MW2011: L. Tallon + I. Froes, Going Mobile? Insights into the museum community’s perspectives on mobile interpretation

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If the future is mobile, how is the museum community experiencing that future, what are their ambitions within it, and in which areas is further knowledge share required? It was specifically to gain an insight into questions such as these that the 2010 International Museums and Mobile survey was developed. This paper will present and analyse the responses of the 600+ museum professionals that participated in this research.

The 2010 International Museums and Mobile Survey reached out to museum professionals internationally to share their perspectives and understanding of mobile interpretation at their institutions. Dividing respondents into four categories – those from institutions that already used mobile interpretation, those from institutions that were planning to use mobile interpretation tools, those from institutions that had no plans to use mobile interpretation tools, and those from vendors working in this field – the survey sought to gain an insight into the everyday realities of developing, delivering and sustaining mobile interpretation provisions in an institution. The survey questions related to the objectives of, and target audience for, an institution’s mobile interpretation experience; the challenges faced by institutions in planning and operating a mobile interpretation experience; and what strategies were used to measure the success of these experiences. Other questions probed the aspects of mobile interpretation in which individuals felt there were insufficient knowledge share, and also about what excited them most in this field.

Over 600 museum professionals responded to the survey, sharing their views on the above questions. Responses were received from individuals working in institutions with a wide variety of backgrounds and profiles: institutions in over twenty countries are represented in the results; two thirds of all responses were from institutions that did not use mobile interpretation tools, and of which half were planning to in the twelve months, and half had no such plans. Whilst a quarter of responses came from within institutions that boast an annual attendance upwards of 250,000 visitors, more than half had annual attendance of under 50,000 visitors (and less than 1 staff member working in digital media).

Drawing on this data source, this Paper will draw out the key trends that arise, and forward analysis on their context and implications for the community. It will explore opinions on issues ranging from whether mobile interpretation should be available at an additional cost to visitors, to how to define the target audience for a mobile interpretation tool (i.e. is it just “those that like audio guides”?). And from whether in five years time museums will still be required to provide a hardware platform to visitors for the mobile experience, to the obstacles those entering the field are facing today. Through this analysis, this paper aims to provide guidance to those museums entering this field for the first time, create awareness of those areas where further knowledge share is required (and hopefully identify those institutions best placed to provide such knowledge), and ultimately provide a valuable tool on which to further inform debates in this field.

A presentation from Museums and the Web 2011 (MW2011).

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  • ON Thursday in the Plenary my heart sank: I felt I’d now been teed up to do a weak version of the Pew Internet presentation. ..\n
  • Started in 2010 so now in second year.\n
  • Focused on that. What the devil to do…\n
  • The Museums & Mobile survey is a collaborative annual research initiative run by Pocket-Proof and Learning Times that seeks to track the evolution of this collective knowledge and experience. Now in its second year, the survey asks members of the international museum community to share their experiences of the everyday realities of developing, delivering and sustaining mobile interpretation experiences at a cultural institution. \n
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  • Within this context of growing engagement, an institution’s vision of the features and functionalities of an effective mobile interpretation experience for their institution have evolved.\n
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  • MW2011: L. Tallon + I. Froes, Going Mobile? Insights into the museum community’s perspectives on mobile interpretation

    1. 1. > MW2011 > Going Mobile?: insights into the museum community’s perspectives on mobile interpretation.> Loïc Tallon. (Pocket-Proof, UK).> Isabel Froes. (IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark).> In less than 480 seconds
    2. 2. www.museums-mobile.net/survey
    3. 3. If the future is mobile, how is the museum communitydeveloping within that future, what are thechallenges they face within it, and in which directionsshould we be seeking to evolve our collectiveknowledge share?
    4. 4. > Objectives> Challenges> Future> Research Needs
    5. 5. About the 2011 survey & respondents…
    6. 6. 738 museum professionalsparticipated. 2010: 230ish responses
    7. 7. Predominantly from institutions based inthe USA (80%)27 countries in total, inc. Canada, UK,Australia, France, Denmark, Japan, andPeru. 
    8. 8. not a random sampleit’s a comparative sample
    9. 9. Figure 03: Current use of, or existence of plans to use, mobileinterpretation tools at respondent’s Institution.
    10. 10. 35% were from History Museums.23% working in Art Galleries.49% worked in Institutions with an annual attendance of <50,000 visitors.10% came from Institutions with more than one million.45% work in an Institution with less than one fulltime staff working in digital programmes.45% reported a staff of between one and five members.10% had more than five members of staff dedicated todigital.
    11. 11. When we publish the results, objective is toreport results w/o any analysis.Leave a gap in which anyone can drawtheir own conclusions / observations.www.museums-mobile.net/survey
    12. 12. Nine observations…1. Institutions are increasingly ambitious with mobile interpretation.2. Mobile interpretation is increasingly seen as a means of attracting new visitors / visitor groups.3. Institutions are unspecific on the target audience is for their mobile interpretation tools4. Visitor take-up of the mobile interpretation tool is (still) the elephant in the room.5. Experimentation is a primary objective for institutions use of mobile interpretation.6. How to measure the success of a mobile interpretation tool remains uncertain.7. Experience changes everything.8. Institutions with first hand experience are in the best position to fulfill the community’s knowledge share needs.9. It’s about the content, not the technology.
    13. 13. 2. Mobile is increasingly seen as a means of attracting new visitors / visitor groups.
    14. 14. Figure 9: Which or the following are ‘Very Important’ objectives of your /a Institution’s mobile interpretation tool? (Chart shows only top six mostpopular responses of the thirteen available in the survey).
    15. 15. Figure 5: Proportion of respondents who selected to “attract newvisitors / new types of visitors” as an objective of their / anInstitution’s mobile interpretation tool.
    16. 16. Who are these new ‘visitors’? On/off-site visitors/users.
    17. 17. 3. Institution’s are unspecific on the target audience is for their mobile interpretation tool.
    18. 18. Figure 6: Responses to which of the following best describesthe target audience(s) for their institutions mobile interpretationtool?
    19. 19. Are these really a target audience? • All visitors. (63%) • Visitors who want an in-depth experience. (42%) • Visitors that like audio guides. (39%) • Adult visitors. (38%) A general audience for mobile?
    20. 20. 4. Visitor take-up of the mobile interpretation tool is (still?) the elephant in the room.
    21. 21. Figure 11: Ranking out of nine for the challenges of developingand operating a mobile interpretation tool at an institution. (9 =highest ranking)
    22. 22. Figure 7: Ranking out of nine for the challenge ofEncouraging take-up of the Mobile by Visitors. (9 =highest ranking).
    23. 23. Visitors are not yet fighting in lineto take our mobile experiences… Walkman link.
    24. 24. THANK YOU! www.museums-mobile.net/surveyAnd please participate in the 2012 survey! Artwork by Leo Caillard, Art Game. 2011. http://www.leocaillard.com/

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