Exploring Computer-Supported Professional Development for Novice Museum and Zoo Professionals
Association for Computing Machinery
Zoos and museums often rely on interpretive staff, called explainers, to facilitate visitors' learning through conversations and demonstrations. Many explainers begin their careers as teens, and would benefit from ongoing Professional Development (PD). As institutions begin to use mobile devices to enhance explainers' interpretation, new opportunities arise to support explainers' individual and collaborative professional development. This paper presents the results of structured participatory design sessions to engage explainers in examining and proposing features for a Facilitation, Reflection, and Augmented Interpretation Mobile System (FRAIMS). The goal for FRAIMS is to support everyday interpretive tasks while also gathering information on how explainers perform that interpretation (both passively, via logging and recording, and actively, via self-reports and ratings) to support them in their PD. Reflecting on one's own performance and the performance of others is a powerful PD strategy, but can be emotionally fraught. Via participatory design sessions with expert, in-development, and novice explainers at different informal learning institutions, we found that explainers' preferences for socially sharing performance information gathered via mobile devices varied with their experience. We detail emerging themes captured from the sessions and make suggestions for how these findings might apply more broadly to computer-supported professional development systems.