Title:A Ubiquitous Mobile Edutainment Application for Learning Science through Play
Authors:Isabelle Astic, Coline Aunis, Areti Damala, Eric Gressier-Soudan
Publication:MW2011: Museums and the Web 2011

In recent years, more and more educational applications in mobility have appeared in museums. More often, these projects are synonymous with new forms of access towards the public, reflected by a more active investment from the visitors and a more interactive relationship between the museum and its audience. The purpose may reside in a further and innovative learning of the museum and its collection.

However, what are the real contributions of these types of applications compared to more traditional offers of museum education/museum interpretation (kiosks, audio guides, guided tours…)? Do those new mobility devices favour an alternative discovery of the museum collections? If so, how to perfect in a better way this new form of learning?

The existing studies show that these new devices are sources of new interactions with visitors: transverse courses, personalization according to the age, language or abilities, collaboration or pre- and post-visit activities. They also facilitate educational games creations, convenient to not conventional relationship with the artefacts and involving physically, intellectually and emotionally the visitors. However, few studies allow to judge the influence of those applications on learning.

The project "PLUG: Ubiquitous Play and Play More" consisted in the creation of an ubiquitous game in the Musée des arts et metiers, the French national Industrial Arts and Crafts museum located in Paris. This project brought together different and complementary skills: research laboratories (computer science, information and communication science), industrial companies (Orange lab or game-design company), the museum and a non-profit organization specialized in story-telling for social events. All these combined skills aimed to explore some forms of learning like collaboration into a team and between teams and, last but not the least, to test new ones: immersion thanks to the pervasive aspect of the game, storytelling, role playing and dynamic adaptability depending on players skills and previous knowledge.

This work of game's definition, development, implementation and testing is what we present here. We describe the first game we have designed, and how we developed a second one, based on the museum visitors' feedback, in order to reinforced the learning process and tend to the nearest educational objectives targeted. These two versions of the game, one representative of the theory of magic circle, the second of the flow theory, seem to have a different cognitive and affective impact on the visitors.