Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Museum Mobile Tours and Cell Phones

Visiting local museums has traditionally been a part of K-12 education. Museums have started to take advantage of the growing number of people with cell phones, by providing self-paced tours on cell phones. Museum patrons can dial a number and instantly get an audio tour (some even have image and video options for cell phones that can handle those types of media). A few resources online that provide this service (for a fee) include Museum411, Guide by Cell, and Spatial Adventures (free 30 day trial). Additionally, schools can access information or tours from a specific museum by going to MuseumPods to download free podcasts for cell phones and iPhones.

I have written in the past about MyArtSpace, where schools can post mobile images from their art museum field trips and develop lessons around their postings. As I was listening to some of these cell phone tours, I realized that creating a museum mobile tour would be another great museum project for students. Teachers could contact a local museum and ask if their students could research and then develop various cell phone audio tours. Or, teachers could have their students develop mobile walking tours of the city (historical, geographical, scientific tours). Student's in a foreign language class could offer to turn the audio English tours into bilingual tours. Instead of using one of the pay services mentioned above, students could use
YouMail or Podlinez to create the dial-in tour.

These tours could be enhanced by developing a tour that includes images and/or large text on the mobile phone. This could be done with PowerPoint on a MAC. I wrote a tutorial on how to develop enhanced PowerPoint podcasts for cell phones and how to upload them a while back. These are just a few suggestions on how students cell phones can become museum enhancing tools.


Wesley Fryer said...

These are GREAT ideas, Liz. Our Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum just received a grant to create a cell phone walking tour, and I am 100% with you that we should find ways to empower students to create local field trips with their teachers, for their communities. With our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices Project we are brainstorming ways we can involve students in creating virtual field trips, like students in Howe did this past year when they were nationally recognized in a contest sponsored by the CILC and Tandberg. The cell phone connection is a great one.

The folks who offer this now just do so as a hosted service you have to pay for by the phone call. I'm wondering how a group or organization could purchase its own solution to provide this functionality, or if this has to be done as a hosted service with one of these companies? I hope we can get some field trips like this created next year in Oklahoma, BY students.

Liz Kolb, Ph.D. said...

Hi Wes
Thanks for the comment.

Wow! What a fantastic project by the Howe students. Thanks for sharing, and please let me know when you get the cell phone tours up and running!

I also agree with you about the services. I wish I could find one that is really for educators and education (AKA free and protected)...maybe some techie out in cyberspace would be willing to put something together???

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see this idea spreading. During a field trip to the Sacramento Zoo with my son's 2nd grade class, I noticed that they too offered a "Cell Phone Safari" (sponsored by IKEA) to learn more about the animals.

Liz Kolb, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for sharing the link!

I wonder how many other zoos, museums, historical or scientific sites are including cell phones as part of their student tours? If anyone else knows of some, please share.


Anonymous said...


I like the idea of combining a technology they all use with the classroom. I know I groan when I hear of students having cell phones, but with this lesson you can help your students make a connection with cell phones and school I can see students enjoying coming up with their own mobile tours. It would be really great to go to a museum, have student take a tour and then when they get back to the classroom come up with their mobile tour based upon their experience. A mobile tour could also be a great culminating activity for a unit where students have to research a museum and make a mobile tour for that museum. I am excited to use this lesson in the classroom.

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