21-Tech

The 21-Tech initiative has allowed me as a Discovery Guide to push myself further on how much information I can process and share with each visitor I encounter.- Odis Garrett, Children’s Museum of Houston Discovery Guide
21-Tech is a bridge between our museum guides and the visitors in that it creates connections between educational concepts and the real world.- Shawn Waxali, Children’s Museum of Houston Discovery Guide
21-Tech has helped Discovery Guides engage visitors by extending their experience through the apps and applying it to the exhibits.- Ian Tibby, Children's Museum of Houston Discovery Guide
21-Tech is a way of ‘hiding the vegetables in the fruit’ where the kids do not realize they are learning, but instead having fun and being fed knowledge that intrigues their minds.- Lauren Bell, Children's Museum of Houston Discovery Guide
21-Tech provides a new outlet for our Discovery Guides to interact with the visitors in a way that further enhances their experience and makes the visit overall extra enjoyable.- Sylvia Garcia, Children's Museum of Houston Discovery Guide

Lessons learned from running trainings

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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.

  1. September 11, 2012

    Anita Vyas

    The ‘scavenger hunt’ sounds like a great idea, Sookram! Was this an online scavenger hunt? Please share that info if you can. It seems like a good plan to have facilitators familiarize themselves with the device.

  2. November 15, 2012

    Neelam Damani

    Yup, Anita and I are looking into creating a scavenger hunt of sorts — basically, to help DGs understand the app/exhibit connection during our trainings. We would love to see a copy of your scavenger hunt! Also, we’ve found that focusing on a few exhibits, and allowing DGs ample time to role-play before interacting with visitors is extremely useful. They must be given time to learn the content themselves before they can teach it to others.

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Project Brief

21-Tech partners study and share the effective use of Personal Mobile Technologies (PMTs) by gallery facilitators in their work with visitors. The initial three years (2011-2013) of 21-Tech are funded in large part by a 21st Century Museum Professionals award from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The project is led by the Children’s Museum of Houston in partnership with Lawrence Hall of Science, New York Hall of Science, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and Sciencenter. For more information, please visit the About page.

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