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Welcome to MUSTEL, Designing for Technology Enhanced Learning in Museums

The importance of exploratoria, science museums, museums of natural history, etc. as sites for engaging and enriching learning experiences for all ages, but especially for children, has become acknowledged in recent years. This has led to increased interest in both understanding the ways in which people engage and learn in these so-called “informal” settings – as distinct from the classroom, say – as well as an exploration of how to enhance these settings through the use of new technologies such as mixed media, mixed reality, animations, simulations etc. both at the physical sites and through the Internet. Recent studies and literature reviews document the emergence of new technologies in museums to enhance learning, from collection management databases to the digital mediation of museum collections through exhibitions, displays, mobile audio and multimedia tours, and websites. (Pierroux, 2001; Knell, 2003; Proctor & Tellis, 2003; vom Lehn & Heath, 2003; Parry, 2005; Sayre, 2005; Hawkey, 2006; Naismith, Lonsdale, Vavoula & Sharples, 2006). These contributions also provide insight into the significance of a sociocultural perspective on museum learning, an approach that increasingly frames current design research. However, connections between use, social interaction, learning, and the implications for design are often unclear and under-theorized in the research literature. 
Novel computational paradigms, such as pervasive or ubiquitous computing, may create new possibilities for interactivity, enabling designers and technologists to create novel hybrid artefacts and environments, which combine digital and physical properties in novel ways. Consequently, this may allow new understandings of learning to emerge. As Plowman and Luckin (2003, p. 160) note in a special edition of the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, ‘New technologies may lead to new concepts of play and learning/especially as new ways are found of conceptualising ICT so that the term does not simply denote standard computers.’
Thus we believe that the study of learning experiences with and through new technologies in museum settings provides a rich opportunity for investigating a host of pertinent research questions concerning a set of core concerns of the
Kaleidoscope network on technology-enhanced learning, including: Theoretical approaches to understanding learning activities, and informal learning settings, with special emphasis on socio-cultural approaches; The role of participative design practices and scenarios in the early stages of the design process; Lessons learned from the deployment of new technologies in such settings; Design guidelines for the development of ICT- enhanced museum environments. 
We thus believe that there is a need to extend theoretical perspectives on museum learning to the field of TEL. Several
Kaleidoscope members in different SIGS are currently exploring design issues in TEL that are either directly or indirectly related to museums (Bannon & Kaptelinin, 2001; Hall & Bannon, 2005, 2006; Kaptelinin & Nardi, 2006; Pierroux, 2006; Sharples, Taylor & Vavoula, 2006; Walker, 2006). The objective of this initiative is to integrate Kaleidoscope and other international research on TEL in museums, to analyse existing installations and best practice, and to recommend design principles grounded in a common theoretical perspective on learning that will be useful for future TEL research in museums. 

Overview of the Activities

Research on TEL design in museums will be studied in 4 different countries
1. Ireland (University of Limerick and National University of Ireland, Galway)
2. Norway (University of Oslo)
3. United Kingdom (London Knowledge Lab)
4. Sweden (Umeå University)
The activity period is February 1 to December 31, 2007. The project members will participate in two workshops organized by the steering committee to present and discuss contributions to the report. The report is tentatively titled Design Issues for Technology Enhanced Learning in Museums and will be published on the
Kaleidoscope website by the end of the project. Members will also be encouraged to collaborate on the dissemination of the project activities in the form of international conference papers and journal articles.
Contributions to the second Kaleidoscope symposium in Berlin, November 2007 MUSTEL will arrange its second workshop to link with the second Kaleidoscope symposium on the topic of designing for TEL in museums. This workshop will be open to all
Kaleidoscope members, who will be invited to participate with position papers, demonstrations, and analyses. A report on the workshop will be published on the Kaleidoscope website by December 31, 2007.


The outcome of MUSTEL is the development and dissemination of recommendations for theoretically-motivated design principles for technology enhanced learning in museums. The success criteria for the outcome is the integration of Kaleidoscope research on TEL in museums in a well-grounded theoretical perspective on learning that will be useful for future museum research.


Final Project Report (Design Issues for Technology Enhanced Learning in Museums) produced by end of project, published on the Kaleidoscope website.

Project Membership

The principal KAL members of MUSTEL are:
Liam Bannon, Interaction Design Centre, University of Limerick
Palmyre Pierroux, InterMedia, University of Oslo
Victor Kaptelinin, Umeå University
Kevin Walker, London Knowledge Lab, University of London, UK

The associate KAL members of MUSTEL are:
5. Tony Hall, National University of Ireland, Galway
6. Dagny Stuedahl, University of Oslo, Norway