Supporting Social Engagement for Young Audiences with Serious Games and Virtual Environments in Museums

Part of the Springer Series on Cultural Computing book series (SSCC)


Considering the shift of museums toward digital experiences that can satiate the interests of their young audiences, we suggest an integrated schema for socially engaging large visitor groups. As a means to present our position, we propose a framework for audience involvement with complex educational material, combining serious games and virtual environments along with a theory of contextual learning in museums. We suggest that effective learning with school groups visiting museums can occur through the facilitation of coordinated activities of young participants with appropriately designed technological mediation. We use the term orchestrated learning to present our rationale on how such activities can lead to enhanced learning through increased motivation and social interactions. In order to validate our framework, we built a testbed application that supports collaborative gameplay of small and large student groups. The application, named C-OLiVE: Collaborative Orchestrated Learning in Virtual Environments, is a 3D simulation game that allows participants to learn the process of olive oil production. The game has been used so far in three studies with 710 students in schools, summer camps, and a museum. We describe the modes of visitor involvement that were designed and tested with middle school students in the different learning settings. Finally, we present our most important findings and discuss their implications for the design of interactive digital experiences for young audiences visiting museums. These findings serve both as evidence for the applicability of our framework and as a guidepost for the direction we should move to foster richer technology-mediated social engagement of young crowds in museums.



We would like to thank all the Virginia Tech departments that supported our work over the years, such as the College of Engineering, the Center for Human-Computer Interaction, and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology. Also, Eric Ragan, Michael Stewart (CS); Reza Tasooji, Ellie Nikoo (School of Visual Arts); and Chreston Miller (University Libraries) for their assistance in designing the game, building the 3D models, and running the data analysis, respectively. We also want to thank Allison Loughlin from the Franklin Institute for giving us the opportunity to present the game as a case study in the museum. Last, but not least, the lead author deeply thanks his wife, Anna Delinikola, for her continuous support during all these years, also acting as a research assistant in some of the studies.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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