Heath-vom Lehn2008

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Heath-vom Lehn2008
BibType ARTICLE
Key Heath-vom Lehn2008
Author(s) Christian Heath, Dirk vom Lehn
Title Configuring 'interactivity': enhancing engagement in science centres and museums
Editor(s)
Tag(s) EMCA, interactivity, museums, science centres, social interaction, technology
Publisher
Year 2008
Language English
City
Month
Journal Social Studies of Science
Volume 38
Number 1
Pages 63–91
URL Link
DOI 10.1177/0306312707084152
ISBN
Organization
Institution
School
Type
Edition
Series
Howpublished
Book title
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Abstract

There is a growing commitment within science centres and museums to develop exhibitions that engender new forms of participation that contribute to the public's understanding of science. Information and communication systems play an important role in this regard, enabling new forms of 'interaction' with and around exhibits. In this paper we consider how visitors respond to these exhibits and explore the forms of interaction that arise within these new exhibition areas. The analysis addresses the ways in which these so-called 'interactives' create highly constrained sequences of action that prioritize the individual user while undermining the opportunities for co-participation and collaboration. It examines the ecologies of participation that arise with, around and within different types of exhibit and exhibition. The paper suggests that many 'interactive' exhibits rely upon a model of 'interaction' and the 'user' that pervades computer-based systems, a model that has been subject to sustained criticism over some years. In other words, the paper points to the ways in which 'interactivity' is conflated with social interaction and how the seemingly innovative and entertaining exhibits may fail to engender the co-participation and collaboration that is seen as critical to learning and engagement.

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