As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds innovative research, approaches, and resources for use in a variety of settings. The project will bring together science museum visitor experience developers, visitor studies staff, indoor location technology developers, cyber-learning researchers, and STEM informal learning specialists for a two day conference, COMPASS (Conference on Mobile Position Awareness Systems and Solutions), to address the achievements and potential of indoor location aware mobile (ILAM) technology in science museums. The pre-conference work, the conference itself, and a subsequent e-publication will provide multiple, informed perspectives and knowledge around ILAM for science museums to develop apps for visitors' own smartphones to enhance and personalize the visitor experience and to experiment with new kinds of inquiry-based learning. The goals of the conference are to form an integrated vision by consolidating expertise from disparate disciplines connected to ILAM tech development, to transform visitor mobile tools to provide more innovative forms of interaction and personalization, and to open new avenues for visitor research with automated data collection and analysis.
The COMPASS conference will bring together 80 participants for two days in September 2018 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA. The first dissemination will take place in a presentation at the ASTC conference the following month in October 2018. A webinar sharing insights from COMPASS and inviting others to engage will be held in March 2019 hosted by ASTC and accessible by ASTC members and non-members alike. A companion COMPASS e-publication will be released for free download, also in March 2019, with summaries of conference proceedings, key issues identified, case histories of ILAM in museums, white papers and other resources. Conference outcomes include establishing a community of practice or special interest group and establishing common goals for future collaborative work. By gathering a diverse range of perspectives and expertise to share research and evidence based findings, COMPASS include collective problem solving and an informed cross disciplinary approach to planning and implementing ILAM technology in the museum environment. The conference will explicitly address the benefits and quality of open source code and protocols and how techniques could be shared among institutions. As professional experience with deploying ILAM apps grows, this tool could be used to increase accessibility for diverse visitor populations, put in use at smaller and medium sized science centers, and applied to a variety of research studies, increasing the impact for funders and benefiting the science center community at large.
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