Virtual museum study approach – my dissertation plan B under the Covid-19 2nd outburst

Things are changing quickly especially the impacts of Covid-19 on the research plan. Originally, I planned to start my pilot study in July in Taiwan. And I planned to start my Phase I and II study in early September or mid-December based on Taiwan’s cooperating school’s curriculum. Also, the study in the western U.S. will be conducted in August at Hatfield Marine Center and at cooperating schools after the school year starts (September). Schools in both Taiwan and the western U.S. will be those that cooperate with the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium (Taiwan) and the Hatfield Marine Science Center (US). As for the phase III study, I decided to conduct the interview in December or early January of next year (both Taiwan and the western U.S.). However, the timeline above is under an ideal situation. Because of the pandemic worldwide, my research plan should be flexible to change so the research team has had several meetings to discuss a plan B for my research plan.

Overall, the contexts of the three-phase studies in plan B will stay the same. The only difference is that these studies will be done online. Specifically, we will set up a website consisting of links to the phase I survey, phase II PMM pre-test, local marine issues (e.g., outreach videos, interactive online activities, photos, etc.), and phase II PMM post-test. As for phase III in-depth interview, the selected subjects (the same selection methods in the original research plan) will receive an email asking whether they would be willing to participate in the last phase of the study – in-depth interview – through zoom. The link (or QR code) of the website will be sent to teachers (schools) who cooperate with the museums or aquariums to ask them to share with the potential subjects (i.e., early adolescents) who would like to participate in this research.

Since the mutate Covid-19 is happening now in Asia including Taiwan, I am now setting an online outreach website. I first constructed the website framework and asked the technical team to set it up for me. After the team sends me the sketch of the website, I will discuss it with aquarium curators and educators (especially environmental educators) to see what should be added or deleted on my website. It will be interesting to do an online PMM since the participants could choose different types of marine issues that they would like to learn more about. And this could be a precious opportunity to study cultural impacts on the public’s perceptions and interests on these issues even though some of the issues are not local.

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