From living to virtual: Learning from museum objects
Interactive museum exhibits have increasingly placed replicated and virtual objects alongside exhibited authentic objects. Yet little is known about how these three categories of objects impact learning. This study of family learning in a botanical garden specifically focuses on how 12 parent-child family units used explanations as they engaged with three plant types: living, model, and virtual. Family conversations were videotaped, transcribed, and coded. Findings suggested that: 1) explanations of biological processes were more frequent than other types; 2) model and virtual plants supported more process explanations than did the living plants; 3) the model plant supported more references to school than did the living and virtual plants; and 4) the living plant supported more references to everyday experiences than did the virtual plant.