Mobile Devices: engaging your audience on the go.

Digital Futures Training Programme Museum of London
Mobile Devices: engaging your audience on the Go.

I attended a half day training course at the Museum of London. These are some notes I made, It was give by Rhiannon Looseley, and Josh Blair from Museum of London Digital Learning and organised by Alec Ward. Any mistakes in these notes are mine and this has not been proof read or approved by them.

Summary – the training showed how easy it was to include a digital element to educational workshops. There are lots of free apps which can be used for creative elements of a workshop. The apps are so simple that they hardly need to be taught, and in a 20 minute section of a workshop can help reinforce learning in a fun way and which will allow the participants to take something home to show or share with friends and parents. Ideas were also given as to how additional content to a visit can be created using digital.

Don't do Digital for Digital's Sake

Why its good for engaging young people:
      1. Digital can engage and excite some young people
      2. Allows for different learning styles
      3. Active learning
      4. Portable and moveable around the museum
      5. Can mix with other activities, like object handling, drawing, drama, story-telling etc.
      6. Can combine Film, animation, collage, audio, etc.

Examples for use in Workshops – these examples were on I pads but Android could also be used. Participants could work one per iPad or share 2 or 3 per iPad. So for a group of 15 might need 5 tablets. But of course it could be set up for people to bring their own devices.

App – Pix Collage – this is a free app

The app makes it easy to make picture collages.
Session might start with object handling session on say Victorian nursing
Then participants create a collage using historic photos of nurses and wards and medical objects and also using the the iPad cameras in the museum
The software is very easy to use, and can be taught in less than 5 minutes
Creation of collage reinforces the learning and gives students something to take away

App – animate-it – Cost £1.49

This is a very simple animation programme. It is again very easy to use and allows the participant to make 20 sec animations using 100 stop motion photographs.
Session might start with story of the Great Fire of London.
Then, in groups, students create an animation of a story they make up about the Great Fire.
They would be given some resources – background photos for example, and either Lego figures or perhaps play-dough, or pencil and drawing to create a simple stop motion animation. Normally done in teams, a director, a camera person, and the person who moves/models/or draws the figures.

The software is very easy to use, and can be taught in less than 5 minutes and animation could be done in 20 minutes
Creation of collage reinforces the learning and gives students something to take away
App – Photo layers – free app


This is a very simple image creation programme. It is again very easy to use and allows the participant to make green screen images in 20 minutes or so.
Session might start with Operation Demo.
Then participants create an image in which they place themselves into an historic scene. For example, give them an operation scene and they can add themselves as observer, surgeon or patient.

The tablet is supplied with suitable background photos. The students take photograph of themselves possibly in costume against a green screen. (portable green screens cost around £100). Using the App, the historic photo is imported as the background, and the green screen image of the student is edited to get rid of the green background to leave the image of the student who can then be imported to become part of the background scene. This creates a realistic image of the past with the student included in it.

The software is slightly more complicated to use, but still easy and images could be done in 20 minutes or less
The green screen could also be used by ordinary visitors to create a postcard to send home (perhaps for a fee).

Part 2 Using Devices to provide additional content in the displays

Several ways have been tried:

  1. QR codes. A black and white 'bar-code' like square is used to display additional content via the visitor's internet browsers to the web page associated with the object. Problems are installing readers of users phones, and the need for good Wifi. But easy way of giving visitors extra information about objects
  2. I beacon – becoming fashionable. A device is located at the display and it pushes a message to the users phone or iPad by blue-tooth. I beacons cost £100+ for a pack of 20 or so. The Hidden Museum was a ibeacon project in Bristol Museum done with Ardman animations
  3. Txting/Whatsapping interaction. Brooklyn Museum did a AsktheCurator session in which visitors could whatsapp or txt curators for information on museum objects at particular times of the day or on special occasions. The Horniman did something similar. The BM had a Whatsapp game where families were sent on tasks around the museum by a Games Master and they sent images of the success of their quests to each other via whatsapp, and the games mistress gave them marks for achievement. Tasks were not 'intellectual' as such but might be something find a happy object or a green object.
  4. Virtual Reality Breadcrumbsgame,com set up treasure trails for museums and Gamar are doing VR tours for museums. Project Tango: Google's VR tour offering is being developed/ Singapore Art Gallery created an amazing Sumatran Tiger VR tour. Blippar is another one. Pokomon Go was used by Birmingham Museum who encouraged the pokomon go community into the museum at lunch times.
  5. Guided tour software Izutravel and Geotour are two examples of software to create guided tours
  6. Create your own app Is it worth it? High cost and lots of free stuff out there to mash up your own without the development costs. But special (and well funded projects can argue a special case.)

Issues


Do you buy equipment or get people to use their own (BYOD)? Schools have equipment but will they remember to bring them, and will they pre-load the software reliably? Equipment needs to be set up, maintained and cleaned afterwards physically and of any trace of the schoolchildren, so images and emails need to be deleted etc. to safeguard the children.
Copyright Infringement Risk, if you use museum objects and images do you have copyright permission? Are you happy to take the risk that a participant will abuse the copyright? Are you insured for copyright infringement fines?
Do you ask for a deposit for loan of the iPad? Will parents want their children to use their iPad?

Kevin Flude
10th Nov 2017



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