Graduation Year

2003

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Anthropology

Major Professor

Bird, S. Elizabeth

Co-Major Professor

Weisman, Brent R.

Keywords

museum anthropology, multimedia design and development

Abstract

Computer-based multimedia offer an alternative means of providing instruction to learners in two primary, yet disparate, ways. Multimedia can be used to convey information to learners, or alternatively, learners can make use of multimedia to impart information. One example of the use of multimedia technologies at the University of South Florida is an interactive computer kiosk installed in the Anthropology Exhibit Gallery. The development of the educational program featured on the kiosk's touchscreen computer is the subject of this paper. The purpose of the kiosk's program was twofold: 1) to introduce the field of anthropology to university students and the general public who visit the Anthropology Exhibit Gallery; and 2) to incorporate training in the creation of multimedia materials into two departmental project-based courses, Museum Methods and Visual Anthropology.

Designing effective educational programs that take advantage of multimedia capabilities without losing focus on the user's needs or on the content being presented is a challenging endeavor. In this paper, I present the process of designing an interactive multimedia program, and discuss the critical issues of audience, hardware and software, programming tools and other technical and design considerations. The development of the program, furthermore, must be understood within the broader context of several areas, including anthropology and museums, the role of education in museums, and exhibitions as a form of media and communication. Finally, a summary of the project is presented, including a discussion of the problems and successes encountered and suggested areas for further development.

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