As a rule of thumb, we ask our facilitators to not overlook the basics. It’s often easy to go up to a visitor and start explaining what’s going on, not realizing some things you see as basic knowledge are brand new to others. We made such assumptions during our first round of training that we needed to correct in our second round of training.
During our first training, we asked Explainers what they would like in the way of apps, videos, pics, etc and downloaded it for them. We then allowed them to try using the tablets and ipods to explain to visitors. What we found was that some youth had basic questions about how to use the tools, which we did not anticipate, because they didn’t own the technology, or they were unfamiliar with the operating system (we used both ios and android). After showing them some basics we noticed the interactions improved.
We used this to help us formulate our next training. We realized the importance of getting familiar with the different tools and operating systems. We created a write up on how to use the different tools, ran a training, and then created a “scavenger hunt” that made them use the different aspects of the tools. We then chose some basic exhibits, reviewed how they worked and asked them to practice using the tools on each other. With the basics out of the way, we noticed the conversation about apps and tools became more thoughtful. Explainers were able to more thoroughly think about what would help facilitate further learning, and new discussion about the exhibit grew out of it.
It sounds very simple and straight forward, but the importance of laying the foundation should never be overlooked.