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About

The Handheld Online Conference is for museum professionals who want to know more about how the recent wave of mobile devices and portable computing can benefit their institutions, their patrons and their learners. Despite having been introduced more than 50 years ago, audio tours have never quite gained the status of an indispensable part of the visit to museums and cultural sites. They tend to be a ‘nice-to-have’ rather than a have-to-have, and many cultural professionals and members of the public remain downright hostile to the platform. By contrast, in the past decade, one new technology after another has been heralded as a revolutionary tool for the next generation of museum interpretation: multimedia tours, phone tours, podcasts and downloadable audio tours; even text-message tours have all come on the scene amid high expectations, but have so far failed to transform significantly the traditional museum landscape of wall labels and catalogues. Moreover, although many if not a majority of museums now get more visitors online than in person, a minority of visitors use technology for on-site interpretation, opting instead for traditional 'analog' tools if any at almost all cultural sites worldwide. So are the new technologies doomed simply to replace the traditional audio tour with an ever more sophisticated and bewildering, but no less marginal, array of solutions for providing museum interpretation? It’s in the context of this repeating cycle of dashed new technology hopes that the Handheld Online Conference aims to frame the question of mobile museum interpretation differently. There is no specific technology or platform that will revolutionize our visitors’ museum experiences, but rather our visitors are transforming the museum visit themselves through new informational practices that they are importing to the museum from their Web 2.0 lives.  WWW has come to mean “whatever, whenever, wherever” and the question of the future of museum interpretation has become not one of what technology our visitors will prefer, but rather of where, when, and how they want to engage with the museum, both on-site and beyond. Museum and education professionals with real-world experience in handheld program design and development facilitate interactive, real-time discussions with participants across the globe during this one-day completely online event on June 3, 2009.  Join us!

A Green Conference

Participants joined this powerful professional development event right from theirs desktops! Low in carbon and high in access to people helping realize the potential of handheld devices.

One-Day Online Conference

The Handheld Online Conference took place June 3, 2009 and included three interactive, live online events featuring museum professionals doing exciting work with handhelds. See the session recordings.

International Survey

Please take 10 minutes to help improve knowledge sharing in the field of "Handheld Guides". Our objective is a better collective understanding of the museum community’s use and ambitions with handheld guides / mobile interpretation. Participate Now….