To meet the needs of 21st Century Learners and to remain viable as an educational resource into the future, the Minnesota Historical Society has been conducting research and testing to develop a mobile application that could be used with large groups of children on school field trips. We would like to share our preliminary findings from teacher, parent/chaperone and child focus groups conducted throughout Minnesota and exhibit testing at the Minnesota History Center using mobile tools with school-aged children.  Here are a few of the questions we’ve started to explore during our research:

  • What challenges are teachers struggling with in educating 21st Century Learners? What challenges do parents face? Students?
  • How do teachers use field trips? What do they value most about field trips? How do field trips relate to classroom learning?
  • What do parent chaperones value about field trips? How do they apply field trip experiences to family learning experiences?
  • What do students value about field trips? What do they like and not like about field trips?
  • Can mobile technology maximize learning on field trips by responding to 21st Century Learner preferences?
  • Can mobile technology facilitate deeper learning for schoolchildren through free choice and personalization?
  • Can mobile technology connect the field trip to the classroom and the home in a meaningful way?
  • How can a mobile experience facilitate a meaningful social interaction among peers and parent chaperones?
  • Can a mobile activity be implemented on a large scale for schoolchildren on field trips?
  • How can a mobile activity work with an interactive physical environment, not against it?
  • What mobile activities yield the richest experiences in a museum environment?
  • Is it worth investing in mobile technology to keep museums relevant for the new generation of 21st Century Learners, or are there other less expensive tools and techniques we should be investigating that are equally or more effective?
  • Do teachers, kids, or parents really want to use mobile technology on a field trip?

We’d like to get your feedback on these and other questions, and we’d love to hear about similar work that is occurring at other institutions. Please join us for a lively conversation and help us learn from each other.

Wendy Jones and Jennifer Sly