October 4, 2011: Talk Announcement - Michael Horn: "Of BATs and APEs: Designing Interactive Tabletop Exhibits for Natural History Museums"

Talk Announcement

Of BATs and APEs: Designing Interactive Tabletop Exhibits for Natural History Museums

Michael Horn
Assistant Professor
Computer Science and Learning Sciences
Tuesday October 11, 2011
2:00 p.m., 2068 ERF Building - EVL Cybercommons


In this talk I will present work on a project to design museum exhibits on evolution using multi-??touch tabletop technology. I will discuss multiple challenges in this design space, including working with emerging interactive technology, supporting collaborative learning about evolution, and integrating our work within the broader context of natural history museums. Our design process involved multiple rounds of development and testing with an emphasis on increasing ecological validity over time. In addition to pitfalls, dead ends, and detours, I will show some of the designs that seem to be successful and present data that helps explain why. I will focus on an interactive phylogenetic tree building game that we evaluated with over 70 visitors at a well-??known university natural history museum. Our results show encouraging levels of focused engagement and suggest productive collaborative learning. A more detailed analysis that visitors were able to import collaborative practices of video game play into the museum context, which seems to have contributed to the outcomes we observed.


Michael S. Horn is an assistant professor at Northwestern University with a joint appointment in Computer Science and the Learning Sciences. Michael's research explores the use of emerging interactive technology in the design of novel learning experiences. His projects include the design and evaluation of a tangible computer programming language for use in science museums and early elementary school classrooms; the design of interactive technology to promote sustainability and learning in homes; and the design of multi-?? touch tabletop exhibits for use in natural history museums. Michael earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Tufts University working in the Human-??Computer Interaction Lab and the Developmental Technologies research group. He received his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from Brown University and has worked as a software engineer for several companies including Classroom Connect and iRobot Corporation. Michael?s work can be seen at the Boston Museum of Science and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

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