Archive for May, 2009

I think I am going to blow away !

Posted in meet the geevor staff on May 26, 2009 by geevor

Claire SSo I can’t believe it has been a month and a bit since I started here! It has flown past in a blur of tours and taking in ALOT of information! It’s been a brilliant month I have learnt so much about the site and its history, everyone working here has been really helpful in answering my never-ending questions! I also now have my own desk due to the reshuffle. . . .very exciting in my world!

The best bit so far (other than the desk!)  has been having the school groups in where they have a tour around the site and a go at hand drilling. All children are convinced that the spare wheel in the winder house when dismantled and folded in half is a Jacuzzi!! Seeing the kids on the site has made me realise that learning in-situ really brings history to life. Looking forward to the next lot!!

Been developing ideas to get more people using the Biodiversity Trail and how this can link in with workshops we run on site and events. Realised that it is really weather dependant as I stood on a wildlife walk in sideways rain, thick fog and howling gales! Am working on it!!

Who’s Claire S?  find about more!

not to be confused with Claire R (its very easily done, same name, same office, same phoneline…)

E-learning: Engaging users? Users Engaging?

Posted in 1, meet the geevor staff on May 26, 2009 by geevor

claire rLast week I was up in London for an E-Learning Group event called Engaging Users: Users Engaging. I love being on trains you see, so any chance I get to be on a train for 5 and a half hours is a must….

It brought about some very interesting concepts and ideas ( I’ll write a little bit about the day itself in a bit).  For me the event bought home the fact that there are so many ideas about what e-learning is and what’s its supposed to do within the discipline itself, goodness only knows what ‘normal’ people think its all about!

So what is e-learning?

This question has a variety of different answers depending on who you ask.  Most revolve around the use of technology – e= electronic -, some say its about management of resources, or motivating students.  Others believe it is still heavily involved in the dreaded ‘EDUCATION’ system.  I however, have a different opinion.

I see e-learning as enhanced learning, and yes this is usually supported by/through the use of information and communication technology.  But I don’t necessarily see learning as didactic, that it must have a clear end goal which is measurable.  Flipping online quizzes to ‘see how much you’ve learnt’ make me a little crazy!  In my eyes learning is all about the experience of gaining something new, whether it be a feeling, an emotion or even a fact.

It is often perceived that e-learning is dull and boring.

To some extend that has been the case in the past (putting lecture notes on blackboard or moodle is not e-learning, its boring and unimaginative (shame on you people- you know who you are…).

The e-learning group for museums, libraries and archives and other e-learning designers are trying to tackle this assumption head on:

“There is no such thing as Dull Learning”. (Patrick Dunn 2009).

Therefore an event discussing the ability to engage users in learning is brilliant!

Basically, people need fun, interaction and a multi sensory environment in order to be actively engaged in a learning experience. Right?  Well that’s what I think.  I might not be right, but I am very stubborn and am likely to stomp my foot if you don’t like my version…

Ok, so… developing engaging e-learning is all about appropriate use of methods and media in order to inspire users, it is not about it is not about the transmission and receipt of facts.  So…if we’re aiming to produce engaging e-learning, we need design processes that are intended to…….produce engaging e-learning.   Frankie Roberto gave us 8 (and 3 ideas):

  1. Identify ‘design patterns’ for online social interactions and use appropriately (brilliantly simple example of traffic lights red =stop, green=go – don’t reinvent the wheel,  use something that users are already familiar with)
  2. Design something that meets a user ‘need’ (what are your users needs? How to approach it and what benefits are there)
  3. Design for ‘sharing’ appeal (design something that people will want to share! – this to me is quite a tricky one)
  4. Decided on quantity vs quality of contributions (do you want a small number of highly engaged users or lots of users not really engaging?)
  5. Pick platforms based upon the activities they encourage and social norms (many platforms have the same functionality- what activities do they encourage and how are they used (facebook-flickr etc).  Use what ever platform you are comfy with)
  6. Define your key verb ( be it share, edit, upload, update… Geevor’s is soon to be explore)
  7. Design for perceive visual ‘affordances’ (a picture paints a thousand words- seeing something is quicker to understand then reading. very handy on the web- buttons are a visual clue to show that they are meant to be clicked…)
  8. Align content licensing with user expectations (boring but important bit about copyright and what’s appropriate for your institution and your users)

Next up was a case study from the National Archives.  It’s always great to hear from the archives people, its often thought that its just museums getting involved in the whole idea of engaging users but that’s not the case at all!  Your Archives is the National Archives wiki, its pretty cool that you can search British History records and even update them yourself.

Then came Do you live here? From the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery who used postcards from their collections and created a website which linked the postcard to the real location and the community surrounding it.

Next was Caboodle from Culture 24. It hopes to give young children the role of a collector of their favourite things in a safe and moderated environment… I don’t quite understand it yet, but it has a cool name, which makes me want to know how to caboodle, and when it goes live I’m definitely going to have a play!

Then it was the turn of Creative Spaces. From the presentation I have learnt several things about creative spaces.  9 of the national museums collectively have a lot of stuff.  A lot of stuff that people are interested in.  A lot of stuff that people want to use in different ways.  Therefore creative spaces was created to engage new and old users with the ‘lots of stuff’ in the collections. Tick. And to ‘increase traffic to partner museums’. Odd. No tick for you. Anyway, it does ask a very very cool question to its users: “what are you inspired by today?” and for that all the debates about whether Creative Spaces is a good thing or a bad thing should be forgotten.

Finally was my favourite.  My Brighton and Hove. This is a community website which has a mammoth uptake and the majority of the content is public generated and everyone, and I mean everyone seems to be engaged in it.  Its been up and running for 9 years and it is growing organically! This is something that I can only dream of at the moment! Its awesome!  Jack Latimer from the company who helped set up the site had some very useful pointers when setting up community sites:

  1. Formal material (like catalogue entries and oral histories) generated far less response than informal peer to peer material
  2. Give the site a human face, not an institutional one
  3. Volunteer projects have a larger shelf life then ones with paid staff
  4. Moderating contributions is less problematic then you think
  5. A steady flow of uploaded content is better than all then nothing.
  6. There is no relation between the beauty of graphics and rate of contribution.

After all of that does geevor’s e-learning approach have what it takes to be an engaging experience for its users? I jolly well hope so.  Other museums and archives have done it! will I be able to achieve it!? only time will tell… fingers crossed. Rant off.

What’s Jo W been up to?

Posted in 1, meet the geevor staff on May 13, 2009 by geevor

jo wNevermind April in Paris, how about April at Geevor?….

another very busy month. The highlight was step 2 in our collections management storage strategy – clearing out the boiler room. The aim of this was to create a central store for objects that are currently scattered on desks and in cupboards around the site. The reality was disgustingly dirty and resulted in a good telling off by Pat our cleaner (and rightly so). I have learnt a clever cleaning trick from Nick T since starting at Geevor – don’t sweep, hoover! We (Bill, Nick and I) spent at least 6 hours Bill boiler roomhoovering dust, cobwebs and rust at least 2cm thick (no joke!).  We were covered in it – in our hair and up our noses. Bill also very kindly repaired some of the gaps at the bottom of the door to stop the rain blowing in. Unbenknownst to me, out of sheer exhaustion, Nick T returned the hoover still full of the dust cobwebs etc to Pat’s cupboard…mistake….Pat couldn’t even lift the hoover the next day…luckily she saw the funny side and we helped empty it.

In amongst the dirt were some nice bits of mining history, including several horsehoe-shaped irons off of the bottom of clogs – some very small and probably belonging to children. Hope to put some of these discoveries on display in the new museum. Also lots of tools and four candles. Endless amounts of laughter about the fork handle/four Nick T shelvescandles joke. A good day’s work, but only about 30% complete.

The oral history volunteers have moved office and are now equipped with a new printer….hurrah! Their old abode was over crowded and noisy so I suggested a termporary relocation. They now have the best office on site…!!! We have some really interesting stories to follow up on and have set the project up with its own email address…

Also we had the first glimpses of our new geevor website – Hurrah! It’s great, and will be super. Has all the right info in the right order, and looks super with brand colours, logo and stunning images. However, a heap more work coming my way methinks….

Bish Bash Bosh

Posted in Events on May 13, 2009 by geevor

surfing tommies A4 no text-1 copySurfing Tommies at Geevor

Described as Cornish National Theatre at its very best, local theatre company, Bish Bash Bosh, is set to perform its latest production, ‘Surfing Tommies’, on the tin floors of Geevor Tin Mine’s old processing mill.

The one-off performance of Alan M Kent’s rousing new play is due to take place on Tuesday, June 9th at  Geevor, beginning at 7.30pm.

Set around the First World War, the drama follows the lives of three members of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry on an incredible journey from the mines of Cornwall to the fields of Flanders and home again. Along the way they meet mazed beauties, mad male-voice choirs and the first surfers neatly taking to the waves on coffin lids.

Though set in the early twentieth century, this darkly mischievous play makes comment on current conflicts around the world, and what it is like to be away from where you were brought up.

Tickets for the play cost £7, £6 concessions and £5 for children under 16 and are available from the mine’s reception. For more details contact 01736 788662.

I spy, mines, flash Interactives and live interpretation

Posted in meet the geevor staff on May 11, 2009 by geevor

claire r

apologies for the long blog post!

I’ve been off adventuring over the past couple of weeks; most of it not work related but anyway.  I had some fabulous meetings with my e-learning guys Ian, Mike, and the newly titled ‘web innovator’ Rich (I’m not sure that’s the correct title but how cool is a job to be innovative with the web!).  Their approach to web development and e-learning is a breath of fresh air compared to some of the other parts of my project and its really nice to go up to Exeter and throw around ideas and to see what they come back with.  I’ve even managed to learn a little bit of code because of them, and I owe them an awful lot, so thank you!

CIMG1562As well as talking about flash Interactives and web design over the last 2 weeks, I went up to Nottingham to visit my boyfriend Matt.  He works for the coal authority, yes we both work in mines, yes we’re a big geeky couple, and yes we have endless debates about what is better tin mining or coal mining.  Whilst I was there, we did plenty of I-spying…. Quite a few people have been sent Michelin I Spy books, with the quest to complete the whole book.  My book quite aptly is ‘I spy below your feet’.  Because I’m very competitive and once a quest is set I go for it wholeheartedly, Matt and I ended up galavanting all over Nottinghamshire and the peak district in order to spy as many things as possible! It was great fun! Why am I telling you this? Well the process of I spy has lead to several interesting things:

Firstly:I Spy is awesome! Especially when you have obscure things to spy like drain covers and stink pipes! There are so many different types, shapes and sizes.  It really makes you pay more attention to your surroundings when you’re looking for something specific.  This is something that I think would work really well at Geevor.  Geevor is a massive site with so many interesting things to look at.  However some of it tends to get passed by on the way to the underground or to the new museum (both very good, I’m not trying to discourage people from going to either of these things- but I want people to be aware of the other gems that Geevor holds too).  Would an “I spy at Geevor” work? Would visitors take to it with the same va va voom as I have? Or am I just weird?   I think it would work, Geevor has done trails and hunts in the past but they have been orientated towards younger children.  From my I spy experiences it is something much more then a children’s activity it has potential for all ages.  Everyone loves a challenge.   it is also something that has potential web links, like what the London Transport Museum did with their scavenger hunt on flickr.  One of the major parts of my e-learning project is to link back to the actual real I am Geevor site as much as possible, and potentially with ‘I spy Geevor ‘the site could link back to the e-learning and flickr group I’ve created…. The idea has been suggested we shall wait and see if anything comes of it! I hope so!

Secondly: Matt and I went to the City of Caves in Nottingham.  There is a whole seires of man made sandstone caves underneath present day Nottingham.  The ones we visited were underneath the Broadmarsh shoppingcentre.  The caves were used for housing as early as the 11th century, and troglodytes were recorded in the 17th century.  These caves have a long a varied history.  This cool history is not the only thing that is good about these caves.  What I really enjoyed with the interpretation! More and more museums are now turning to active communication over passive communication, as well as realising the importance of inspiring and engaging their visitors as well as helping them to learn about the past/science/something etc.  I think the City of Caves did this brilliantly! Why?  They had live interpretation/living history/historical interpretation/ what ever you want to call it, and it was fantastic! I am a firm believer in good interpretation leading to a better visitor experiences not just enhanced visitor learning.

photo1113We entered the caves, full of trepidation (their was eerie music and I have a very over active imagination) wandered around in the caves following the instructions given to us by the man upstairs “turn left, do not turn right.  If you turn right we will lose you and you will never escape the maze of caves.  Remember DO NOT TURN RIGHT”.  This made both matt and I really want to turn right, but we behaved and went left and ended up in a 13th Century tannery.  We were told to wait.  We waited. And waited.  And eventually an old lady appeared behind a Hessian curtain, dressed in rags and a leather apron and looking generally haggard and filthy.  She then treated us like hopeful apprentices for the job of a tanner, and went through the roles of the job and what would be produced at the end.  It was fantastic! However the majority of the group being terribly English there wasn’t much interaction apart from me answering all of her questions, unfortunately she didn’t think I would get the job because I needed to “put a bit of fat on” otherwise I wouldn’t be able lift the barrels of wee to tan the animal skins.  Needless to say I was very disappointed to not be offered the job.  But the fact that I, as a visitor, was given a role play in a historical narrative was a really interesting experience.  All the previous live interpretation I have seen or interacted with has been almost like a window into the past, I was still an outsider looking in.  With this I was there I was a part of the process and it was brilliant! Without this live ‘tanner’ telling us things, we would of simply have been standing on a walkway above all be it very well preserved remains of a 13th century tannery in a cave, to a non archaeologist they are just a series of pits in a sandstone cave.  Would an interpretation panel be able to portray what working in a tannery would have been like or how the tannery would have worked?

Basically Live interpretation has much to offer and can not simply be dismissed as a gimmick.  It works, I learnt a lot, I was engaged and I was inspired.  In fact I was giddy for a good while afterwards going on and on about how cool it was to be talked to be a person from the past!

What’s coming up in May…

Posted in Events on May 7, 2009 by geevor

danger-400Geevor  will be warming up for the summer season with an exciting programme of special events this month

Behind the Scenes!

For the first time ever, mine staff will be allowing visitors into a number of buildings not normally open to the public in a Behind the Scenes Tour that will allow visitors to see first hand the backstage curatorial and conservation work of a landmark heritage site.

The strong room houses maps and plans and the archive holds the paper archive from the mine, including valuable engineering instructions and the staff time books in which miners detailed working hours, productivity and pay.  Downstairs in the winderhouse, not normally accessible, there is a unique view of the huge winders from underneath.  The old stores are packed with equipment, tools and mining paraphernalia and visitors will also be able to see parts of the old mill that are usually closed because they are tricky to negotiate unaided, and Jim Vincent’s Store, the oldest building on site, which was originally built as stables for the mine’s working horses.

The tours are part of Community History Month and will take place on Wednesday 13th of May 2-4pm and Sunday 17th of May 11.30am-1.30pm. Site managers are hoping that as well as being enjoyable the experience might also inspire visitors to join the team of Geevor volunteers. The tours themselves are free and all participants will be entitled to half price site entry that day.

Mining History Trail

On Sunday 24th May, Geevor will also be reintroducing an attraction designed for mining and heritage enthusiasts. Interested visitors will be able to be buy a guide for the Mining History Trail from reception for £1.50. The pamphlet directs them beyond the mine buildings into the wider site, surrounding countryside and towards Levant Mine – home of Cornwall’s only remaining working Beam Engine – giving details and directions that will illustrate the fascinating industrial heritage of the area.

Want to know more? then contact us 01736788662  or at


Posted in 1, meet the geevor staff on May 6, 2009 by geevor

mineral-gallery-listThe learning team is up against a tight deadline at the moment to get all the information ready to re-launch our learning activities in a new style alongside the E-Learning website launch in August. It has been a brilliant opportunity to really think about what we really want to do and what our aspirations are. I am really excited about this launch. The E-Learning website is going to be such a brilliant resource for the schools that use us. It is going to really help extend and expand upon the learning that takes place on the site. The only downside of its completion is that we will lose Claire Ross, who has not only been responsible for the whole project, but whose skills, enthusiasm and friendship will be missed by the rest of the learning team. I am hoping that her electronic knowhow will mean she can set up a virtual office where ever she goes next, so she will still be available for me to hassle with questions and queries.

Workshop development

Posted in meet the geevor staff on May 6, 2009 by geevor

I have been redeveloping one of our workshops called light and dark as assistant curator Nick T. has found some really interesting artifacts for us that suggest all sorts of exiting activities. My main problem being finding a suitable dark area on site for these activities to take place. Who would think that would ever be the case at a mine.  Last week I thought I may have discovered a perfect space that only needs a little bit or organizing to make suitable. Geevor is such a huge site that even after working here for 3 years there are still new rooms building and spaces that I have yet to discover and this one is a real beauty. I don’t want to say too much about it at the moment I case it turns out not to be suitable.

Scrap heap challenge tidy up

Posted in meet the geevor staff on May 6, 2009 by geevor

jo bI’ve got a few minutes to update my blog between setting up for the school coming today( involving putting out handling objects in the Hard Rock Museum and getting hard hats out)and the school arriving. On days when schools are in it can be very difficult to get any other tasks done. 

 We have been so inundated with schools in that it has taken me up to now to finally clear up and pack away all the scrap heap challenge paraphernalia and update the folder for next year.  I am now half way through my pregnancy and probably will not be back from my maternity leave for scrap heap challenge next year so I want to leave everything as clear and simple to organize as possible. Scrap heap challenge is one of my favorite events at Geevor and one that I am really proud of creating. I was really pleased this year when two more schools- Hayle and St Ives were able to join in as well.  We have had lots of ideas of how to make it even better next year and it’s frustrating to think I will miss it.