Priscila Jaramillo Rivadeneira
Using Mobile Tours as a Strategy for Heritage Education
The contemporary museology discourse has been predominated by ideas of participation, engagement, accessibility and interaction. This has caused many institutions to reach outside of their conventional exhibition ideas and merge their practices with digital tools. While the increase and demand in technology are a consequence of technological advances, it is mostly a response to a highly digital culture. Within this, one of the tools implemented are mobile tours; and whereas some museums have included these in their programming, other institutions and critics are not that optimistic of their outcomes (or do not have the means to do so). Therefore, this thesis focuses on the influence of how their implementation alter visitor education, which is one of the main goals targeted through this medium.
It is important to maintain a critical approach to this trend in order to harness its full potential. Hence, this report is based on theoretical data as well as case studies, examining the influence on the audience experience, as well as analysing their implementation. Finalizing with a small focus that compares two tours (one from the Rijksmuseum and the other from the Stedelijk Museum), in order to weigh the practical aspects. Chapter 2 focuses on the possibilities of mobile tours in participation strategies, mainly the increase of accessibility and interaction, by supporting the visitor before, during and after their visit. Chapter 3 examines the influence of such tours in engagement, associated with incrementing interest and creating learning value. Chapter 4 considers the impact of negative implementation of such tours, which not only lie in the functionality and design, but also in a clear objective and application of the tours. Chapter 5 relates these information in a focus group, allowing a first glimpse on the implementation done by these two museums. The results of the research showcase a strong difference in both tours, where the Rijksmuseum's smooth and interesting application produced positive learning attributes, whereas the confusing and limited tour in the Stedelijk produced disengagement.
Overall the results indicate that mobile tours hold strong potential for discovery and learning; however, this does not necessarily guarantee a successful outcome. Museum professionals must critically decide when to develop them, considering their goals, functionality and entertainment aspects in order to strengthen heritage education.