Technology-enhanced Informal Learning for San Diego Zoo Visitors: Results of a Quasi-Experimental Program Evaluation

ID: 53701 Type: Full Paper
  1. James Marshall, San Diego State University, United States

Wednesday, October 17 1:45 PM-2:15 PM Location: Las Vegas Ballroom 2 View on map

Presider: Lisa Lundgren, North Carolina State University, United States

Abstract: Learning professionals have long been challenged to apply strategies that effectively, and efficiently, place content into learners’ minds. Knowledge is typically the antecedent of action and application. Organizations that rely on informal learning opportunities face greater challenges. The San Diego Zoo’s vision is to “lead the fight against extinction.” It seeks to educate, and call to action, the more than 3.2 million visitors that pass through its gates annually. But opportunities for visitors to receive and retain key messages can be challenged by the frenetic environment. The Centennial Theater was established as a means of supporting consistent interpretive messaging with multiple iterations. Prior to boarding a bus for the 35-minute guided tour, guests watched a multi-screen, professionally produced video that highlighted the organization’s global conservation work through the story of an endangered animal. The video’s key messages were then reinforced by the bus tour guide. Results indicate greater recall of key messages for visitors who viewed the video prior to their tour, relative to visitors in a comparison group who received only the tour. This evaluation provides an applied example that extends previous research regarding the impact of blended strategies in dynamic, informal learning environments.

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