Tag Archives: Tours for Kids

App Spotlight: The Noah Webster House

30 Mar

Noah-Webster-App-HomeQ&A with Sarah St. Germain, Coordinator of Public Programs at the Noah Webster House

The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society is located in the restored birthplace and childhood home of Noah Webster. Webster was a national figure known not only for the first American dictionary and the Blue-Backed Speller, but also for being a federalist, an abolitionist, and a cofounder of Amherst College.

Our team worked closely with the Noah Webster House to create a unique custom design and help build a striking multilingual app. The app was designed especially for onsite tablet devices. It features English and Spanish tours, unique content for children, and closed captioned videos to better meet their accessibility goals.

Q. How many visitors do you see a year?

A. Around 4,000 visitors take tours of the house each year.

Q. What were the main goals for creating your app?

A. We wanted to extend our audience and reach out to the deaf, hard of hearing, and Spanish speaking communities. West Hartford, Connecticut is a highly diverse town and we want to be able to offer an experience that just about anyone can enjoy. We would like to expand the tour to other languages in the future.

Noah-Webster-App-RoomQ. How does it enhance the visitor experience?

A. The videos, object information, and narration give a completely different story than we’ve told in the past. It includes videos of an actor playing Noah Webster and using his words to tell the story of his life. Each one is only a couple of minutes long. We also included videos of local experts talking about and demonstrating a variety of things. Hearth cooking, weaving, architecture, room use, etc. And with the videos for kids, by kids, there’s something for every age group. Visitors love to see the kids react to eating colonial foods that are weird to kids now, like black pudding and clams.

Q. How are you using the app?

A. We’re using the app on days when we don’t have a tour guide.

Q. How are onsite devices used in your mobile strategy?

A. We only have four tablets available now, but we’re hoping to add more soon. Each tablet is loaded with the proprietary app and can be used by one or more visitors.

Q. Why did you choose to have onsite devices only, and not a web or native app for download in the app stores?

A. Since the app covers the entire house, we decided not to give away our tour completely. We still want people to come to our site to see the historic house and interact with it and our exhibits. We are planning to post some of the videos and highlights on our website at some point.

Q. Can you tell us a little about how you created the content?

A. It was a lot of trial and error because we had a ton of information and each room narration was originally about 7 minutes. But visitors don’t want to listen to something for that long, so we found different ways to share the info, like the videos, object information, and the paintings.

Q. How did you plan the app?

A. We did a survey in 2011 about how people like to tour a museum. Half wanted a guided tour, while the other half wanted a self-guided tour. We can now cater to just about everyone.

Q. What advice would you give to other organizations who are looking to create an app?

A. Get funding first! It was a tough road to get planning grants, then have to apply and reapply for implementation grants. The funding was definitely why it took so long to finalize the app. If you can layout your entire plan first and talk to the funders along the way, it will save you a lot of time. In the end, the changes we made along the way have made our tour stronger and more applicable to our site.

Q. How are you marketing the app?

A. We’ve sent out press releases and emails, but we also have an exhibit space in Blue Back Square in West Hartford Center. It’s a changing screen that includes info on upcoming programs and events. We have the tablet tour in the mix, so hundreds of people see it every day.

Q. What part of the app is a staff favorite?

A. We LOVE the art! Monica Vachula, the artist behind the imagery, did an amazing job at giving the historic house a more lively look. You can see the room in front of you, then look at the tablet and see what the room might have looked like with the Websters in it. There is a painting for each room, so it’s hard to choose a favorite.

Noah-Webster-House-Tour-Object

 

Though the Noah Webster House tour is not available for download, visit www.noahwebsterhouse.org to learn more about the lexicographer who strongly believed that the United States had a distinctive brand of English with its own idiom, pronunciation, and style, and published the first truly American dictionary in 1783.

Saratoga National Historic Park and OnCell-TourSphere Partner to Revamp Mobile App

26 Feb

Redesigned Self-Guided Tour App Offers Visitors Elegant, User-Friendly Experience

OnCell-TourSphere NPS Saratoga National Historic Park Tour App

STILLWATER, N.Y., February 25, 2015–Saratoga National Historic Park has partnered with OnCell-TourSphere to launch their newly redesigned mobile tour app. The two worked closely together to create a custom branded app to achieve the iconic National Park Service look and meet their strict design standards. The self-guided audio tour serves to educate visitors and armchair travelers alike about the pivotal 1777 Battles of Saratoga during the American Revolutionary War.

Saratoga National Historic Park originally launched their first audio tour with OnCell-TourSphere in 2007–a cell phone tour where visitors dialed a phone number to listen to audio content. The tour has been transformed into a unique app in order to offer a clean, user-friendly experience for visitors and to better meet the park’s interpretive goals while providing consistent NPS branding.

“Feedback from visitors using the basic cell tour were always very positive–I can only imagine they will be even more pleased with this new incarnation of the tour” says says Gina Johnson, Chief of Interpretation at Saratoga National Historic Park. “The new app offers a fabulous opportunity to tell our story and a new way for visitors to enjoy the park.”

The app features engaging content for over 30 points of interest, including images and an audio tour of the battlefield created by the Friends of Saratoga Battlefield. Visitors can also listen to the new Wilkinson Trail Hiking Tour, an immersive soundscape with two distinct tours, one for adults and a student-narrated one for children. The Wilkinson Trail tours were created by Park Rangers, volunteers, and interns. Visitors can discover points of interest with location aware alerts and GPS-enabled maps.

Built with OnCell-TourSphere’s flexible app-building platform, the site intends to add more stories and additional park visitor information to the app over time. The mobile web app can be accessed on any web-enabled device at: http://sara.toursphere.com

About Saratoga National Historic Park
Saratoga National Historic Park preserves the site of the 1777 Battles of Saratoga, the “Turning Point of the American Revolution,” which have been called the “most important battle(s) in the last 1000 years.” Located on pastoral bluffs above the Hudson River, the two hotly contested battles fought against the British here ended in an American victory that made independence possible and spread the powerful ideas of democracy throughout the world. First authorized as a New York State historic preserve in 1927, the Battlefield was later made part of the National Park System in 1938.

About OnCell-TourSphere
OnCell-TourSphere provides a full range of mobile tour solutions for museums and cultural destinations. 
With a variety of interactive services such as a DIY app builder, smartphone apps, mobile web apps, audio tours, beacons, and scavenger hunts, OnCell-TourSphere helps organizations become mobile-friendly. As mobile communication experts who are passionate about the arts and education, the OnCell-TourSphere team has worked on over 2,000 projects both in the U.S. and internationally since its inception in 2006.

Media Contacts:
Monica Barndt, OnCell-TourSphere, (585) 419-9844
Gina Johnson, NPS Saratoga National Historic Park, (563) 652-5020

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App Spotlight: Connecticut River Museum’s April 8, 1814 British Raid Walking Tour

2 Jun

Q&A with Jennifer White-Dobbs, Director of Education

Scan the QR code to access the audio tour app!

Scan the QR code to experience the audio tour app!

The Connecticut River Museum, in historic Essex, CT, is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley. It plays an important role in collecting and protecting manuscripts, books, art, and artifacts of regional significance. This app details the historic 1814 Raid by the British on Essex, and is one of many ways offered by the museum to interact with the story, allowing users to discover details of the event. The app was built to complement their newly redesigned British Raid on Essex exhibit.

The tour takes the user across Essex Village and follows two children, Austin and Emma, as they experience the raid first hand. In an effort to bring more interactivity to the experience, most of the sites on the tour encourage users to participate in activities along the way. The Connecticut River Museum used the TourSphere App Builder to build their own app and created the content in-house by creatively utilizing their resources. Curator Amy Trout, coordinator of all the Battlesite research, wrote the script. They enlisted one of their trustees, who does voiceover work, to help with audio production and editing, and brought in children of employees to narrate.

Q: What are your interpretive goals for the Battlesite Essex project and what are the benefits for visitors to use the app?

A: We wanted to raise awareness and understanding of the April 8, 1814 event, and through that, emphasize the fact that history happens here (and everywhere!) This project offers a way for visitors to take the information in the museum’s exhibit and bring it out into the landscape, explore Essex Village, and retrace the event along the way–it’s something fun for visitors to do together as family and friends.

Q: What inspired you to have the tour experience seen through children’s eyes?

A: We wanted to emphasize this as an activity for families and inter-generational groups of visitors. The intent was to keep the story fairly basic and not be overly academic. We already have the exhibit which offers the greater details and analysis, so using the kids as narrators kept it fresh and upbeat.

Q: What advice would you give to other organizations who are looking to create an app?

1. Make sure you offer information in layers to engage a variety of users.
2. Walk the route a lot (even if you think you know it).
3. Less can be more (if you have lots of info to share, combine the tour with an exhibit, printed guide, website or other way for folks to get the info).
4. Work as a team, different perspectives are key in a project like this because users will come at your product from different places.

Q: How did you like working with the App Builder?

A: The App Builder was very easy to use. The video tutorials and staff training session addressed almost all the areas that could have been issues. Everyone was great at answering questions promptly when things cropped up. The App Builder was actually fun to work with and being able to preview as you went was very handy.

For more on info on producing your own content in-house check out our do-it-yourself series.

April 8, 1814 - The British Raid on Essex mobile audio tour app. To access the tour scan the QR Code above or type http://connecticutrivermuseum.toursphere.com into your web-enabled device

April 8, 1814 – The British Raid on Essex mobile audio tour app. To access the tour scan the QR Code above or type http://connecticutrivermuseum.toursphere.com into your web-enabled device

Murder Goes Mobile at the Met!

11 May

Murder at the Met

What do Madame X, a murder, and a mobile phone have in common? They are all part of Murder at the Museum: An American Art Mystery, the first mobile detective game created by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The app was built on TourSphere and produced by Green Door Labs.

Through the smartphone app, Met visitors are transported back in time to 1899, where they are attending an evening gala and are shocked to learn of the murder of Virginie Gautreau–who has since been immortalized in the painting Madame X by John Singer Sargent. Thanks to the app, every visitor becomes a detective, using their smartphones to explore museum objects and interview suspects and witnesses to unearth the killer, his or her weapon, the place of the murder, and the killer’s motive.

This game is built 100% on the TourSphere mobile app builder platform and is an amazing example of the flexibility and power of the TourSphere mobile platform.  Thanks to TourSphere, the Met was able to create one murder mystery game that works on all smartphone platforms, instead of  developing individual apps for the iPhone®, Android®, and Windows®.

For more visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Official site.

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