Although they seem new and modern, multimedia systems are actually part of a long tradition of interpretive techniques that bring visitors closer to the material in a museum, gallery, or visitor center. As the name implies, multimedia is a combination of several media. In the analog case, for example, it may be a simple image and text – an information board. So as soon as the image and the text are put together, we can already speak of multimedia.
Over time, the field of multimedia in connection with museums has expanded greatly. Already at the end of the last century, many famous museums sold in their gift shops digital recordings of their exhibits, images, texts, sounds and sometimes educational films in the format CD-ROM; D’Orsay, Louvre, Metropolitan Museum of Art…
What was once the preserve of high-profile and well-funded museums and cultural institutions is slowly spreading, becoming cheaper and more accessible. And not only that, but the possibilities offered by the latest technological innovations are also increasing.
Technological innovations such as AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality), as well as educational video games, offer more – building emotional experiences. In addition to visually appealing innovations, a critical factor for new features is interactivity. A high level of interaction draws users into the content, arouses greater interest and prompts them to participate in the exhibition.
The success of a multimedia system depends on both the attractiveness of the content to the user and the user interface.
Unlike, for example, an educational film, which is linear and leads the visitor to watch it passively from beginning to end, interactivity allows the display to be ordered and controlled. This achieves a direct communication between the presented material and the user.
Several factors must be taken into consideration to capture the attention of visitors: Design, user interface, control mechanics and many other things we call in the industry UX.
UX is the term for User eXperience. The concept of user experience dates back to ancient times. Even Vitruvius, a Roman architect from the 1st century BC, pointed out several factors for good design – durability, utility and aesthetics. These principles played as important a role in building the amphitheater as they do today in designing new gadgets, video games, or multimedia systems to meet the needs of museums. The only difference is that today, when developing a service or product, we pay attention to the following question: How can the interaction with the presented content be made intuitive and pleasant for the users?
Gamification is another term we use a lot these days. It refers to the approach we take to try to make interacting with digital content like playing a video game.
What was once exclusive to the younger male population has now become a daily routine for many people of all ages. In a sense, we have all become gamers, whether we realize it or not. The applications on our smartphones have taken their design, interface and functionality from the world of video games. As you would expect, this process is also necessary in the field of education, i.e. the transmission of information, knowledge and experience.
One of the basic principles of didactics is that the program adapts to the pace of learning. The implementation of interactivity allows users to adapt the learning pace to themselves in an intuitive and entertaining way.
By using multiple channels, up to three times more information is absorbed than by inputting through a single channel. “It is believed that the percentage of adoption after listening is on average 20%, after watching is 30%, after watching and listening at the same time is 50%, and after listening, watching and touching is 70%. Adoption rates, of course, also depend on factors such as motivation, sensitivity, and presentation.”
We should not use digital media just because it’s modern or affordable, but it must meet a specific educational goal. This requires the cooperation of museum and multimedia experts from the very beginning, i.e. already during the development of the exhibition concept. It is necessary to think about how interactivity should be integrated into the exhibition material, what information should be conveyed to the users and what results can be expected. In doing so, one should take into account the prior knowledge that can be expected from the visitors and make sure that the overload of information does not lead to fatigue and visual monotony.
Source: APA 6th Edition (2004). Primjena multimedije u muzejima. Informatica museologica, 35 (1-2), 32-41. Link https://hrcak.srce.hr/140350