Having found that Australian Museum visitors used social networking sites, how are they actually using these? Are they passive users or actively engaged?

Having found in our January study that 57% of our visitors had used a social network site in the previous six months, we did some further investigation into how they were actually using these sites. Are they passive users or actively engaged?

In April/May we sampled 169 visitors to the Australian Museum via a self-complete form, asking them about their usage of social networking sites, what content they were looking for on these sites, whether they had seen the Museum’s sites, how comfortable they felt with technology and how they liked to learn. The aim was to unpack the findings from the earlier study and to see whether different types of learners accessed different types of social networking sites. So, what did we find?

Use of Social Networks

  • 71% have a Facebook account / of these 45% participate daily, 15% 2-6 days a week, 15% once per week, 12% less often. For 83% the primary use of Facebook is personal
  • 70% had read a wiki, Wikipedia / of these 20% had added, edited, deleted a wiki page
  • 62% had watch a movie on YouTube / of these 7% added their own movie
  • 37% had read a blog / of these 31% have their own blog
  • 20% had viewed images on Flickr / of these 30% added their own photos
  • 7% had read a tweet / of these 67% have a Twitter account (NB low sample base)

Disappointingly, very few had seen the Museum’s social media sites. However this doesn’t surprise me as we don’t promote them at all.

General Use of Technology

  • 66% are comfortable/extremely comfortable with technology, 24% are OK with it all and 11% find it all a bit much
  • 51% described themselves as early adopters of technology, 34% dabble a bit but prefer to wait and see and 16% are later adopters

Visitors and Learning

What about their learning? Respondents were asked to rate on a scale of 1-5 the importance of the following on their learning. I’m only reporting those rated as important/very important:

  • 87% Seeing something in a different way
  • 85% Learning new facts
  • 84% Learning in a physical, “hands-on” way
  • 81% Learning when the information provided is of immediate interest to me
  • 76% Learning that builds on what I already know
  • 76% Constructing meaning based on my own experiences
  • 75% Learning that specifically fits with how I like to learn
  • 72% Learning with and through others
  • 49% Changing how I see myself
  • 41% Teacher-led learning at school/other formal place
  • 14% Being told what to learn

These statements were taken directly from my thesis, and these results match what I found – visitors want to see things in new ways, find out new facts, learn physically and with others and construct their own meanings based on prior knowledge. They do not want to be told what to learn!

Where now?

I’m going to do some cross-tabs between the learning statements and the types of social media used, as well as some demographic breakdowns. We have also sampled a further 1,000 Sydneysiders via an online survey asking the same questions and those results will be subject of a new blog post, so watch this space (but I’m not promising anything until June!).