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

Format of Content

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How content is presented is just as important as what the content is.  As I gathered information to use as content I also looked at how I should format it.  Should I put long detailed text blocks in?  Short simplified pieces?  Should I use picture, videos, or audio as well?  During the evaluations I used many formats to see what worked and what didn’t.

Pictures vs. Videos vs. Audio

While developing the content for our App I created several videos and audio files in addition to pictures.  I initially thought that people would like the videos a lot and use them and the audio.  It seems my prediction is wrong.  Based on the feedback from evaluations so far visitors using the App do not use the videos or audio and focus mostly on the text and pictures.  I have collected only limited information about home use of the App so far, so I don’t know if the non-use of video/audio is purely a function of being at the museum or if people simply don’t use that option in an App like this.

During the next Cycle I will be asking visitors about this to try to find out:

1) Do they use videos/audio?  Why or why not?

2) Was the format of the App affecting this?

3) What would make visitors more/less likely to use these options?

Figuring out if people want video/audio, and what format they want it in will go a long way towards allowing us to make a great App that people want to use.


Formatting of text in posts

The evaluations results have shown me that HOW content is presented is just as important as WHAT the content actually is.  During Cycle 1 when I was still in the process of developing the bulk of the content for the App there was a mix of posts; some with large texts blocks and some with less text and additional images/videos/audio.  It became clear from the responses of visitors that the large text blocks didn’t work.  Since then I have found that the following points work best:

1) Shorter, simpler explanations are preferred to large technical ones.

2) Accompanying images were very well received.  There hasn’t been a preferred layout of the combination text/images to emerge.

3) Equations, especially large complicated ones, are a no no!

4)  As mentioned in the picture/videos/audio section, it is unclear whether or how video/audio is used by visitors in the App.

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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.

Major funding provided by:

Additional support provided by: