So – let’s take a look at some scenarios that might play out in your parks or facilities.
Scenario: You have frequent special events for children and like to take them on discovery hikes. In the past you have printed out a scavenger hunt for each child, but you’re trying to save trees and go paperless. And you want to be able to change your scavenger hunt easily and quickly so that you can respond to the needs of your varied audiences.This time, you’ve decided to create a QR code trail. You quickly create a small website for each stop along the trail and encode the web address for each into a QR code. You print out each of the QR codes on card stock, along with a question, and post them at features along the trail. When the children find the sign, they can use smart phones to unlock the answer to the question. For your next event, you can easily update the websites you already created and print out new cards.
So – what is a QR code, or a DigiTrail?Basically, it’s a message coded in a bar code. In this case, scanning the code send you to a webpage with more information about a tanager.Let’s give it a try. How many of you have Smart Phones. We have two up hear.If you have a smart phone, go to your App Store and search for QR code reader, or bar code reader and download a free one. (I have RedLaser on my phone)Stand up if you have a phone. Can we form small groups around these people and take the “tour” that is posted around the room? Let’s take 10 minutes.
So—how hard is it to set this up?Not hard at all – in fact, it can be done it just a very few minutes. First, you’ll need a website – in the case of our Scavenger Hunt, I’ll need a separate web page for each Stop.I created mine on my own website, but if you are new to this, I’d suggest using a free website builder called Weebly. You can create an account in seconds and be ready to go. This is an extremely simple website builder
Simply drag and icon down from the toolbar at the top of the page and drop it on the web page. In this case, I pulled down the Title Text block. Once I drop it, it expands and all I have to do is click to start typing.No technical know-how needed. No web host. When you publish your site, it is hosted right on Weebly’s server and your website is ready to go.Once you’ve created your site, you’ll need to create a QR code. Again—simple.
A quick Google search will bring back dozens of free QR code generators. They are all similar and all easy to use.This one is Mobile Barcodes. Notice – all I had to do was paste the website address in the URL box and then click the submit button. This QR code was returned to me and I can simply copy and paste it onto my Scavenger Hunt sign.
You can code more than websites. You can link directly to a phone number. Someone – try clicking on this code.
Or try clicking this one.
And you don’t have to print them out on paper. You can also make permanent signs like these. Remember – since the interpretive information is stored on a website, you can update your stories without reprinting your signs.So – let’s brainstorm. What are some other ways you can use QR codes?: Print them on interpretive signs or post them permanently on posts to direct visitors to interpretive websites. Print them on your brochures. Post them on your door when you are closed. Any time you want to send people to a website for additional information, a QR code is a simple, one-click solution.
Scenario: In your archives, you have boxes of old photographs from your site. You’d like to share them with visitors but don’t have the space for exhibits. You decide to display them electronically.
Now, in the past, that might mean a slide show. This is the first on we did--for the Oregon Coast Trail.We had a carousel of slides, a separate cassette tape, and a written script to help time the switching of the slides. To make the title interesting, we laid outplastic letters on the beach.Of course, this setup required a person to operate it, and it required a full audience to justify presenting it. It needed a facility and equipment to display it.We used slides in our workshops for years.
And when we wanted to use words, we had an overhead projector and boxes full of overheads that we carried around with us. (of course—that was back in the day when we could bring along all sorts of boxes without paying an arm and a leg for extra luggage)But then – we had PowerPoint. This made it easy to put together slideshows and it is still used heavily today.But what happens when you want to share your PowerPoint presentation with people who aren’t right there in the room with you?What if you don’t want to be limited to the few times you have people gathered altogether in one place?
Here’s one option -- an online tool called Slideshare.Many of you have already used this, I’m sure. But it’s a really quick and easy way to put a Powerpoint presentation online.Here’s and example: http://www.slideshare.net/natsatlarge/sequoia-kings3
Instead, you decide to use one of the many free multimedia tools online to create a digital presentation. Multimedia tools allow you to combine pictures, moving images, sound, and/or animation into a digital presentation. Some provide a great deal of design control, while some will quickly generate a presentation for you.You select your photos and then scour the Creative Commons audio file sites for music from the time period. You still have some old-timers living nearby so you bring them in to add their oral histories to the presentation. The tool you have selected allows you to combine all of these pieces into a professional digital video. The finished presentation can be posted on your website, played in your auditorium, downloaded onto visitors’ mobile devices, or posted on computers in your visitor center. So, let’s look at some programs for creating various types of multimedia presentations. These are tools that allow you to combine words, and images, and video, and audio files, and interactive components.Slideroll is one example: create a photo slideshow in a timeline view. Add music: use theirs or upload your own. Zoom and pan images, adjust transitions. Publish to their website, or take the embed code to put in on your own website or blog.Now, of course – you have all of your historic photographs that you can use. Or maybe some film or video footage.But there is lots of other media available to you. I mentioned the Creative Commons movement earlier.
So – where do you find this Creative Commons media?I’ve created a website for you where I’ve provided instructions for finding Creative Commons images by changing the settings in your Google Searches and by using Flickr. And I’ve provided links to some of my favorite databases of music and film.
One thing that’s happening is that musicians are putting their music online and sharing. Jamendo is one site where you can listen to, and download, albums and songs in a variety of genres – no charge.
Or you might want to go to the Library of Congress American Memory collections and select music from the time period that matches you pictures.
And there are plenty of other tools for putting together multimedia presentations.IfSlideroll won’t do exactly what you need, try OneTrueMedia, or maybe VuVoxWe can create photo slideshows in a rolling timeline, adding music using clips provided within the tool or uploading our own. We can zoom into images, or pan across them. And we can give control to our visitors to move through our slideshows at their own pace.We have tools that allow us to create collages, layer pictures on pictures, or put images within cutout frames.Our finished products can be downloaded to our own computers or they can be saved on the website where we created them and shared via a link. Usually, we are given embed code that can be used to embed the final slideshow onto our own website or blog so that all the visitor sees is the final presentation.These tools allow us to reach our audience on a one-to-one basis. There is no need for a large audience gathered in one place, and there is no need for a facility or a personal presenter. The program can be played on a website, in a visitor center, on a big screen in an auditorium, or downloaded onto a mobile device.
Or for a really simple tool, try Animoto. AnimotoCombine pictures with musicMusic – preloaded with 1000 tunesOr you can upload your own mp3 fileThe program compiles your pictures into a videoVideos are unbranded – you just get the final video, cleanFinal product is very professional looking – but you don’t have much control over your own designMusic – preloaded with 1000 tunes
We want to increase visitation: What better way than to send your message out to the millions of people who are already networked online? Word of mouth—social selling--has always been our best marketing tool.
Let’s take a look at how this can work.Here’s a recent example. I was scanning through my Facebook page and this post caught my eye.I don’t know John YeeAnd I don’t really know AnnBut she’s friends with a friend and for some reason friended me on Facebook. It’s been a good friendship: she posts all sorts of interesting thingsSo I clicked on the link
And read a fun story about a Macaque monkey who stole a professional photographer’s camera and took her own self-portraits.Now, I don’t normally read the Daily Mail online, so I wouldn’t have seen this. But someone I don’t know told someone else I don’t know well, and she told me.
And so I reposted it on my Facebook page and within 30 minutes my sister had commented on it – and now all of her friends will see this post.The point is, this is happening all over. Whenever a story catches someone’s interest, it gets spread around the web – and not just through Facebook, but through blogs, and Twitter, and YouTube, and more.If you can make your stories interesting, they will go viral.
We want our visitors to tell their friends about us. So make it easy for them. Create a blog that potential visitors can subscribe to and share with their friends. Maintain a Facebook page that people can “like.” Post videos on YouTube—if they are good, people will comment and post links in their social networks. We need to build our volunteer base—our volunteers are getting old. Perhaps old ways of telling our stories are reaching older audiences. If we want to attract a younger volunteer base, we need to reach out to young people where they are, which is often online. If we keep our media delivery strategies up to date and cutting edge, we’ll be telling our stories in a world populated by a younger generation. If we want them to volunteer, they need to be included in our audience.WHERE PEOPLE ARE NOW
Scenario: You hold day camps for children at your visitor center and are looking for ways to encourage them to look more closely at the environment. You have some digital cameras and decide to take the children out to capture pictures that show different kinds of plants. When they return with their photos, you will help them use a publishing tool to write a digital picture book.Publishing tools allow you to create eBooks, either by uploading documents you have written and formatted on your computer, or by creating them online. Completed books are published online, with pages that flip just as in a book. They can be downloaded to eBook readers, or can be ordered as print-on-demand paperbacks or hard-copy books. These services range from professional level publishing services to small tools that allow children to create picture books. Costs for purchasing individual hard copy books are competitive, helping you avoid the cost of a large run.Back in your visitor center, the children upload their photos to the website, Tikatok, and begin adding text to narrate their story. When they are done, they share their online books with one another and with their parents. The children are proud and some parents decide to order a paperback hard copy that will be delivered to their home. Other ways you can use online publishing services: Publish specialty books online and order just a few copies for your bookstore, replenishing only if needed. Post links to your books on your website and let interested visitors order them directly. Publish trail and site booklets in small numbers so that you can quickly and easily update them if conditions change.
In the past publishing was a major process – and expensive. We had to guess how many copies we would needTikatok allows you to create books. It was designed for young children but can be used by anyone and is very simple to use. Simply add pictures and text—and then publish it. The site gives embed code so you can add it to a website or blog. Or imagine using this tool for a children’s program where you can allow children to take pictures at your site and bring them back to create their own eBooks. Or you could set it up as a parent/child activity and let them use their cell phones to take pictures together and create a book. Or you could upload images yourself and let children create a story using the pictures you’ve provided.You can also order copies of the book, so visitors can order an actual bound copy before, during, or after their visit.
While we’re talking about publishing, there are services online for self-publishing. One of those is Lulu. I worked with my mother to publish this book of Haiku last year. She ordered copies that were very professional and have been sold in bookstores.Simply create the book in Word or a page design program and upload the book to the website to be published as an eBook or a bound paperback or hard-cover book. There is a great deal of technical support available on the site.Publishing things such as guidebooks has been an issue in the past. When budgets are down, guidebooks are often eliminated.There are big advantages to this online process. You no longer have to order bulk copies – you can order one book or 5,000. Order just what you need for your gift shop – or let visitors order their own copies. Update easily as things change.
Scenario: You’d love to get your local residents on site more often, but it’s expensive to change exhibits or stage events to encourage them to return. You decide to try a podcast series that highlights seasonal changes in your environment.A podcast is a digital audio (or video) series consisting of multiple episodes. The episodes are hosted on a site where listeners can subscribe to receive automatic updates, making it a bit like on-demand radio. Podcasts can be downloaded to mobile devices for listening on the go.You use one of the many free tools available to begin a series and add updates each time changes occur that might be of interest to visitors:when the fall colors are spectacular.When the seasons changewhen a certain plant is in bloomwhen an unusual bird has been spottedYou post a link to your podcast series on your website and on your Facebook page encouraging people to subscribe. When they do, they receive updates each time you post a new episode, reminding them that your site is in constant change and ready to offer a new experience.
Okay – let’s talk about podcasting for a few minutes. There are a variety of simple ways to make podcasts. Several sites allow you to simply call in from your phone to record directly online. It’s an easy way to make a quick podcast on the fly. You can call in from out on your site as a reporter on the spot.These sites don’t allow editing afterward, but you can always rerecord if you are unhappy with the product.Audioboo is one simple site that lets you record on the fly.
Okay – Show video
This site – Talkshoe – let’s you invite others to join your phone call and it records the call as a podcast episode. You could do an interpretive talk with a question and answer period afterward. Or give a panel discussion with several specialists providing multiple perspectives on a topic.Most of these sites will let you record from an iPhone or a Droid, a regular phone, or or from a browser. Publish to the site, which acts as a host for your podcasts, or embed on your website, or feed your podcast to iTunes or another host.
If you are wanting more control over your podcasts, with the ability to add music, create multiple tracks, and edit, you can download a little free program called Audacity that’s a darned powerful tool.It allows you to record multiple tracks or to upload audio files and layer them – maybe voice, and sound effects, and background music.When your file is done you can export it as a wav file or as an mp3 file.
Audacity is a really simple program to learn and it’s very powerfulIt allows us to upload audio files and layer them –I can export a variety of formatsIt automatically adds new tracks – this file was stereo so it came in on two tracks. If I want to bring in additional files it will put them on their own tracks below this and I can drag them right or left to start when I want them to start.If I want to add an audio track, I can record directly into Audacity.And what makes it really powerful is that there are tools for correcting the audio. One of my favorites is the noise removal option. In fact, I often bring files out of GarageBand and open them in this free tool to clean up the sound.I’ve provided links to a number of tutorials on the website.
But we can also do this online without downloading an application like Audacity.Aviary is a nice suite of powerful programs, from image editing to podcastingThe audio tools are very powerful – multiple tracks, fully onlineAnd you can save in multiple ways – download as an mp3 or a wav file, embed In a website, link to the file in Aviary, or publish it to the Aviary site where others can find it.Both Audacity and Aviary can be used for a variety of functions:You can create podcastsYou can create original soundtracks for your videosYou can recreate historical sounds representative of your siteYou can compile bird songs or wildlife sounds from your siteThese tools can allow you to bring in sound and music to enhance your interpretive stories.
There are also tools that allow you to create vodcasts – add video or images to your podcasts and create episode.Yodio is one. Call 1-877-MY-YODIO (699-6346) andthenfollowthedirectionstomakeyour vodcast.You can create audio-video tours of your site using your photos. Embed them on your website, or let visitors subscribe and receive them on their own computers or smart phones.
Scenario: You have a large site with a variety of different features you would like to encourage visitors to experience. Your visitors tend to go to a few major spots, leaving the rest under-used. You decide to create a map tour that helps people see the different features in relation to one another. Mapping tools such as GoogleEarth and GoogleMaps allow you to create your own map tours. Just tag the locations you want to share with people, add interpretive information and an image and/or audio file for each stop, and share the tour online. You’ll end up with a virtual interpretive tour, complete with online interpretive signs. It’s simple to do, and I have posted tutorials and examples on the website listed at the end of this article. You add pictures and text to each of the features you have tagged on GoogleEarth and zoom in so that people can see the features on the satellite map. The finished fly-through tour takes visitors virtually through all of the features they can visit. Some of your visitors choose to take the map tour with them on their cell phones so they can access the interpretive information while they are looking at the actual feature.SLOW
Mapping tools such as GoogleEarth and GoogleMaps allow you to create your own map tours. Just tag the locations you want to share with people, add interpretive information and an image and/or audio file for each stop, and share the tour online. You’ll end up with a virtual interpretive tour, complete with online interpretive signs. It’s simple to do, and I have posted tutorials and examples on the website listed at the end of this article. You add pictures and text to each of the features you have tagged on GoogleEarth and zoom in so that people can see the features on the satellite map. The finished fly-through tour takes visitors virtually through all of the features they can visit. Some of your visitors choose to take the map tour with them on their cell phones so they can access the interpretive information while they are looking at the actual feature.
Similar to GoogleEarth, is Google MyMaps, but this one is completely online – there’s no need to download the GoogleEarth application.You can add placemarks and “interpretive signs” that visitors click on to reveal. You can’t do a flying tour, as in GoogleEarth, but it is easy and effective.Provide a link on your website, or let visitors can play your tour on their mobile devises and open the interpretive windows when they arrive at the appropriate location on your site.
Here’s one new technology that I’ve been monitoringIt’s out in Beta right now, and it looks promising for storytellingThis is a site for collecting oral histories – you can attach your story to a specific site
Examples: Denali National Park; Warren Ames Memorial BridgeIt’s set up now so that it’s easy for anyone to attach their story to any location by calling in with their cell phone.But you could also set it up for your own site, with your own interpreters adding stories to your different features.It has a very personal, friendly feel.Broadcastr has iPhone and Droid apps that allow visitors to use it on their mobile devices and listen to the stories while standing at the appropriate site.It’s a bit like a GPS tour.
Scenario: You have a special event happening at your site that would interest far more people than can actually attend. You’d like to use the event to raise awareness of your facility, so you decide to broadcast it live over the Internet.
Free online broadcasting sites allow you to, essentially, create your own television program. It is as simple as connecting a video camera to your laptop and hitting Record. These free tools are so powerful that many television stations use them rather than taking film crews and broadcast equipment on-site. You set up your laptop and a small video camera and record the event as it takes place. While it is broadcasting, participants from around the country watch and post questions and comments on the site. You answer as many as you can and promise to find the answers you don't have at hand. The event is so successful that you post a recording of it on your website so that people can continue to enjoy it after the date has passed.
And they are easy to use. Just hook up a camcorder to your computer and start broadcasting.
Things are changing so quickly that there are new tools appearing every daySome of these tools will disappear, some will go from free to charging a fee, and others will appear to replace the ones that are gone
So . . . I’m not trying to teach you about specific toolsI’m trying to point out that whatever it is you are trying to accomplish, there is probably a tool available to do itIf you focus on the tools, you’ll be limited by what they allow you to do.If you focus on the tasks, you can find a tool to help youSo – with so many tools available and new ones every day, how will you find the one you are needing?
I’ve created a website with links to all of the tools we looked at today, and many others . . . Tools that work well to get our interpretive messages out.
There’s a short description of each tool and often there are links to examples and tutorials. All are simple to use, and free.
The bookmark I passed out at the beginning of the workshop has the link. I hope you’ll all start experimenting to see what is possible.Questions? Thank you.
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"Docent led birding hike”by Erica Szlosek, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servicehttp://www.public-domain-image.com/people-public-domain-images-pictures/docent-led-birding-hike.jpg.html