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New things for 2010…

Posted in 1 on January 7, 2010 by geevor

Well, having another snow/ice bound day! Have just finished typing up the events list for the next year and we have tonnes going on. It is definitely going to be busy and action packed. I too am looking at having a busy year though not at Geevor. I am starting a new job where I will be engaging communities with the natural environment on the Lizard Peninsular! I am very sad to leave Geevor, the people I have met since being here have been amazing and there is a real passion to preserve our local history and culture. My new job means I am am able to put my Conservation Degree to good use. The master plan is obviously to save the world and create a place where all creatures both human and animal can live in together in peace……BUT one small step at a time!!

Anyway this will be my last blog so I just wanted to say thank you everyone for my time at Geevor to all the staff here and the schools that have visited and caused a great deal of amusement! I will certainly miss the voices piping up “is that a jacuzzi?” when referring to the winder wheel and “are we underground yet?” when walking through a building with windows and daylight!

I really must remember to write some of them down!
Cheers for now, Claire.

It’s blowing a hooley!!

Posted in 1, meet the geevor staff on November 23, 2009 by geevor

Hello, Rebecca here.

Yes, it’s winter time again and the winds and gales are lashing the north coast of Cornwall, being the first to take the brunt of it! Thankfully the Headgear is still standing, but making an amazing whistling sound when you stand under it due to the wind! General visitor numbers have thinned out now, as the holiday season has ended, but it gives us valuable maintenance time, to prepare for next years season. Last week though we had several groups in, battling through the wind. Me & Claire had to utilise our ‘Hands on Hats!’ signal to quieten the students as we couldn’t shout over them and the wind – not all day anyway, we’d end up with no voice at all! Our new undercover handdrilling area works a treat though and is really sheltered – so thanks to David& Bill and Barry & Andrew for getting that ready for us 🙂

Only one school group left to do this term now, but that’s fine as we’ve got our Christmas event to prepare for, on Mon 21st Dec, and we’re having a new grotto this year. Previously Santa’s used our underground grotto, but we thought we’d be kind, as he such a busy fellow in December, and so we’re putting him in a more sheltered spot!

Last week I went through the struggle of trying to buy some carbide for our Light & Dark workshop, but it’s a hard chemical to get from a distance – something to do with the fact that it gives of a flammable gas when it’s wet! But that’s why it was used in the miners’ carbide lamps. Eventually I found a caving suppliers who’s willing to post some, though trying to find a dry storage spot in an old tin mine may be the next challenge… http://www.geevor.com/index.php?object=269

Plus Claire and I had a little visitor in the office last week – one who likes to nibble on sweets and leave deposits around the room…No, it’s not a child, but something with a tail! To be expected in this place I suppose! The things we put up with to work in such a cool place!

New e-learning website for Geevor

Posted in 1 on August 17, 2009 by geevor
Harry (aged 9) and his Mum and Dad get to grips with the new website assisted by Geevor’s Learning Team Manager Rebecca

Harry (aged 9) and his Mum and Dad get to grips with the new website assisted by Geevor’s Learning Team Manager Rebecca

Learning at Geevor has an added dimension as the mine, based in Pendeen, launch their new interactive website. The address remains www.geevor.com.

Jam packed with information, the website has been built through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between the University of Exeter and Pendeen Community Heritage. Detailing many aspects of mining, the website boasts interactive games, information sheets, images and sound bites plus a whole lot more! Interactives include Dress the Miner, Guess the Mystery Object and a Time Challenge. A page dedicated to oral history enables the user to listen to stories such as ‘Children down the Mine’. Many images and downloadable fact sheets are easily accessible and highlight many different aspects of the mine from people who worked at Geevor to the jobs they undertook.

The website has been developed over a period of two years. The KTP Associate is Claire Ross who has project managed the revamp. She said, “

Now visitors can discover Geevor in their own home! The new website is the place to discover about Geevor’s part in Cornish Mining. Whether planning a visit to the Museum, discovering more about its history, playing games, or exploring the images bank, it has never been easier to find out about Geevor. It adds an extra element to the already brilliant experience that you can have on site at Geevor. I hope you enjoy it” .

The website also features a Resource Bank that enables teachers to download information for use in the classroom. Learning Team Manager at Geevor Rebecca Gardner, said:

“Geevor’s history is now accessible to a broader audience. The layered format of the website allows accessibility to a range of learning needs, from early years to lifelong learners.”

Go and have a explore at www.geevor.com

Cape Cornwall School French Exchange art project

Posted in 1 on June 24, 2009 by geevor

We had a brilliant day today with the Cape Cornwall School French exchange group. After a tour of the site, they produced some brilliant multimedia postcards using art inspiration gathered from around the site. Have a look!

Multi media postcard

Multi media postcardCape Cornwall French exchange grouppostcard

‘It’s not about technology it’s about people’ Part deux

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

Part 2

claire rI’ve already had a mini rant about the audience and their reactions to user generated content at World Wide Wonder by the Museums Association.  This seems to be happening quite often Nina Simon has posted ‘Don’t Join the conversation if You aren’t ready to listen’ recently with her experiences of similar events. Online museum stuff should be engaging for the museums and its users, its not a pedestal to push the ‘we are the keepers of truth card and we dont want to speak to the likes of you’.  Anyway… So the content of the World Wide Wonder event was pretty full on, it was great to see different people talking about museums and the web.

There’s too much to discuss so I’m going to focus on the points that particularly interested me.

Matthew Cock’s welcome note suggested some tips for what we should be thinking about:

  1. Do one thing really really well- what do we do best?
  2. Have clearly defined audiences and clearly defined user needs
  3. Use others peoples content and tools to enhance your site and vice versa. Don’t feel you have to host the conversations about your content, just link to them. E.g flickr competitions, blog debate and discussions.  Work with flickr. Don’t just use them.
  4. You’re too close to it. in order to fully evaluate watch other people using your website. Even better, watch a disabled person using your website.
  5. Engagement with your audience is about quality.

He also asked us a question Do you have a web/digital strategy for your museum? If not why not?   That’s a good point.  When I joined Geevor, there wasn’t a web/digital strategy despite Geevor having a website (please don’t look at it- its awful- I’m currently giving it an overhaul- then it will look and feel good hopefully…).  By the time I leave (2 and a half months agh!) Geevor will have a strategy for all facets of the web that engages with/in, hopefully which will continue to grow and evolve as Geevor grows and as the web audience changes too.

Jason Ryan – Head of User Experience at ICrossing UK.  Talking about IA for the distributed online experience. I have to admit I didn’t actually know what IA was…. But now I do! Jason also asked us whether we should be considering centralised and de-centralised web strategies?

Information architecture (IA)- series of site maps and the effective organisation labelling and layout.  Ahh now it makes sense. So  IA is a way of working- a toolbox of principles, guidelines and techniques.  Many museums see their website as the sum total of their online existence.  But every organisation exists in a broader network; through networks of links and conversations.  The question is to what degree we as museums choose to be part of those extended networks- through listening and engagement?  to what extent can we  develop our IA to embrace and optimise the flow.

So basically our audiences are changing, they are no longer passive consumers.  They are active, engaged and thirsty to collaborate. We need to change to suit their needs not our own.

Jason suggested at the moment there are three types of visitor to our museum websites:

  1. I am looking for something specific
  2. I am interested in a topic or theme
  3. Inspire me

Jason also suggested three simple principles for success in broader networks

  • Listen
  • Be useful
  • Be live

Next up was Anra Kennedy from Culture 24.  This was pretty cool.  Anra was talking about meeting the needs of the youngest online audiences.

Firstly Caboodle is now live! Why didn’t anybody tell me, and why wasn’t it tweeted to oblivion??

So museums face stiff competition when it comes to children’s time and attention. And what are they doing with their screen (not necessarily online) time?? Playing, communicating, creating and finding out.

The best place for museums to position themselves is in the finding out section of children’s time. So what do children find out and when?

  • At home- unguided, informal, craze led, and interest led
  • School- guided, time limited, formal, info led
  • Homework- a combination of the two.

Children have a wide option of experiences open to them and they love sharing interesting content.  Anra posed the question why isn’t it happening with out content??

She provided a brilliant example of her daughter who was doing a piece of homework on Boudicca. By using google images her daughter chose an image that she felt best represented Boudicca, and what was it? this!

why wasn’t museum content chosen? Because its not visible enough!  Homework should be the quick win for the museum.  We definitely need to work on this!

Anra also discussed crazes that children are in too and these crazes are in a format that museum could try and adopt.

www.neopets.com ( I have to admit I used to have a neopet, I was an only child and my hamster had just died- I needed something- don’t judge me)  it’s a virtual pet community. All I can really remember is playing solitare with this blue dinosaur looking thing, giving me points to feed it, it was addictive for a while. I soon got bored and went to play outside in the mud (archaeologist through and through), but the point is the majority of people didn’t get bored and played for hours on end! Why cant children or in fact everyone be playing with museum content, museum games?

www.clubpenguin.com (its tag line is ‘waddle around and meet new friends’ fab) – club penguin is a safe and moderated virtual world where you are a penguin avatar in a continually evolving community.  What’s interesting about club penguin is that it has been far reaching.  Its everywhere! You tube, twitter, you name its there’s a club penguin waddling about.

www.moshimonsters.com – Moshi Monsters is a free online game for kids, in which they adopt a monster and look after it.  whats great about moshi monsters is that learning is at the heart the experience.  The child’s monster will create a series of puzzles that test everything from vocabulary and arithmetic to logic and spatial skills. It might actually be good for me to do, test the brain a little. My logic and arithmetic and my vocab for that matter and not up to scratch.

It wasn’t in my remit to work on games for Geevor.  But I think tapping into the crazes that children are in to, is something really worth looking into for museums as a whole.  Plus it would be fun to research- Anra suggests that if museums are going to tap into childrens games, the first thing you need to do totally immerse yourself! Cool. I would like that job.

A few good museum websites/games aimed at children are:

www.foodgloriousfood.org.uk/my-patch

www.chanel4.com/history

www.parliament.uk/bigben

Finally, the final talk of the day was by Carolyn Royston, Carolyn focused on working in partnership and the benefits and challenges she faced as the project manager of National Musuems Online Learning Project.  The title of the post ‘It’s not about technology, its about people’ is from Carolyn’s talk.  It was one of the most important lessons Carolyn learnt from the project. And from my experience I would have to agree. My job is to lead a collaborative project between Geevor and the University of Exeter. I have had to develop strong partnerships with internal and external stakeholders and work collaboratively within Geevor, with the local community and with several departments in the University of Exeter.  And what it comes down to is the people involved.  You need to effectively communicate with everyone all the time. This on occasions is exceptionally difficult.  Carolyn was faced with ‘so what’s this project actually about?’ by a partner involved a few months before the end of the project!  People and communicating with them are the key factor in the successful management of any project .

Some key points that Carolyn discussed:

  • Project needs clear benefits and value for all involved.
  • Clarity about what the project will deliver (and what it won’t)
  • Capability and capacity clearly defined.
  • Agreement on how you will work together
  • Spending time on the partnership early on will benefit you throughout the project
  • Legacy strategy and sustainability issues must be discussed
  • Setting up clear lines of communication
  • Understanding that milestones and deadlines have to be met otherwise they impact on everyone
  • Gaining advocacy- being a project champion
  • Gaining commitment- building commitment
  • Partnerships require work- all the time.

(on a another note. The webquests are pretty good!)

A point that was left ringing in my ears is – a good project manager will lead your project but implementation and delivery is a collective responsibility.

There was also great talks by Areti Galani- Participatory media: one size does not fit all. Areti looked at the ladder of participation and asked key questions about who participates, what does it look like and what is its purpose.  Martin Bazley- understanding online audiences: how to evaluate your website(s) and why .  Martin discussed why we need to research are online audiences – basically because otherwise users don’t get what we are offering.  and Phil Poole- Enhancing websites on a shoestring budget (which I mentioned in Part 1).

Rebecca’s hectic month

Posted in 1 on June 2, 2009 by geevor

rebecca

Had a quick break this month – went back to uni to see my old geology friends for a reunion which highlighted that, as I work in a tin mine, I am actually one of those who continued in Geology after our degree… but don’t suppose that I’m meant to know something about rocks though! (I studied fossils – not much use here in Cornwall which has very few!)

The climax of the month at Geevor for the Learning Team though was the May half term when we cast ingots! Well… plaster of paris ingots, in our children’s workshop where we had several girls attend who were very keen. Me and Claire S, got a little too keen as well and ended up being a bit on the messy side – a mixture of plaster and silver spray paint! Hopefully there’ll be some real smelting demos during the summer which we’re also trying to organise. Plus I’ve now been trained to do the shaking table demonstrations to help out the guides when busy, so I was called to do that a couple of times as practice for the hectic summer ahead. Also, our new trail around the site seemed to be a hit, so we’ve decided to keep that going from now on and over the summer period – hopefully the secret answer won’t be spread too quickly amongst visitors! Onto June though and ‘The Giant Sleepover’ to be organised… Watch this space!

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.