Evaluating the usability and learning potential of a virtual museum tour application for schools

Aristeidou, Maria; Orphanoudakis, Theofanis; Kouvara, Theodora; Karachristos, Christoforos and Spyropoulou, Natalia (2023). Evaluating the usability and learning potential of a virtual museum tour application for schools. In: INTED 2023 Proceedings, 6-8 Mar 2023, Valencia, Spain, pp. 2572–2578.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21125/inted.2023.0720


Museums engage people in diverse displays to help them appreciate cultural heritage while improving their cognitive, attitudinal, affective and social outcomes (Jarvis & Pell, 2005). Museums often have schools as their primary targets. Still, school visits to museums are not always possible, especially when the schools are located in remote areas or due to extraordinary circumstances (i.e., a pandemic). This paper presents the evaluation of an early version of a web-based application for virtual museum tours (VMT) for schools. The app enables teachers to create themed museums by selecting artefacts stored in the application’s library or uploading their own. This paper presents the evaluation of an early version of a web-based application for virtual museum tours for schools, which empowers teachers to create their own museums. The evaluation aims to inform its redesign and ensure usability and learning potential.

The app evaluation involved two phases - qualitative usability testing and a virtual tours evaluation instrument. Through a concurrent think-aloud protocol, qualitative usability testing has been employed to uncover problems in the user experience of engaging in main application tasks. In addition, a 19-item virtual tours evaluation instrument focused on four dimensions of the virtual tours experience: authenticity, interactivity, navigation, and learning potential (Li, Nie & Ye, 2019). The participants selected the extent to which they agreed with each of the 19 statements on a scale of 1-5 (where 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree).

The main findings from this first evaluation iteration indicated that overall the users found the application usable, but some recommendations were made for improving its interactivity and learning potential. The average scores for authenticity, interactivity and learning potential were moderate (M = 3.35; M = 3.43; M = 3.56, respectively); for navigation, the score was relatively high (M = 4.10). Participants highlighted issues, for instance, concerning the accessibility of the app (e.g., not visible error messages), missing features (e.g., exit buttons), and difficulties in interacting with the 'edit menu'. They also added suggestions for improving the app, for example, by adding more avatars, artefacts, and evaluation tools.

The strength of this VMT application lies in teachers’ ability to personalise the virtual museum in a way that addresses the classrooms’ learning aims and interests. Insights from this evaluation can contribute to the design of online virtual museum tour applications, but they also have important implications for developing other virtual tour applications for schools.

[1] Jarvis, T., & Pell, A. (2005). Factors influencing elementary school children's attitudes toward science before, during, and after a visit to the UK National Space Centre. Journal of Research in Science Teaching: The Official Journal of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, 42(1), 53-83.
[2] Li, J., Nie, J. W., & Ye, J. (2022). Evaluation of virtual tour in an online museum: Exhibition of Architecture of the Forbidden City. PloS one, 17(1), e0261607.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 88201
  • Item Type
  • Conference or Workshop Item
  • Keywords
  • Virtual reality; virtual museum tours; technology-enhanced learning; schools; museum learning
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
  • Depositing User
  • Maria Aristeidou