Digital Labels: case studies, research, implementation

This year we were lucky enough to have Sarah Angus working with us on her final project in the Masters of Learning Science and Technology (University of Sydney) who reviewed the potential of digital labels for museum learning, using the ANMM as a ‘client’ for the project. We gave Sarah access to our in-house research, staff expertise, as well as brainstorming what areas we wanted Sarah to focus on from staff in curatorial, design, programs, exhibition and audience research.

One of the early learnings for us were that there is a plethora of what could be called ‘digital labels’ in use across museums beyond what we first thought would be just text panels transferred to digital screens!

Sarah has written two posts about her work:

  • Balancing Opportunities and Challenges – an introduction to the study and case examples, starting with technology that is a substitution for conventional labels and advancing to tools that innovate the museum experience. This post also includes an incredibly useful checklist of challenges to be considered when developing digital labels.
  • Distraction Transformed Into Learning Tools – the second post that asks “… can exhibit labels and more specifically digital exhibit labels effectively support visitors and their learning process at museums?” and suggests that “… to be successful digital exhibit labels must balance the needs of the visitor and the institution.”
Framework for Digital Label Evaluation c. Sarah Angus

Framework for Digital Label Evaluation © Sarah Angus

Sarah developed a Framework for Digital Label Evaluation: “… explore, imagine, inspire, [where] ‘explore’ is the process of discovery, ‘imagine’ is the construction of meaning, and ‘inspire’ is the opportunity for individual and shared reflection.”

For us at the museum, the overall take-home message was to “… think big, prototype and evaluate!

This was a great study, so check out the posts especially if your museum is considering implementing digital labels.

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2 thoughts on “Digital Labels: case studies, research, implementation

  1. Chris Lang (@ErsatzEnnui) says:

    Some great research. I’ve heard some negative comments from visitors to Wild Planet about the digital labels there particularly in regards to children – they are at a level that attracts the attention of small kids but the navigation and content are too complex for them to use, making them frustrated and distracting them from the physical objects in front of them.

    • lyndakelly61 says:

      Thanks for that Chris. You make an interesting point that we’ve found in our new experience too – visitors expect the “digital label” screens to act like live tablets so I see them scrolling and using the pinching motion when that isn’t the way the digital labels were designed to be used – more like text panels. I guess we’re all still learning!

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