptual principles of smart learning, recently defined smart learning as “Learning activities that maximize interaction and engagement by utilizing smart devices and social media”(p.290). They furthered “. . . fusion of formal and informal learning, extension of learning due to technological features connecting learning and life seamlessly, i.e., always-on condition”. The concept of smart learning according to Kang et al. (2012), then, while emphasizing well-balanced integration of technology with pedagogy, expanded the intervention of diverse technologies into every aspect of our lives for a more effective, efficient, comfortable environment for living including learning as well.

Mobile learning, on the other hand, starts from the features of mobile technologies, i.e., mobile devices with handheld portable sizes and equipped with context-aware technology (eLearning Guild 360 Mobile Learning Research Report 2007). Kukulsaka & Traxler (2005) defined mobile learning as learning with a pocket-sized, cutting-edge digital telecommunication device such as a cellular phone, smartphone, palm top, tablet PC, PDA, MP3 player, and portable DVD player. Although mobile learning was possible even before the wireless Internet was generally used, at that time, users had to download content in advance, and upload it to their devices in person, which was very inconvenient. As the wireless Internet has become widely used, ‘mobile learning’ beyond space and time has been realized in a real sense, where the boundary between downloading and streaming becomes obscure.

As such, mobile learning puts more importance on the features of digital technology, mobile devices, while smart learning, notwithstanding mainly dealing with mobile technologies or mobile devices as a mediating tool for interaction and communication, includes more attention to ‘efficient, effective and convenient’ ways of living using digital technologies in every aspect of living. In this sense, smart learning seems to put more attention and concern for ‘efficiency and effectiveness’ in learning for students by emphasizing pedagogical approaches over technological use. But it is generally assumed that mobile and smart learning, respectively, are terms to be exchangeable.

Characteristics of smart learning

Smart learning is not a new methodology. It is a learning method based on the characteristics of mobile learning, and tries to expand by focusing more on educational utilization and effects. The characteristics of mobile learning are regarded as accessibility to information through wireless technology and mobile devices, and participation in educational utilization through communicating with others (Kukulsaka & Traxler, 2005). Based on such characteristics, smart learning complemented not only the technical aspects of utilizing devices but also the instructional methods. Smart learning enables individualized self-directive learning, can adjust learning content according to the level and characteristics of learners, and affect each other between an individual learner and a team through interaction (Mccomb & Vakili, 2005). Kang et al. (2012) suggested five characteristics of smart learning: sociality, mobility (always-on), adaptability, reality, and technology-based. Social learning, focusing on ‘collaborative learning’, ‘interaction’, and ‘formation of relationship,’ regards its most important characteristics as “sharing” and “participation”, which are also the characteristics of Web 2.0. The key characteristics include an always-on learning environment anytime and anywhere; customized adaptive learning according to individual experience, knowledge, and interests based on location-based or context-aware technology; relation to the real life of learners; and being a tool to support the learning of learners with technology-based smart devices and multi-platform or cloudy computing-based infrastructure.

Among mobile learning methods, the utilization of smart devices and social media maximizes interaction in learning. A learning environment equipped with the fusion of formal and informal learning, strengthened substantiality, extension of learning, and various application-based learning activities has emerged for smart museum learning (Kang et al., 2012; The Korean Private Museum Association, 2013).

Conceptual framework of smart learning in a museum

Mobile learning stimulates more interests of visitors by the development of Internet and mobile technology in the museum learning sector. Lots of studies have suggested various mobile learning programs based on a museum environment (Collins et al., 2009; Hsi, 2002; Schultz, 2013; Sung et al., 2010b; Wishart & Triggs, 2010).

Mobile devices and technology utilization aspects

There have been studies regarding mobile devices used as supplementary learning tools in museum learning (Collins et al., 2009; Sung et al., 2010b; Wishart & Triggs, 2010). Various approaches were used for the studies. The first category involved studies regarding a mobile guide system that the museum created, and the use of technologies such as QR codes, NFC, and RFID needed to provide relevant information related to exhibition materials in various forms (audio, video, text, image, etc.) (Chen & Huang, 2012; Haworth & Williams, 2012; Hsi, 2002; Schultz, 2013; Sung et al., 2010b;). For example, Chen & Huang (2012) provided exhibition information with an RFID tag attached to exhibits to suggest and solve the quiz. Schultz (2013) provided video materials on the works and the artists through QR codes connected to a blog where audiences post their opinions on the works. Sung et al. (2010b) developed a mobile guide system that provides narration on the historical background of the exhibits.

The second category for mobile learning in a museum are the studies that use applications to support more profound and various learning methods (Cahill et al., 2011; Chen & Huang, 2012; Hsi, 2002; Vavoula et al., 2009). For example, a science museum in San Francisco not only provides information but also takes photos and images through a mobile guide (Hsi, 2002). Halpern et al. (2011) performed problem-solving activities utilizing the photo-taking and note-taking applications of the iPhone. They include not only providing information on exhibits in a museum, but also increasing interaction with audiences.

The next category is the studies regarding the activities of learning available anytime anywhere, the interaction between exhibits and a learner, or between learners, and beyond the museum space (Cahill et al., 2011; Chen & Huang, 2012; Collins et al., 2009; Schultz, 2013; Vavoula et al., 2009; Yatani et al., 2004). For example, Collins et al. (2009) used the text messaging function of a cellular phone in order to assist learners who observed exhibits. Schultz (2013) provides QR codes next to the exhibits that connect audiences to a blog where they can write down their own opinions on the exhibits, and ask questions.

Although mobile learning in a museum is done mainly on the museum site, many studies suggested both prior and post-visit activities to assist learners (Cahill et al., 2011; Charitonos et al., 2012; Chen & Huang, 2012; Collins et al., 2009; Hsi, 2002; Vavoula et al., 2009). For example, Zydeco set a plan for an investigation into a preliminary learning based on project-based learning principles and performed data collection regarding question and tag formation, along with an appreciation of exhibits during the actual visit. After the visit, the learners rearranged and restructured their data, and uploaded their research results on the website (Cahill et al., 2011).

Combination of mobile technology and pedagogy

Mobile museum learning does not mean mobile devices and technology only. While there is a positive evaluation on the use of mobile devices in museums, some restrictions are also pointed out in that mobile learning restricts profound interaction between learners and exhibits, and that learners spend more time with the devices, and are forced to do so. (e.g. Hsi 2003; Klopfer et al., 2005; Mantyjarvi et al., 2006; Reynolds et al., 2010; Semper & Spasojevic 2002). Under such limitations, mobile learning focuses on learning more through the steady observation of exhibits, and developing and applying learner-oriented technology in order to assist learners (e.g., Kwak 2004; Klopfer et al., 2005). It applies a theoretical basis of learner-oriented and problem-based learning so that learners can solve problems or perform assignments through search and analysis of exhibits, and through information that supports interactions between learners. It is based on interactions between learners and exhibits and knowledge composition. Many researchers suggested the use of mobile devices along with problem-solving activities (Klopfer et al., 2005; Kwak 2004; Sung et al., 2010b). For example, Shihsan-hang Museum in Taipei provides a problem situation that includes stories and a quest on a PDA, and makes learners search for information while evaluating exhibits and complete the quest through discussion with their peers (Sung et al., 2010b).

There are studies on problem-based learning programs that were developed by museums (Feix et al., 2004; Klopfer et al., 2005; Kwak, 2004; Yatani et al., 2004;). For example, the MUSEX application program included in the Future Hall of the National Museum of Japan (Yatani et al., 2004) enables learners to select an exhibit and solve assignments by group in the form of a game, while carrying a PDA to which an RFID reader is embedded. Children can monitor the progress of each group on a shared screen. After finishing the activities, individual participants may visit the website and trace his/her own path in the museum. The DinoHunter Project is a game-based and mixed-reality application program developed by the Senckenberg museum in Frankfurt, Germany. It consists of three things: DinoExplorer, DinoPick and DinoQuiz. The electronic guide provides information to users. DinoQuiz provides a series of questions for further exploration of exhibits in a museum (Feix et al., 2004). A game-based program that was developed for mystery science, for the Boston Art Museum, performs activities with a PDA and a radio set to seek for thieves who stole exhibits. High school students and parents in the program can become a technician, biologist, or a detective (Klopfer et al., 2005) to catch a thief. Major features include social interaction between learners, and participation in collaborative activities related to the exhibits.

A conceptual framework for smart museum learning

The conceptual framework for smart museum learning is based on the aforementioned research, and cases are as follows.

[Figure1]conceptual frame

[Figure 1] conceptual framework for smart museum learning

Technological categories

First is on-site learning by visiting a museum. Learners can learn about exhibits through object-based learning with mobile devices, through the website of the museum, or through various experiential activities involving the content in a museum. Second, smart museum learning utilizes mobile devices and applications. Third, it utilizes diverse digital technologies related to exhibits. Fourth, smart museum learning adds a function to enable communication and interaction between the museum and visitors, and between visitors. It is expanding its approach to go “beyond the museums walls.” Based on the technical characteristics provided by Web 2.0, smart museum learning provides an environment for more flexible and easier learning-oriented activities and broader interactions than before. Fifth, learners can build their own portfolio through pre-visit, during visit and post-visit experiences and keep and utilize it. Sixth, learners can use a museum website, which is a virtual museum. Utilizing digital exhibits in the form of animation, high-resolution photos, video and audio, and related research materials and digital archive exhibits in a virtual museum, learners can have free choice to explore learning. Online websites can also be used for the purpose of stimulating visitors to visit the museum in person after seeing digital images and explanations about exhibits provided by a virtual museum.

Pedagogical activities

If only the technical aspects are emphasized, use of mobile devices may restrict profound interaction between learners and exhibits, and learners may spend more time just using their devices. Therefore many researchers suggested pedagogical methods like problem-based learning along with the use of mobile devices in order for people to focus on learning through the observation of exhibits. From constructivist thought, learning is an active process of constructing meaning from sensory input, learning is a social activity undertaken in conjunction with others and learning is contextual (Hein, 1991). Also, a website is utilized to obtain broad and diverse learning resources.

As such, when a museum is closely combined with Web 2.0, technology and pedagogy, we can call it a Smart Museum. In this environment, learners can use various resources, including the museum’s archives according to their circumstances, be provided with a quality learning opportunity, and have an optimal environment for self-directed and social learning.

3. Research methods

Subject and period

The subjects of this study were selected from among the museums that participated in the “Humanities on Road” museum project sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. 10 were selected to be a smart museum in 2013, and 22 were selected in 2014. This study collected and analyzed the learning programs of the smart museums that were selected in 2013 to 2014.

Data collection and analysis

This study analyzed the instruction plans of the 32 smart learning programs of the smart museums in total in order to analyze the patterns of smart museum learning in Korea. It also analyzed the content of lesson plans and reconfirmed through telephone interviews with the staff who were in charge, and who developed and operated the learning programs. The types of smart museum learning programs were analyzed according to conceptual framework (refer to Figure1) based on the theoretical background (refer to Figure 2).

fig 2. sample coding

[Figure 2] a sample of coding according to the framework

4. Research results

The status quo of smart museum learning in Korea

Various kinds of digital technology have been applied in the field of education in conjunction with the emergence of the digital era. Not only in school education systems, but also in informal educational institutions such as museums and art galleries, much effort is being made to utilize digital technology. Under these conditions, this study intends to figure out the status of quo of smart museum learning in Korea, focusing on the ”Humanities on the Road” project for museums that has been promoted since 2013.

The findings of this study showed various understandings regarding smart museum learning and the scope of activities of each museum. According to the classification using the analysis framework, smart museum learning can be classified into two perspectives: technical categories and pedagogical activities. In terms of technical categories which are illustrated in Figure3, smart museum learning can be represented in diverse ways according to the devices and types of applications. Regarding technology for the object, a technology usage ratio of 34% and the related technologies were QR and NFC. For utilizing platforms on the wall, usage ratio are higher than those not on the wall. This indicates that most museums share information and build communities for social interaction within the museum. Only 25% use multiple platforms such as blogs, Facebook, YouTube to have opportunities for social interaction with the outside. There are a few cases that utilize e-portfolio and the online museum.

fig 3. technological cate

[Figure 3] The status quo of smart museum learning in Korea: technical categories

In terms of the pedagogical activities illustrated in Figure4, object-based learning (OBL) is the highest in usage. Social learning, self-directed learning (SDL) and project-based learning (PBL) are used much in museum activities. Some cases are illustrated to use multiple sources based on the Internet such as web browsing and the museum website. However few cases show activities beyond the museum’s walls and pre- and post-visit experiences. This indicates that most of them focused on activities in the museum only, not on post-visit programs such as collaboration between the museum and school.

fig 4. pedagogical activities

[Figure 4] The status Quo of Smart museum learning in Korea-pedagogical activities

Case studies by type

Technology-emphasized cases on museum contents

(1) Kyunggi University Museum (http://museum.kyonggi.ac.kr/index.html)
The students who participated in the museum learning programs are asked, as a team of two members, to listen to the explanation and solve given problems with an iPAD, and check out the right answers through the QR codes of each exhibit. Then, they take photos in a photo zone and play a game using Geumgansando, a painting describing Mr. Guemgang. Participants send data with an QR code, and photos of the exhibits via email, which enables them to do a follow-up study after visiting the museum by linking them with an e-portfolio.

YooGeum Museum (http://yoogeum.org/)

Yugeum Wadang Museum developed a “Dr. Wa” application that contains various pieces of information, and a quiz on ancient roof-end tiles (Wadang) and clay soldier dolls, which are the exhibits of the museum. Learners who participated in the program are asked to attend a lecture on the exhibits first, and then solve a quiz given by “Dr.Wa” with a team match. Then, they can apprehend Wadang exhibits with an iPad by utilizing a QR code and a worksheet, and participate in experiential programs such as drawing a Wadang poster and patterns by themselves, etc.

Balanced application of technology and pedagogy

  1. Kyunghee Natural History Museum (http://nhm.khu.ac.kr/v2/)
    Kyunghee Natural History Museum provides a learning program related to animal specimen exhibits. In the program, animals are described in color, based on the various meanings and roles of colors. The exhibited animals are classified according to the classification criteria set by the team members, and reorganized by their characteristics. The learning program consists of on-site visit and post-visit learning. The on-site visit is a process in which a mission is suggested and solved. Each team explores exhibits, observes the characteristics of each exhibit and reorganizes it. Such specimen reclassification work is done on a plane with smart devices. Collage work is also done by each group as an assignment based on various learning activities. As for post-class learning, students are given a pop-up book and asked to express “themselves” in color in the brochures based on the expanded meaning of exhibits. These activities are to be done in school after visiting the museum. In that case, teachers are guided through the production of creative works as an expansion of the class, and given the lesson plan and teaching materials, so that they can induce outcomes related to museum learning from their students. In the process, iPad and application programs such as ‘Popplet’,‘ Scan’, ‘Piccollage’ were also used as tools to encourage the interests of learners and maintain the smooth operation of programs.
  2. Bukchon Museum (http://www.bomulgun.com/) The Bukchon Museum provides a learning program to solve a “treasure hunt” mission with ancient living things in the historic relics scattered along the alleys of Bukchon Village, a traditional house-clustered Korean village in Jongro-gu, Seoul. In the form of a game, 4-5 members organize as a team, and explore the historic relics in the Bukchon Village using a Bukchon Village road map and a mission note provided in the smart pad, to perform the mission by observing the household item relics. Students enjoy performing other tasks involved in the missions such as taking photos related to exhibits and historic relics, creating animated images, quiz-solving, gathering information and doing searches by utilizing the iPad and various iPad applications (photos, code scanning, hand drawing, Internet portal sites, pic collage, etc.) and have opportunities to understand and experience some past history of Korea in modern times. The museum also sends materials about museum learning programs to teachers in advance for preliminary preparation of the learning. It then shares the learning results with people outside the programs through ‘Youtube’, which allows communication with, and access to the museum.

5. Conclusion and Suggestions

In a Web era that has the characteristics of openness, sharing, participation, and collaboration in the 21st century (O’Reilly, 2005), museums should provide interactive communication between learners, between learners and experts, and between learners and the museums without any restriction to time and space, by using devices in the museum, on the website, and/or various other devices. Participation and collaboration of learners should also be more easily done. The desirable direction of smart museum learning is to provide a learning system that reflects self-directed, always-on, project-based and collaborative learning principles, utilizing smart technology and pedagogical activities. Smart museum learning in the future should be provided based on such smart museum learning principles.


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Cite as:
I. Kang & S. Lee, A Conceptual Framework for Smart Museum Education. In Museums and the Web Asia 2014, N. Proctor & R. Cherry (eds). Silver Spring, MD: Museums and the Web. Published October 2, 2014. Consulted .