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On The Ball Field With The Negro Leagues: Software Development For A Local Museum

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Programming Issues for Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.956.1 - 9.956.12



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Paper Authors

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Robert Friedman

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Jerri Drakes

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On the Ball Field with the Negro Leagues: Software Development for a Local Museum

Rob Friedman, Jerri Drakes New Jersey Institute of Technology/Little Bytes, Inc.

Research in informal learning, such as that which happens in museums, indicates that of the variety of pedagogical models available to us, a constructivist approach serves to engage learners of all ages. At the same time, finding ways to tie classroom instruction to museum experiences poses its own challenges to learning. One way to reach consistency and coherence between the classroom and museum visit experience is to involve visitors in the creation of museum exhibits. When exhibits take form in computer software, the opportunity exists to extend the development process and the scope of learning beyond the exhibit’s primary audience and build a partnership between software developers and visitors.

These learning theories and insights into technology’s role in the classroom and in the museum, coupled with a partnership among students and faculty at the New Jersey Institute of Technology; Little Bytes, an educational product developer; and St. Philips Academy, an independent primary school in Newark, serve as the foundation for a comprehensive multiyear program in multimedia learning systems that brings college seniors studying software engineering together with primary school students and teachers in an effort to provide educational software, involving all students in authentic learning situations by having them participate in all phases of the software engineering lifecycle. Through a development process known as participatory design, curators from The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Montclair, NJ teamed with 5th graders from St. Philip’s Academy and undergraduates from New Jersey Institute of Technology to produce interactive software that assists visitors to the museum learn about the history of the Negro Leagues through chronology and biography; learn about statistics and probability through the databases that draw on records of individual players from the Negro Leagues; and learn about the geography of the state of New Jersey and much of the eastern US through the location of baseball fields and the travel routes between them.

Jonassen and Reeves 32 make the point that "the real power of computers to improve education will only be realized when students actively use them as cognitive tools rather than passively perceive them as tutors or repositories of information" (696). Johnson, et al 30 restate the premises of participatory design in concrete terms. “Participatory design rejects the assumption that designers design and users use, assuming instead that unless representative users are among the designers, it is unlikely that the system will make adequate use of the users’ skills and talents or provide good support for their tasks” (141). “Established models for project organization, project work, work analysis, etc. are commonly based on the implicit assumptions that the necessary knowledge somehow exists, making the process of designing a system mainly a matter of extracting the knowledge from the participants, be it users or developers. More often than not, these assumptions do not hold. Therefore, development projects need to be

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Friedman, R., & Drakes, J. (2004, June), On The Ball Field With The Negro Leagues: Software Development For A Local Museum Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--12791

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