The Arboretum at Penn State has decided to improve their facility with iBeacon technology. The technology will create interactive learning for children and families. The beacon will be placed on the trees, rocks, and caves.
The project will be lead by associate professors of education at Penn State, Susan Land and Heather Toomey Zimmerman. The project, funded by a Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL) Research Initiation Grant, was inspired by museums across the country — including the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State — that have been using iBeacons to enhance visitors’ experiences.
“While there’s ample opportunity for learning at The Arboretum, it’s not always visible to youth and families visiting the space,” said Land. “We want to use technology to make the most of this space and other places like it.”
The goal of this project is to enhance the user’s experience without drawing too much attention to itself. The group wanted The Arboretum to drive the experience without the user having to focus too much on the technology.
Land and Zimmerman also placed iBeacons by limestone boulders and inside a model cave for a tour they created for the Children’s Garden. The garden explores the relationship between land and water in the Centre County region. Because the iBeacons are so small, children often didn’t notice them, creating the illusion that they were interacting directly with the landscape.