Sunday, March 13, 2011

My SI ASB 2011 at The Adler Planetarium Week Wrap-up and Reflection

The School of Information's Alternative Spring Break has come to a close.  I had such a great time volunteering at Adler Planetarium.

Following my last update midway through the week my project took a turn for the worse... just kidding.  Actually Debbie B. and I worked on revising the survey for larger audience distribution and looking to add qualification questions for non visitors as well.  We previously conducted our survey with Google Doc Forms and for the large distribution after we left they wanted to use SurveyMonkey... needless to say Google's method was much easier to input the questions and arrange them.  SurveyMonkey caused headaches left and right and took a combined effort to find out where it was messing up and rearranging our logic.  It took 6 hours to get straight due to errors within SurveyMonkey and their logic handling/auto rearrangement.

Reflection and Thoughts:
Now that a week has passed I have had a chance to reflect upon my experience at Adler.  I not only received the opportunity to lend my skills to a worthy organization I met and bonded with some people at the School of Information that I did not see regularly.

The Alternative Spring Break experience is not only a great way to give to an organization where an individual can make a real impact, but a place where one gets the opportunity to share memories with classmates.

I would definitely participate again and I plan to support it in the future.

Support Future ASB Programs:
If you feed inclined to donate to help support this opportunity for more students to participate in more volunteer opportunities at nonprofits in Chicago, Washington D.C., Detroit, and New York make a donation via my Crowdrise account raising funds for the program: Make a Donation

Thursday, March 3, 2011

School of Information Alternative Spring Break 2011 Mid Week Update

Adler Planetarium a.k.a. "The Adler Planetarium" is the first planetarium in the US and a really cool place that has much more to it than what meets the eye.  I am not stating this because I am currently volunteering there this week nor because I am a science geek... well maybe a little.  My experience at The Adler Planetarium has helped me learn and as much as I have share with the people there during Alternative Spring Break (ASB).

Adler Planetarium is very lively for being around so long.  It has active space research and interactive experiences being created right there through various partnerships.  Their Journey to the Stars show is one of the best space visualizations that I have seen. For the first time being at Adler I am really enjoying the behind the scenes experience.

So, what have I been doing at Adler you might think?  Well, I am a social media intern here along with Debbie B. from the University of Michigan School of Information Masters of Information program.  We have been working with Angelique R. at The Adler Planetarium on many tasks.  We have focused thus far on a few areas: mobile device use in museums, social media strategy and enhancement, comparative analysis of local museum web offerings, and how to enhance the website and exhibits with social aspects facilitated by technology.  

Over the course of this week we studied the Adler Museum and Field Museum's website.  On Friday we will look at the Shedd Aquarium's website.  Both the social media interns and web interns are conducting these looks at the websites to provide feedback on what is done well and what could be improved.  A part of this comparison included venturing to these locations to check out the exhibits and look at how social media was being integrated into the exhibits already.... I have included the pictures I have gathered when I arrived, where I have gone, and what I gathered while on the comparison visits.  You can view them and follow along on my adventure if you wish: The ASB 2011 Experience Photos Disclosure: ASB only covers travel to and from Chicago and the hostel while we are here... the food in the photos was paid for from my pocket. 

Debbie B. and I created and conducted a pilot survey on mobile technology use in museums.  It focused on current use and desired use.  We created a revised edition of the survey that will be used to reach a larger sample of visitors and fans via an online survey using social media and other mediums.

The mobile extension of the exhibits fell both in Human Computer Interaction as well as Social Computing since they are intertwined in some areas.  We worked on how you can extend the experience beyond the exhibits and the device you use... but the results are secret. ;)

I am really happy that SI ASB exists and that I received the opportunity to give my knowledge and skills to a nonprofit that does not have the resources to do this work alone. 

I look forward to the days ahead and thank all those who supported my both motivationally and financially.

If you think that this experience is great and that it should be a program that continues show your support by sharing this program with those who might find it interesting or support its current and future with a donation.  

The Alternative Spring Break program costs ~$35,000 to send and house all 105 students to various cities to volunteer.  I set a goal to raise $2500 to support myself and 4 others, but I am only 4% of the way there.  A small or large donation helps to keep this program going: fundraising page for ASB.