An informal learning experience

The Fort Worth Zoo’s Museum of Living Art (MOLA) is the Zoo’s newly rebuilt herpetarium. The installation has the dual purpose of spearheading the Zoo’s conservation efforts and educating visitors about reptiles and amphibians. While visitors are highly interested in, and engaged by viewing the animals themselves, the conservation message seems to be getting lost, in part because of the way families are moving around in the exhibit. Visitors generally “window shop,” seeing if they can see the animals, taking pictures, and moving on. Signage, kiosks, and current materials relating to conservation, though attractively designed, don’t appear to be engaging and keeping visitors’ attentions. As part of an informal learning project, I challenged myself to enhance this experience.

Using an Evaluation Logic Model Worksheet from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as a guide, I undertook a detailed analysis of the informal learning needs of the target audience for this project. I created a plan to develop a mobile learning experience, enhanced kiosks, and an alternate reality game to provide a fun and social way for visitors to engage and become members of a life-long learning community supporting, and supported by, the MOLA.

As I created this project, I learned that there’s a great deal of synergy between informal learning issues centered on museum and zoo exhibits and informal learning in the workplace. I learned that exhibit objects are imbued with multiple levels of meaning and that it’s an exciting challenge for instructional designers to reveal that meaning to others.

informal learning project treatment

This project is a treatment and is neither sponsored
nor endorsed by the MOLA.


Outcomes logic model used to plan the treatment: OLM