Ball State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 1085-1095
ISBN: 978-84-606-5763-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
Mobile technologies are everywhere, and each year, students are bringing more devices to campus and into the classroom. Early and unfiltered data indicates 60% of the devices connected to the Ball State University network are smartphones.1 When students cross the threshold of the classroom with a mobile device, are the devices distractions or are they actively integrated into the course to encourage learning and engage students in the subjects being taught? Can institutions cultivate apps to complement and enhance pedagogy?

At the university, information technology collaborates with faculty to imagine, create, and develop apps; deploy and integrate emerging technologies; and provide students with new learning opportunities beyond the classroom. Through these efforts, we integrate technology into course content, stimulate inquiry, and encourage further investigation by creating connections into multiple disciplines. Neurologist and teacher, Judy Willis, states, “whenever new material is presented in such a way that students see relationships, they generate greater brain cell activity and achieve more successful long-term memory storage and retrieval.”2

One such collaboration is an app designed to foster a deeper and more interactive engagement with the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State. This is an ongoing venture between information technology, an art history professor, and a group of advanced undergraduate students.

Our vision was to mobilize emerging technologies to develop didactic portals that mobile app users could explore in order to learn more about individual objects at the museum. To achieve this goal, students are using tablets, smartwatches, location beacons, and data visualization technologies.

We also wanted to test new ways to engage the museum’s collection by allowing students to develop virtual galleries. Students organized works of art in the museum around new themes that transcend the limits of the physical space the works of art currently inhabit. They made cross-cultural and atemporal connections between works of art that are currently on view, and brought objects from storage that the museum-going public rarely sees into these virtual exhibitions as well.

The students are actively participating in conversations about the role of technology in educational institutions like museums, practicing their research skills, and thinking broadly about the sorts of questions and information that museum visitors might seek, that such institutions cannot readily provide in traditional exhibition contexts. They are creating connections between the artwork and other subjects such as fashion, religion, geology, and politics to develop layers of content and alternative views that have the opportunity to engage museum visitors in a more unique manner than the traditional placard.

The project is experimental in nature and has evolved over the duration of a semester, driven by the choices that students have made. While the project has focused on our campus museum, the methods and principles have the potential to be applied to other institutions, as well as a wide variety of academic endeavors. This can serve as an ongoing source of practical experience for students interested in technology, museums, art, history, natural sciences, and other disciplines.

[1] Network data statistics. (2014). Ball State University.
[2] Willis, Judy. (2006). Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Mobile technology, emerging technology, beacons, indoor positioning, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, wearables, data visualization.