Hello, my name is Odis Garrett, and I am a facilitator (Discovery Guide) at the Children’s Museum of Houston. 21-Tech has come a long way and I have been able to witness its development first hand. When the 21-Tech initiative was first introduced to us, I was eager to learn more about it, and to incorporate it in my daily facilitation. It seemed as if it was a plan for the future, maybe in a year or two’s time, but within months, the scripts and iPads were in our museum, and we were beginning to use this new approach for museum engagement with visitors. We were told to read over the 21-Tech script packet, and were given time to familiarize ourselves with the functions of the iPad. Then we were tested on the meaning, approach, and overall functions of 21-Tech and how we were to use the iPads for visitor engagement. However, once we began carrying iPads on the museum floor, interaction with visitors became a difficult and sometimes forced task. Along with our regular sharing of museum information, and insight we were required to integrate the iPad in a way which seemed forced.
Fortunately 21-Tech has shifted gears so to speak, and is now fulfilling a great need that the museum and staff have benefited from. Our approach has changed drastically to where we are not required to take the iPad when we are facilitating, but rather we have the opportunity to voluntarily engage with the iPad for a month and then we rotate for the next consecutive months. This allows us the chance to interact as much as we can, share experiences with one another, and analyze what we could improve on while not getting burned out. Our approach now when engaging with visitors is less strained and is simply dependent on our desire for each visitor to experience every facet of knowledge the museum has to offer.
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. 21-Tech can do nothing but improve, and I hope that each museum would get a hold of this initiative in order to reap all the benefits it has to offer.