Edutangible: Developing Multitouch Interfaces for the Communication of Collections at the Panama Viejo Monumental Complex

By Ana Luisa Sánchez Laws.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Between February and April 2011, I led the project Edutangible, a research project about the use of multitouch technologies at the Panama Viejo Monumental Complex in Panama City, Panama. Our goal was to explore the use of a multitouch tabletop to engage school children ages 8 to 11 with the site and with its archaeology collection. We hypothesized that the more "natural" type of interaction these technologies provided (i.e. being able to manipulate vicarious representations of the artifacts through touch) could help enhance the children's interest in the collection objects. Through iterative design cycles linked to our first two days of user testing, we created an interface in which children could put together pieces of Pre-Columbian plates. We then conducted two more days of user testing in which we framed the use of the tabletop as part of a guided tour of the site. A total of 200 children participated in the four test sessions. We asked the children to give rankings in a feeling scale to the four key parts of the tour: the visit to the main tower at the complex, 2 collection exhibitions, and the multitouch tabletop. Test results showed that while the technology was highly engaging and attractive for the children, it could also potentially overshadow the collections and the monumental complex. Based on this experience, I would like to present an overview of the challenges I have identified when using these technologies to communicate heritage.

Keywords: Museum Design, Multitouch Technology, Interaction Design, User Testing

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.1-15. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 719.275KB).

Dr. Ana Luisa Sánchez Laws

Assistant Professor, Media Arts and Production, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Ana Luisa Sánchez Laws is an assistant professor in Media Arts and Production at the Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra, Australia. Her research interests include new media (social media and emerging online audiovisual forms), museums, documentary, multitouch technologies, interaction design, and ubiquitous computing. Her focus is on user-centric design, user experiences, natural user interfaces, usability testing, co-creative practices, participation, social inclusion, and diversity. Ana recently published a volume entitled Panamanian Museums and Historical Memory (with Berghahn Books, Oxford), is in the process of publishing a book on museum website design (with Fudan Publishing), and is preparing a volume on the use of digital technology in physical museum exhibitions.

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