Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thesis abstract

The Finnish Design Museum currently offers informal educational activities for children at daycares. However, most of these activities happen at the museum’s premises in Helsinki and consequently only the daycares in the capital area can benefit from them. The difficulty of taking small children on long distance journeys restricts the access of other daycares.

This thesis describes the process of conceiving and designing an online service – Oswald and the Objects – that addresses the obstacle of distance in the access of daycares to Design Museum’s educational activities for children. The service encourages daycares to use social media and social interaction tools such as online forums, video, photo and document sharing services to connect and engage in conversation with the museum’s education team and other daycares, sharing their learning experiences, obstacles and suggestions.

The design choices and details of Oswald and the Objects are explained and documented by introducing the current specific needs of its audience, analysis of similar online services in Finland and abroad and by reflection on the experiences gained by tests conducted with an early prototype of the service. The results of the process indicate that by combining social media services, multiple media types and meaningful activities a promising alternative for increasing the reach of museum educational activities can be created. The experiences gained throughout the development of the service and the initial reactions to the final implementations indicate that daycare educators in Finland are receptive to this type of services and recognize its relevance. In order to get the most out of the service, it is important that the background experience and practices of educators in using digital media and online social interaction tools are taken into consideration when planning the several media elements of the service. However, the museum must still contemplate alternative and complementary materials to online media to ensure the access of the largest possible number of daycares to its educational activities.