Informing Education and Engagement through Audience Preferences for Social Mobile Technology

  Mobile Device Capturing Mural    Source: Pixabay

Mobile Device Capturing Mural

Source: Pixabay

Though social media cannot stand alone as a platform for engagement and learning in the arts, it ought to be incorporated in arts interaction and education initiatives.  Audience preference to interact and discover in a socially active environment can be supported with thoughtful integration of mobile social media. It is important that the social media be mobile (most often a personal cellphone).  The mobile element allows for real-time knowledge acquisition and socialization, which is not only a preferred method of interaction but also an element to meaningful engagement.

 It is not sufficient to copy the latest education and engagement trends.  One must also understand what a specific audience desires.  The goal is to maximize community engagement and educational impact by appealing to audience preferences in conjunction with the most effective forms of engagement and learning.  A growing preference among United States adults aged 18-65+ is the use of digital and social mobile technologies for engagement and learning.[1]For example, in Otilia Elena Platon, Catana Aida, and Caranica Cristina-Nicoleta’s study of social media tools used for learning in higher education, 88.5% of college students demonstrated a preference for social media use because of the ease of communication and 73.1% identified social media tools as opportunities for meaningful collaborative learning. [2]Arts mangers can use mobile technologies to engage, or cultivate opportunities for the collaborative work of individuals with a special interest[4]as well as educate, or assist audiences with the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience.[5]  The opportunity for social interaction is important for arts engagement and education and is easily accomplished through an informed mobile technology engagement strategy.

  Social Media Frequency in the United States    Source: Pew Research Center Apps and Social Media Climate Survey 2018

Social Media Frequency in the United States

Source: Pew Research Center Apps and Social Media Climate Survey 2018

One might wonder why social mobile technologies in particular are a good fit for audience engagement and education.  Glenda Caldwell and Marcus Foth consider elements of meaningful engagement in their investigation of media architecture and approaches to community engagement with public art.6  Their research proposes that elements for meaningful engagement require experiences be: participatory, interactive, communicative, reactive, and dynamic.6    Though their study is not focused on mobile technologies, the elements for meaningful engagement identified can be supported by mobile technology capabilities.

As demonstrated below, each element of meaningful engagement identified by Caldwell and Foth can be connected to mobile social media use.  

Participatory

With social media, audiences are active participants in the learning and engagement process.  By utilizing social media, audiences connect themselves to others by sharing their thoughts and visuals.  This type of engagement requires audience members have a basic appreciation of the art itself.  In order to share a post, audiences must consider what makes the art interesting. This allows for learning opportunities such as: why the art was created, why is it in this space, who else has been impacted by this art, etc.

Interactive and Communicative

When an audience member shares on social media, not only are they enabled to communicate their personal engagement and learning, but they also open up a conversation to their followers.  Followers can respond in a social exchange and in doing so, will be exposed to the art.  “In a time of declining in-person attendance, mediated cultural participation can help revive cultural participation”.7 Social mobile technologies allow audiences to communicate their engagement and they fulfill the audience desire to share their experience with family and friends.[6]

Reactive

Social media platforms enable audiences to publicly react to the art they are engaging with.  A positive attribute of mobile tech is that is allows real-time sharing of cultural appreciation.  The need to immediately react is why it is important that the social media platform is mobile.  Mobile social media “enables users to interact with and mobilize cultural participation”.[7]  When audiences engage with art by sharing their personal experience, they are enabled to understand and process their newfound knowledge about the art.  

 Dynamic

Social media is dynamic because it evokes responses and interaction.[8]  If users interact with a social platform with likes and shares, this is dynamic engagement. In turn, this engagement sparks an interest for learning.  As users share and like, they are consuming information about the art.  

The inclusion of mobile technologies in arts education and engagement strategies can satisfy audience desires if planned with user preference in mind.  When considering ways to engage and educate audiences, arts managers must remember that a hunger for connection and sharing is part of what fuels arts engagement.[9]  If we do not know what pathway users prefer for sharing and connection, we will lose opportunities to connect with audiences in a way that they desire.  It is important to know the most effective modes of engagement and knowledge dispersion, but this is not enough on its own. This information must be paired with a knowledge of audience preferences.  Mobile technologies have been growing in popularity and preference[1]amongst US audiences and they support the social sharing desires of some audiences, thus they will serve as a healthy supplement to education and engagement strategies.


[1]Pew Research Center. “Apps and Social Media Climate Survey.” Accessed September 27, 2018. http://www.pewinternet.org/dataset/august-2011-apps-and-sns-climate/.

[2]Otilia Elena, Platon, Caranica Cristina-Nicoleta, and Catana Aida. “Social Media Tools Used For Teaching And Learning In The Higher Education System.” Adlro, 2018. https://doi.org/10.12753/2066-026X-18-064.

[3]Otilia Elena, Platon, Caranica Cristina-Nicoleta, and Catana Aida. “Social Media Tools Used For Teaching And Learning In The Higher Education System.” Adlro, 2018. https://doi.org/10.12753/2066-026X-18-064.

[4]“What Is Community Engagement? — Center for Economic and Community Development — Penn State University.” Accessed October 21, 2018. https://aese.psu.edu/research/centers/cecd/engagement-toolbox/engagement/what-is-community-engagement.

[5]“Learning: Definition of Learning in English by Oxford Dictionaries.” Oxford Dictionaries English. Accessed October 22,2018. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/learning.

[6]Caldwell, Glenda Amayo, and Marcus Foth. “DIY Media Architecture: Open and Participatory Approaches to Community Engagement.” In Proceedings of the 2nd Media Architecture Biennale Conference on World Cities - MAB ’14, 1–10. Aarhus, Denmark: ACM Press, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1145/2682884.2682893.

[7]Chen, Wenhong. “A Moveable Feast: Do Mobile Media Technologies Mobilize or Normalize Cultural Participation?: Mobile Cultural Participation.” Human Communication Research 41, no. 1 (January 2015): 82–101. https://doi.org/10.1111/hcre.12041.

[8]“How to Create Dynamic Social Content | Marketing Insider Group,” April 11, 2016. https://marketinginsidergroup.com/content-marketing/create-dynamic-social-content/.

[9]Arts Midwest, and Metropolitan Group. “Creating Connection: Building Public Will for Arts and Culture, 2014 [United States].”[8]Arts Midwest, and Metropolitan Group. “Creating Connection: Building Public Will for Arts and Culture, 2014 [United States].” Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, 2017. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36865.v1.


 

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