MCN 2016 Sessions – Building an Innovative In-House App: Collaboration, Evaluation, Iteration

Graphic showing smartphones and loaded apps

Building an Innovative In-House App: Collaboration, Evaluation, & Iteration
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 4:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Speaker: Miranda Kerr, Manager of Digital Learning, Shedd Aquarium
Designing and building an in-house app involves collaboration across departments, creativity in prototyping, and a commitment to evaluation to ensure the goals of the learning experience are being met. Shedd Aquarium has reimagined the school group experience to challenge the notion that field trips are an out-of-class unstructured visit and instead a constructive learning opportunity. Over two years, supported by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, a cross-departmental team researched the needs of teachers, students, staff, and chaperones, and then reimagined the school group experience. The reimagined experience now includes programs based in tablet apps, called Science Tech Treks. The program pilot and creation phase included prototyping with paper and existing apps, and then using an iterative design process to perfect the in-house app. The Science Tech Trek apps were designed as an immersive technology experience, connecting K-5 students to our animals and exhibits. These apps are not gallery guides, but instead students observe animals, make predictions, record data like a scientist, and create a digital journal. Teachers automatically receive an electronic copy of the students’ work created in the app during the field trip to track their learning, and build upon their experiences during post-trip classroom activities. Science Tech Treks were launched in the fall of 2015, and there were 259 program registrations in the 2015-2016 school year, reaching 7,179 students! Our evaluation team has conducted observations of school groups using the app, including group and student case studies, to measure the impact. We are also able to review the digital journals students create to ensure learner outcomes are met. Presentation Highlights: 1) Collaboration across cross-departmental teams to design, build, and evaluate an in-house app 2) The iterative, innovative process of creating these apps 3) The benefits of co-creation of digital journals by students