The Franklin Institute Inspirations #educon

photo-jan-26-2-33-01-pmThe Franklin Institute in Philadelphia contains great instructional designs. Museums, by their nature, offer an immersive learning experience, and many combine technology with physical objects and interactives that intensify the experience. But the Franklin Institute is especially clever. A couple exhibits’ designs were specifically interesting.

Brain Scan

Here, there is a model of an MRI scanner. The visitor moves the scanner up and down to change which specific section of the brain is scanned. Obviously, this isn’t happening in real time. The simulation gives agency to the learner, both in that the learner is able to pace the content delivery and by putting the visitor in the role of the neuroscientist. Empowering squared!

While I can’t think of a face-to-face classroom application that doesn’t involve some savvy technology skills, there is a direct way to incorporate this idea into e-learning. A slider bar is placed over a model. Each change in the trigger value changes the display image.


Modified: “The three types of BMC shell proteins” By Seth Axen, Markus Sutter, Sarah Newnham, Clement Aussignargues, and Cheryl Kerfeld –, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Facilitating Discussions

The last room in the exhibition space featured a VR movie describing how doctors use VR to interact and view 3D models of brains before operating on them. I suspect this room can become crowded with people waiting for available viewers. To accommodate visitors, there was a discussion station so people could talk with each other as they killed time.

Many of the exhibits asked visitors to complete an activity with a friend, but this one caught my eye as specifically good for classroom integration. Essentially, each discussion card is a self-paced nugget of information or discussion prompt, except for one card, which has a story specific to that stack.


A similar design could be used to share case studies, math problems/graphs, or primary documents. Going further, the stacks could exceed five cards and use game mechanics to prompt participants to draw more information, discussion questions, etc.

Two designs definitely worth sharing!

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