Museum at your fingertips: telepresence tours for schools

Julia Falkowski, Balboa Park Online Collaborative, USA

Abstract

How can museums use technology to create uniquely human experiences? This paper looks at the value of telepresence robots (remote-controlled devices equipped with cameras, microphones, loudspeakers, and screens displaying live video of its pilot’s face) to increase access to museum spaces. We focus on the IMLS Sparks grant-funded project "Museum at Your Fingertips," a partnership between Balboa Park Online Collaborative and San Diego Air and Space Museum testing the ability of a telepresence robot, the BeamPro by Suitable Technologies, to provide meaningful and engaging remote tours to classrooms that lack resources to visit museums in person. The successes and challenges provide lessons about using this technology in the future.

Keywords: Telepresence, Tours, Robotics, Education, Interpretation, Access

Introduction

Museums have a responsibility to make sure their spaces, programs, and materials are accessible to all. Of course, they must follow the standards required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, but their status as non-profits in the public trust means museums must hold themselves to higher standards. The American Alliance of Museums’ “National Standards and Best Practices” states that a museum should show “a commitment to providing the public with physical and intellectual access to the museum and its resources” (American Alliance of Museums, n.d.). Tangible efforts have been made at expanding accessibility, including ramps and elevators in buildings, closed captioning on videos, and websites that generously share information. Museums’ unique positions requires them to go beyond this and consider factors such as distance and socio-economic status. Museums are responsible for reaching out, to expose their educational resources to, and create meaningful and engaging experiences for, as many people as possible.

Field trips are an important way for museums to extend access, allowing museums to welcome students whose families or schools could not otherwise visit, and enhancing their classroom learning experiences. The intellectual, social, and emotional benefits of museum learning are well documented: numerous studies have concluded museum experiences have the ability to motivate and excite learners of all ages while providing them with new insights and experiences (Wishart & Triggs, 2010). Fluctuating fuel prices and an increased focus on testing in recent years has contributed to the reduction of student field trips across the country. A University of Arkansas study found that more than half of American schools cut a planned field trip during the 2010-2011 year (Greene, Kishida, & Bowen, 2014). Increasingly, only privileged students have access to museum spaces; this is especially true for underfunded rural school districts, far away from world-class museums. This socioeconomic impact has raised a question: how can museums capture young audiences, ensuring museum experiences remain accessible to all young learners?

Interested in answers to this question, Balboa Park Online Collaborative, Inc. (BPOC), and San Diego Air and Space Museum (SDASM) partnered on an IMLS Sparks grant-funded project, Museum at Your Fingertips. BPOC was founded to serve Balboa Park’s twenty-seven museums and cultural institutions, with the mission to connect audiences to art, culture, and science through technology. SDASM celebrates aviation and spaceflight history and aims to inspire excellence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The Museum at Your Fingertips project tested the ability of a telepresence robot, the BeamPro by Suitable Technologies, to provide meaningful and engaging remote tours to classrooms that lack the resources to visit museums in person. The two organizations worked together to design a tour program that took full advantage of the BeamPro’s capabilities to provide unique opportunities to students to access museum spaces and experiences.

With Museum at Your Fingertips, BPOC and SDASM worked to answer three key questions: (1) what are the technological capabilities and limitations of telepresence robots in museum spaces? (2) how useful are telepresence devices as learning tools in the classroom? and(3) is this project worth replicating in other museums? Throughout the project, BPOC tested the technological capabilities of telepresence robots and developed supplemental technology, while SDASM developed an educational tour, generated curriculum-related content, and scheduled formal tests in ten local classrooms. To create an engaging experience, BPOC designed a companion website that would show classrooms where the BeamPro was located in the museum and provide students with additional museum content. Through a series of real-world classroom tests, the Museum at Your Fingertips project proved that, when technical issues are properly addressed, telepresence robot tours are a viable option to expand access to students who are unable to make it to museums for field trips.

About telepresence robot technology

To begin the process of testing telepresence robot tours, the project team researched the history and current use of telepresence robots. What is a telepresence robot? The Economist titled an article on the technology, “Your Alter Ego on Wheels,” and explained that these devices allow “people to move virtually through a distant building by remotely controlling a wheeled robot equipped with a camera, microphone, loudspeaker and screen displaying live video of its pilot’s face” (Economist, 2013). The BeamPro is a fully interactive tool that moves, sees, and speaks on command through the use of wide-angle cameras with tilt and zoom capabilities, a microphone that cancels echo and reduces background noise, and a powerful built-in speaker (Suitable Technologies, n.d.). Telepresence robots enable remote users to log in and move around a space, steering the device with their keyboard. These robots are roughly five feet tall, giving the pilot a true “presence” in far-off spaces.

Many telepresence robots, including the Suitable Technologies brand employed in this project, were originally developed and marketed for telework and the corporate world (Suitable Technologuie, n.d.). Their appeal was in their ability to give people agency and a physical manifestation during business meetings, things that were lacking in traditional video chat scenarios. Other types of organizations, including disability advocates, hospitals, and schools quickly saw the potential of this new tool to increase accessibility. The Beam Telepresence YouTube channel includes a series called Beam Stories. One Beam Story tells about how a set of medical clinics in a rural area are able to serve patients more efficiently by facilitating doctor visits through telepresence. Another Beam Story focuses on Henry Evans, an accessibility advocate with locked-in syndrome. In the video, Evans drives a BeamPro to visit new places and interact with the world. Evans explains, “Its the closest thing I have come to walking in the eleven years since my stroke.” (Beam Telepresence, n.d.). Clearly there is great potential in the creative ways telepresence robots can be employed to make improvements in the lives of a wide variety of people.

Museums have also been experimenting with expanding access through telepresence robots. In 2014, the Center for the Future of Museums welcomed Henry Evans, the same accessibility advocate featured in the Beam Story, to write a post on telepresence for accessibility. Evans wrote, “If you are able bodied, don’t forget that while you may be inclined to compare the experience to physically walking around a museum, to a primarily bedridden person it represents freedom.” (Evans, 2014). Most able-bodied people take museum experiences for granted; you can wander, gravitating towards whatever object you find most interesting. Even if you’re on a guided tour, you can direct your vision around the room, focusing on different objects. In his post, Evans also turned to two other individuals with limited mobility and asked them to share their telepresence robot tour experiences. Stuart Turner from England wrote, “The museum tours are a precious thing to me. They give me agency to be able to explore in a way that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”(Evans, 2014). Telepresence robots have the potential to authentically extend access to historically excluded audiences.

While the institutions featured in the Center for the Future of Museums post, including the National Museum of Australia and the Computer History Museum, were experimenting with using telepresence robots to bring tourists into gallery spaces, some museums, like New York’s American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), are using their robots to bring distant subject experts into the galleries to share their knowledge with visitors. In a blog post about implementing their telepresence program, AMNH Associate Director for Digital Learning, Barry Joseph, explained the process of partnering with the Haida Gwaii Museum in British Columbia, Canada, to connect visitors to the places and cultures in the world where the objects originally came from. Joseph said, “At its core, the idea was to create a personal moment of self-discovery supporting visitors to reflect on what it means in the 21st century to encounter 19th century treasures from indigenous communities.” (Joseph, 2015). The program employs two telepresence robots, one in the AMNH galleries and one at the Haida Gwaii. Visitors to AMNH can be greeted by Haida Gwaii docents or tour that museum on their own by driving the telepresence robot stationed there. This project puts indigenous objects in context and amplifies voices that are so often lost in the anthropology collections of the west, employing telepresence robots to expand access and inclusion in a unique, mission-centered way.

While many museums are achieving success with telepresence robot tours with adults, little has been done to test similar tours with young classroom learners. BPOC and SDASM focused on this specific demographic through Museum at Your Fingertips to understand how to capture and expand these young audiences. Would a video feed be enough to keep young students engaged? How would a robotic tour stack up to an in-person visit? What advantages would telepresence robots have over other video-based technology? With these questions in mind, BPOC and SDASM set about bringing Museum at Your Fingertips to young audiences.

What are the technological capabilities and limitations of telepresence in museums?

The first step for the Museum at Your Fingertips team was to test whether the technological capabilities of telepresence would accommodate classroom tours. Curators immediately expressed concern about the havoc a five-foot-tall remote-control robot could wreak in the galleries. The project team agreed to always have a person accompanying the robot. The BeamPro operates using WiFi, and while BPOC provides free WiFi throughout Balboa Park, the project team needed to ensure the BeamPro had a strong signal throughout the whole museum in order to ensure the robot would not cut out and drop sessions. Through a series of driving tests, BPOC determined the BeamPro moved better when there were fewer visitors using the WiFi. To improve this signal, BPOC created a Service Set Identifier or, SSID. This private, password-protected network was meant for the robot’s exclusive use. In addition, the BeamPro’s manufacturer explained that a mobile 4G hotspot could be attached to the robot to improve service. This hotspot would need to be paid for through a 4G service provider. In this case, the SSID was enough to get the BeamPro through the entire museum with ease, even over uneven metal ramps and wood floors.

Once the project team established a quality WiFi connection, they began assessing the experience from the driver’s side. SDASM provided a list of ten possible tour stops while BPOC performed test runs of the robot through the museum. The most important finding from these test drives was that while the BeamPro camera has pan and tilt options, it could only view up to five meters high. SDASM has a number of aircraft that hang from the ceiling to simulate flight, including some of the tour stop collections. Recognizing the difficulty tour takers would have properly viewing these stops, BPOC recommended choosing objects placed on the floor. Looking at the selected airplanes through the BeamPro, another issue arose: glare. SDASM uses natural ambient light throughout the museum, which presents a challenge for computer screens. The team worked to establish marks where the BeamPro should stop for glare reduction and optimal viewing. Noise was another technical consideration. SDASM is a lively, dynamic museum, and its many videos and interactives initially created a poor acoustic experience for the driver. BPOC discovered that, in addition to having microphone and playback volume control, the BeamPro software also has a party mode, tailored for loud environments. Party mode allowed both the driver and tour guide to hear and be heard during tours. With these technical aspects addressed, BPOC turned its attention to enhancing the tour experience in other ways.

Museum at Your Fingertips originally included plans for a GPS-enabled, map-based website that students could use alongside the BeamPro. The website would give students a better sense of their location in the museum, providing a tour experience that more closely replicated a real visit. During the testing phase, the project team discovered the BeamPro had no GPS capabilities, and that the manufacturer had no near-term plans to support location functionality. BPOC hypothesized that beacon technology might achieve the desired effect. When placed throughout a space, beacons form a sonar-like system. Objects such as smartphones radiate Bluetooth signals, and these signals are picked up by receptors that use the relative signal strength to determine the emitting objects’ location in the space (iBeacon Insider, n.d.). The challenges with implementing beacons in the museum space, including finding appropriate placement and regularly updating beacon firmware and batteries, have been well-documented in projects like the Brooklyn Museum’s ASK app (Bernstein, 2016). Recognizing that experimenting with beacon technology would be complicated and a potential distraction from the true purpose of the project, BPOC turned its attention to geolocation technology as a potentially simpler way to track the BeamPro as it moved through the museum.

Geolocation technology uses both WiFi and GPS satellite signals to plot a smartphone’s location (Ionescu, 2010). To test geolocation technology, BPOC attached smartphones, first an Android and then an iPhone, to the back of the BeamPro and linked into its USB port for power. The team then drove the robot around the museum’s circular interior, while running a simple program written by BPOC developers to plot GPS coordinates. The program documented coordinate points at fifteen-second intervals, capturing roughly one hundred points from a walk around the museum. The tests resulted in great disparity of data points, with the two smartphones achieving varied levels of success. Some data points appeared inside the museum, but many were located outside, and even across the nearby highway. BPOC’s developer posited this technology would perform better if the museum’s floor plan was included in Google Maps. The team started on this process, but unfortunately, Google did not incorporate the floor plan fast enough for the purposes of the project. With unsuccessful GPS results, the team decided to put the power of location in the hands of the tour guide, which was the project’s initial focus.

As noted above, the project team agreed that the robot would always be accompanied by a human for the safety of the collections; this also ensured that a tour guide would be able to provide students with educational content. The project team decided the simplest, most effective solution to its geolocation problems would be to build a Web app that would allow tour guides to manually trigger location updates to tour-takers’ maps, employing a sort of human-GPS. As soon as this idea was proposed, the team got excited about the potential to allow a docent to trigger not just location, but also media related to the museum and its tour stops. This solution offered the added benefit of enhancing the tour experience and educational value.

In addition to including GPS functionality, BPOC initially hoped to embed the telepresence driver screen into the map-based website it was developing. The team quickly discovered the BeamPro software prohibits this sort of design modification for security reasons. BPOC overcame this limitation by designing a separate website that could easily run side-by-side with the driver software. BPOC developers and user-experience experts created the site and connected Web app in the simple flat-file content management system Statamic. They built the sites to be easy to use for both tour guides and tour takers. Tour guides using the app were greeted by a simple interface, with clearly labeled buttons, which they could push to trigger content. When tour takers logged into the map website, they were prompted with directions which explained how to set up the website screen side-by-side with the BeamPro driving software for an optimal experience. When a docent triggered additional content via the app, the website automatically sized the video or image up to cover the driver window and scaled it back down to allow users to continue driving. The team ran numerous tests before launch to ensure the sites communicated properly.

Screenshot of web app listing airplane types
Figure 1: screenshot of the docent app view

 

Screenshot of website with instructions for setup
Figure 2: screenshot of the tour website with instructions for setup for students and teachers

 

Screenshot of map and BeamPro driver screen side by side
Figure 3: screenshot of BeamPro tour website fully set up

With a website and Web app designed, developed, tested, and ready to launch, BPOC set out to reduce the time required by teachers to familiarize themselves with this new technology. BPOC created an in-depth user guide and made classroom visits to help set up, test, and train teachers on the software. While to some extent, this defeated the purpose of telepresence, providing in-person training helped convince teachers that participating in these early tests would not waste classroom time with technical problems. Indeed, these tests brought to light the biggest technical issue: school firewalls. Intended to police access to inappropriate content, these firewalls also blocked access to the BeamPro. These security issues were almost fatal to the project, causing at least two schools to cancel their tours and trying teachers’ patience. Teachers whose schedules were thrown off by firewall issues were less likely to answer subsequent survey questions, taking away much of the hard data about educational value that that the project team hoped to collect. Once the project team knew firewalls would be an issue, they began resolving the problem up front, advising teachers to put in tickets with IT services as soon as tours were scheduled. The technical tests undertaken at the beginning of this project proved that these types of classroom tours are possible from a technical standpoint, and taught us the biggest technical lesson: address potential firewall problems as soon as possible.

How useful is the device as a learning tool in the classroom?

Throughout the process of testing and enhancing the BeamPro’s technical abilities, the project team kept educational goals at the forefront. SDASM’s education team took the lead on this and began by picking the tour stops. While technical limitations changed some of their initial selections, SDASM chose aircraft and developed content that could flex to fit school curriculums for a variety of subjects and grade levels, from third grade history to sixth grade science. Selected objects highlighted the diversity of flight pioneers, including a replica of Amelia Earhart’s plane, a plane flown by Tuskegee Airmen, and the Apollo 9 Space Module. Educators worked hard to find objects all students could connect with. The tour itinerary, like the museum itself, represented a journey through time, beginning with early flight and ending with space exploration. The resulting tour script was educational, exciting, and adaptable.

Drawing on classroom experience, SDASM educators were explicit that the interactive companion website would need to grab students’ attention to keep them engaged. The educators worked with BPOC designers to conclude that a cartoon-style museum map would be the most successful strategy. BPOC’s designers sketched out a series of colorful airplanes to represent the tour stops. Because the telepresence robot itself so fascinated students in early tests, educators decided to personify the BeamPro and provide it with a flight jacket. The team believed the outfit would benefit classroom learners and museum visitors alike. Students would have a persona to relate to when talking about the robot, and visitors to the galleries, initially apprehensive about the large, unidentified object roaming alongside them, might find the attire made the robot more friendly and approachable.

The team also believed the tour guide’s ability to trigger content from the app would be an opportunity to capture classroom interest and provide richer learning experiences. SDASM provided archival photos, videos, and aeronautical 3-view drawings that the tour guide could push to school screens as they talked about the airplanes in the galleries. The students would be able to see a motionless airplane set up in the gallery and then see archival video of it taking off. Prepared with what they hoped would be an educational and engaging tour and website, it was time to really put the Museum at Your Fingertips project to the test by bringing it to the students.

To assess the BeamPro’s educational value, SDASM reached out to its Title I partner schools, leveraged social media, and handed out flyers with program information. Ultimately, the project team tested tours in five schools, with ten classrooms (most schools wanted the tour in multiple classrooms). Students from grade levels three to six participated. The tours themselves were exciting to observe and BPOC recorded classroom audio in order to review the students’ reactions after the tours. The teacher drove the robot via a laptop connected to a large projection screen. Students audibly ooh-ed and ahh-ed as their teacher drove the BeamPro around the museum. Excitement, attention span, and focus differed from classroom to classroom, but in general, younger students were more engaged than older students, and focus tended to decrease towards the end of the 45-minute tours. Despite this, students in all classrooms actively asked and answered questions and jumped at the chance to themselves drive the robot, when the opportunity was offered towards the end of the tours.

It became clear during the classroom tests that the tours were succeeding, in large part due to the knowledge and enthusiasm of Rossco Davis, the SDASM educator and tour guide. Davis jumped over museum stanchions to spin propellers on replica airplanes. He asked students questions and gave them ample chance to ask their own. Davis’ boundless energy traveled through the technology and into the classroom, confirming that a positive museum experience, in person or from afar, still depends largely on people. One student remarked on Davis’ account of historical events, saying “It’s like he is reliving everything all over again,” as if Davis had been a WWI biplane pilot. In general, student comments were positive, though one made a telling remark: “I wish we could be in the museum right now.” This experience, while exciting for students, could not take the place of an in-person visit.

While the project was initially designed to include comprehensive evaluation through teacher surveys, most time-crunched teachers, further taxed by firewall issues, did not complete the survey despite repeated requests. The majority of teachers instead gave feedback in the form of brief e-mail replies. Only one teacher, who had organized the tour for 53 fourth and fifth grade students, responded to the survey. On a five-point scale, the teacher rated the students as “5-Extremely Engaged,” and when asked about the tour’s educational value chose “4-Enhanced the curriculum.” Asked about how the experience compared with in-person field trips, the teacher selected “4-It was better in some ways, and not in others” and elaborated on this by saying, students were interested in the technology being utilized,” but also that, “some kids were losing focus/attention because of the lack of ‘intimacy’ that goes along with a small group.” In the short answer section, the teacher provided suggestions to remedy this, including allowing students to type questions into tablets and sending items from a teaching collection for students to touch and engage with during the tour.

The teachers who supplied feedback via e-mail did so in the context of thank you notes and were therefore generally more positive and less reflective. One commented that the tour “offers an encouraging demonstration of how technology can be infused into museum education and virtual learning,” and affirmed that telepresence tours have “the potential to be a vital learning tool in the classroom.” (personal communication, 2015). Another noted, “I imagine that this program will be a HUGE success for students that are unable to come to the museum in person!” (personal communication, 2015). While technological challenges made the solicitation of meaningful feedback about the educational value difficult, the small amount received was enough to be encouraging. Now that issues around firewalls and teachers’ limited time to respond to evaluations are identified, they can be addressed in future tests. Altogether, classroom tests, student reactions, and teacher comments proved that while there is room for improvement and future experimentation, telepresence robot tours have the potential to provide memorable, effective, and educational classroom experiences.

Is this project worth replicating in other museums?

The Museum at Your Fingertips project developed a model of telepresence tours for classrooms that can be reasonably replicated by other museums. Generally speaking, there are four main components that are vital to the success of projects following this model: (1) a telepresence robot; (2) a museum with robust WiFi; (3) a computer with a webcam connected to the Internet; and (4) most importantly, great people. In addition to the four vital components identified, BPOC and SDASM have developed additional recommendations for how to make school telepresence robot tour programs successful. Make sure to test out stops before including them on a tour itinerary; address firewall issues as early as possible; and consider using a companion website. In this project the companion website kept students engaged and gave the museum a new and exciting way to expose archival materials.

The most basic thing required to make telepresence robot programs work is also the most expensive: a telepresence robot. While this project employed the BeamPro by Suitable Technologies, a number of companies sell telepresence robots at a variety of price points, from around $3,000 to $16,000, depending on features. While the cost of telepresence robots may be prohibitive for many museums, grant-givers and partner organizations may look favorably on similar projects, since a one-time fee can provide access to unlimited schools and audiences worldwide over the long term. The most essential factor for the success of a project like this is perhaps the most difficult to ensure: high quality staff. Without the energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge of SDASM’s tour guide and educator Rossco Davis, these virtual tours would not have been nearly as successful. The same should be said of the teachers who drove the BeamPro around the museum, while simultaneously facilitating discussion among their students. Technology may solve some basic problems of museum accessibility, but person-to-person interaction remains the foundation of quality learning experiences. Because of the importance of people to this project, implementing similar programs would involve significant museum staff time. Outside of the cost of the telepresence robot, this project had a budget of $37,000, which included website development, tour scripting, and project management and implementation. BPOC and SDASM are still working out a financial model for telepresence robot tour programs, and are hoping to create more definite recommendations for creating a sustainable tour program that continues to serve students, both locally and globally.

Knowing that this project is replicable, the question remains as to whether it is worth pursuing. Some may argue that having a tour guide and set route destroys the agency and exploration that makes telepresence unique. Why not use more traditional distance education methods? Couldn’t students engage with educators through a traditional video feed? Couldn’t tour guides be equipped with Web cams? The project team set out to prove there was something unique about allowing the classroom to drive the robot through the museum space, to look around at will, to directly face the tour guide during conversations, and to take advantage of the unique opportunities to further enhance the telepresence experience. Despite hiccups, BPOC and SDASM believe that Museum at Your Fingertips at least proved additional testing is warranted. Future projects, already aware of technical challenges such as firewalls, should carefully consider how to evaluate the educational value of telepresence tours. Comparing the learning outcomes of this project to those of other virtual education experiences was outside the scope of this project, but future projects will need to look into this topic.

Interest in telepresence robot tours is strong within the museum field, even if many museums do not believe they are ready for them yet. BPOC and SDASM hosted a series of four Twitter chats, using #EduBeam to raise interest in and awareness about the project. These chats attracted feedback and input from museum educators nationwide and proved that museums are interested in telepresence tours (BPOC, 2016). Within Balboa Park, BPOC demonstrated its BeamPro project at the Balboa Park Educators Committee and the annual Balboa Park Garden Party. After seeing BPOC and SDASM’s work with Museum at Your Fingertips, other organizations have expressed interest in potential partnerships for future projects and initiatives using the BeamPro. The San Diego Museum of Art borrowed the BeamPro to allow a woman living at a senior center on the east coast to take a tour with her San Diego-based children and grandchildren on her 100th birthday. The only hesitation of museums within Balboa Park is lack of a proven model that covers the cost of both the telepresence robot and staff time. BPOC continues to investigate this issue, looking into how to share costs, searching for interested grantees, and soliciting feedback from the maker of the BeamPro, Suitable Technologies.

BPOC and SDASM would like to find ways to continue growing and testing this and similar programs. Independent of Museum at Your Fingertips tests in schools, SDASM implemented a telepresence robot tour program for adults who live far away or have lower mobility (San Diego Air and Space Museum, n.d.). BPOC is particularly interested in testing this model with special needs classrooms, whose circumstances may limit their ability to take part in museum field trips. There is room to test the value and improve upon classroom telepresence robot tours. BPOC is also interested in testing out telepresence robot tours with smaller groups of students, perhaps as part of an activity rotation within a classroom, or with individual students interested in visiting museums as part of research projects. The model followed by Museum At Your Fingertips followed closely that of the traditional museum visit. Perhaps there are new models, not yet thought of, that better suit the abilities of telepresence robots.

Conclusion

Museum at Your Fingertips proved that telepresence robots could be used to create meaningful museum tour experiences for classrooms, thereby expanding access to museums. Museum telepresence tours are technologically possible, educationally valuable, and reasonably replicable. Issues with schools’ firewalls showed this concern would need to be addressed as soon as tours were scheduled. Additional tests are needed to get better feedback, and evaluations must be built in such a way that they are easy for students and teachers to complete. More tests are required to explore the true potential of a tool like this, but early tests show promise and potential to create something that truly expands accessibility.

While tests were successful, they also showed that virtual tours cannot take the place of actual museum visits when that option is available. Students who said they wished they could be at the museum in person proved this. However, when money, time, distance, or a combination of factors prevents students from getting to museums, telepresence robot tours are acceptable alternatives. A tour like this also has advantages for students studying technology and robotics. Students’ oohs and ahhs showed that there is something unique about visiting a museum via robot. Perhaps the biggest takeaways was that whether it be a robot-based visit or an in-person visit, the quality of a museum experience depends largely on the effort of the staff involved. An energetic, engaging educator on the other end of the robot goes a long way towards producing a quality tour. Technology cannot take the place of human experiences, but it can make these experiences stronger and spread them further.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Misty Suposs, Carlos Almanza, Rossco Davis, Wes Hsu, Jason Alderman, and the rest of the team that designed and carried out the Museum at Your Fingertips project.

References

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Cite as:
. "Museum at your fingertips: telepresence tours for schools." MW17: MW 2017. Published January 14, 2017. Consulted .
https://mw17.mwconf.org/paper/museum-at-your-fingertips-telepresence-tours-for-schools/


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