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Pre-conference Workshops are half-day interactive sessions held the day before the conference (Tuesday, November 13, 2018) that provide hands-on learning and key learning opportunities. This is the conference in-depth learning opportunity, and attendees pay an additional fee to attend these sessions. 

Advanced Registration Required!

  • Workshops are optional and must be purchased in addition to the conference registration. 
  • Workshop Fee: $150 per workshop.
  • Space is limited so make sure you make your selection early.

WORKSHOP 1: User-Experience Design/ Human-Centered Design Crash Course

Workshop leaders:

  • Seema Rao, Principal, Brilliant Idea Studio
  • Effie Kapsalis, Chief of Content & Communications Strategy, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
  • Elena Villaespesa, Assistant Professor, Pratt Institute
  • Dana Allen-Greil, Chief, Web and Social Media, National Archives (U.S.)
  • Annelisa Stephan, Manager for Digital Engagement, J. Paul Getty Trust

This workshop is designed to introduce participants to the scope and breadth of User Experience Design (UXD) (aka Human-Centered Design (HCD)) techniques and their benefits for museum work. The UXD field employs user feedback in producing meaningful products and experiences—a working knowledge of UX practices helps museum workers in all fields improve visitor experiences. With a heterogeneous group of presenters, including User Experience Designers, content strategists, and self-trained museum professionals working as UX teams of one, this workshop will offer all participants instruction, mentorship, and hands-on practice at their desired knowledge level.

This workshop will help participants understand the types of UX methods and their uses. Participants will get hands-on experience in foundational UX and human-centered design tools including journey/experience mapping, card sorting, remote testing and usability techniques, and heat maps. Finally, participants will consider how to bring these tools into museum work and how to upscale skills of existing work teams. 

This participatory workshop will blend lecture and hands-on learning to accommodate multiple levels of UXD experience. A short introductory lecture will define concepts, tools, and potential uses, and outline which techniques to use when. Workshop participants will then explore a number of user-experience tools and technologies using their own case studies (for 1.5 hours), with workshop leaders splitting up to mentor small groups. At the end of this portion, participants will have gained hands-on experience in four different techniques. The workshop will conclude with a discussion about putting these practices into action with emerging UX teams sharing what they’re doing to enact user-centered practices in their own institutions. A short presentation and discussion will help participants explore building momentum for UXD in their work teams and increasing staff skills.

Workshop overview:

  • Definitions of UXD and HCD Terms
  • Overview of UXD/HCD methods and possible uses
  • UXD/HCD method exploration
  • Journey Mapping/ Experience Mapping
  • Card Sorting
  • Remote Testing
  • Employing UXD/HCD Tech methods in analog settings

Workshop goals:

  1. Understand how User Experience Design and Human-Centered Design can be employed in the museum setting.
  2. Explore the methods and uses specific UXD and HCD tools; and begin to plan for uses of these methods in their jobs.

WORKSHOP 2: How Did That Post Do?

Workshop leader: Jessica Johnson, Social Engagement Producer, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

As the algorithms take away authentic reach and bots are continually being expunged, it may be difficult to find the human in all of the data on social media. The goal of this workshop is to help museum social media professionals make sense of the social media analytics and learn how to tell a story through the numbers.

Social media reporting tools are expensive and while the ability to push a button and produce a report is great, it does not mean you really know what’s going on. This workshop will focus on utilizing the free native platform reporting tools to find and measure social media success. Using the raw data we will construct a narrative for micro and macro-level presentations, ensuring that all stakeholders have accurate and reliable information. We will also explore using Excel and Google Sheets to create pivot tables that aide in filtering data and drill down to exactly what information is needed.

Workshop overview:

Analytics Overview
  • What are Analytics?
  • What are Algorithms?
  • Using numbers to enhance social content
  • Analytics Equations
  • Importance of Looking Beyond the Basics

Platform Specific Overview of Analytics Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Stories
  • Pivot Table Success (Excel and Google Sheets)
  • Report Types and Building the Narrative
  • Building a Quarterly Analytics Report Outline
  • Building Program-Specific Reports
  • How to Conduct Sentiment Analysis

Workshop goals:

  1. Learn how to measure social media on a budget
  2. Learn how to communicate social media metrics with stakeholders

Note to participants:

  • Attendees should bring a laptop and a phone with calculator.
  • The workshop will most benefit Social Media professionals.

WORKSHOP 3: Thinking, Feeling, Doing: Preparing Your GLAM to Create a Human-Centered Digital Experience

Workshop leaders:

  • Joan Horn, Head of Creative Production, Antenna International
  • Alice Walker, Director of Creative Strategy Global Head of Interactive Design, Antenna International
  • Megan Smith, Interpretive Specialist, Smithsonian National Museum of American History
  • Ryan Sim, Education Specialist, National Air and Space Museum

When designing digital experiences, it’s essential to value end users -- people! -- over content and technology. Workshop facilitators will share approaches for keeping humans at the center of the project throughout its lifecycle: at inception, during development, and when it launches to the public.

The workshop will outline a process for planning, content/experience development, testing, iterating, marketing, and launching a human-centered digital experience. Participants will learn how to create a project vision statement and roadmap. They will engage in exercises that they can use in their own institutions, including a workshop activity that engages institutional stakeholders in considering how/what they want visitors to think, feel, and do after the digital experience. Participants will develop a common vocabulary and will discuss best practices in human centered design. 

The presenters--Antenna International, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and National Air and Space Museum--will share real-world strategies they implemented as both museums launched their first multimedia guides. The guides provide audio and multimedia content, including custom interactives and games, in multiple languages, for different types of audience--preschoolers, families, middle school students, and adults.

Workshop participants will leave with the tools to design digital experiences that will delight and engage their audiences.

Workshop overview:

Human centered design 101

  • Incorporating Human-centered Design in GLAMS - Inspiration, Ideation & Implementation
  • NMAH, NASM case study examples - discovery workshops, audience research, prototyping, user testing, Iteration

Creating your roadmap

  • Agreeing to a SOW, defining deliverables
  • Identifying your ideal team (internal staff, external resources)
  • Audience / visitor research
  • Agile / iterative approach

Team Hands-On exercises

  • Identifying what audiences should Feel, Think & Do
  • Creating the project roadmap
  • Evaluation
  • Presentations

Workshop goals:

  1. Insight into human centered design best practices and how they can be applied to serve a variety of audiences (national and international tourists; families; school groups; students; and preschoolers).
  2. Hands-on experience using human centered design techniques for producing GLAM digital experiences

Notes to participants:

  • Attendees are encouraged to bring real-life examples (project briefs, problems, questions) energy and ideas to the workshop.
  • A variety of GLAM staff will benefit from this process, as the creative problem solving principles in human centered design benefits almost any project involving users. However, staff who are preparing to undertake a new digital project or to revamp an existing one (eg. mobile tour, app, website, or other interactive either in-gallery/onsite, or online) will benefit most from this process.

WORKSHOP 4: Creating Chatbots, Alexa Skills, and Other Voice Controlled Apps with Dialogflow and Alexa

Workshop leader: Aaron Miller, Senior Digital Producer, The Franklin Institute

Creating chatbots, Alexa Skills, and other voice-controlled apps can seem daunting. However, with Google's Dialogflow and Amazon's Alexa Skills Kit, you can make your own with little to no programming knowledge. In this workshop, attendees will learn all they need to know, from how to get started to how to publish across multiple platforms, including Alexa, Google Home, Slack, Facebook and more! Attendees will also receive a link to step-by-step instructions they can reference when they return to their institutions. 

Workshop overview:

  • What are virtual assistants and chatbots?
  • How do they work?
  • Demo of The Franklin Institute’s Alexa Skill and chatbot
  • Introduction to Dialogflow
  • What are agents, intents and entities (slots)?
  • Planning and writing your chatbot/app/skill
  • Step-by-step building of an agent
  • Testing
  • Publishing
  • How to export and reformat for Alexa

Workshop goals:

  1. Learn how to create a voice-controlled app and/or chatbot
  2. Learn that, with a little determination, anyone can create professional digital products for their institution with little to no resources or programming knowledge

Notes to participants:

  • Attendees should bring a laptop and have a Google Account (just a Gmail address works).
  • Attendees will be encourage to gather information to use in their apps (although not necessary).
  • This workshop is geared towards anyone who has not made their own voice-controlled app before or want to brush up on the latest version of Dialogflow and Alexa Skills Kit.
  • While no programming experience is necessary, seasoned developers will get just as much out of it as newbies.

WORKSHOP 5: Usability in the Museum: How to Evaluate Digital Interfaces

Workshop leader: Kathi Kaiser, partner, Centralis

Mobile apps and in-gallery interactives offer the promise of engaging visitors in innovative ways, but how do we know if these technologies are actually providing a better visitor experience? Visitors’ enthusiasm for something “new” and “cool” can quickly turn sour if the reality of using it is confusing, frustrating, and a distraction from the exhibit it is meant to enhance. 

While institutions may excel at understanding their visitors’ goals and wants, traditional evaluation methods are not fully suited to identifying and eliminating issues with digital interactions. In this workshop, participants will learn how to conduct in-gallery usability testing. A combination of observation, interviewing and experimentation, this method enables museum professionals to assess the direct interaction that visitors have with technology and offers practical guidance for making digital interactives easier and more rewarding to use.

Workshop overview:

  • Meet Your Brain: Characteristics of Human Cognition
  • Understanding Humans as “Users”
  • Facilitating Usability Sessions
  • Field Trip! (if logistics and time permit)
  • Debrief & Wrap-Up

Workshop goals:

  1. Participants will learn the principles of cognitive psychology that impact how people interact with technology, and its relevance in a museum context
  2. Participants will learn and practice a concrete method for evaluating digital displays in museums

WORKSHOP 6: Sketching in Spaces: Low-Tech Prototyping for High-Tech Projects

Workshop leader: Brett Renfer, Creative Director, Bluecadet

This workshop explores the power of low-tech, experiential rapid prototyping for the concepting and testing phases of museum installation design. At Bluecadet, we use a combination of role-playing exercises and paper prototypes to accelerate the design process, challenge assumptions, and give our designers—and clients—permission to fail. We have crawled on the ground with our clients, walked through museums interacting with paper phones, and have dressed up as river creatures—all in service of finding a product and process that’s fun and functional outside of the constraints of software and hardware development.

Following a case study presentation covering the “what, why, and how” of rapid prototyping, workshop participants will learn how to tackle complex problems themselves. Focused activities will combine bodystorming, role playing, and paper prototyping. Participants will be given a real-world design challenge to practice a compressed version of the processes we employ with our clients. Working in small groups, they will concept, build, and act out an interactive experience—in an hour. We will conclude with “What’s next?”—a discussion of how audience testing can bridge the path from product to prototyping, and how to leave space for iterative prototyping throughout the design process.

Workshop overview:

  • Prototyping as a Process
  • Design Workshop
  • Introduction of design prompt
  • Group brainstorming exercise
  • Bodystorming + paper prototyping exercise
  • Group presentations
  • Reflection and Q + A 

Workshop goals:

  1. Understand why one should prototype early and often, and how to break problems into testable challenges
  2. Learn and try skills and methodologies for prototype-based problem solving, including visual brainstorming and a range of lo-fi physical techniques

WORKSHOP 7: Web Analytics and SEO: Learn the Ropes, Work a Plan, Measure the Right Stuff... Declare Victory!

Workshop leader: Brian Alpert, Web Analytics & SEM Analyst, Smithsonian Institution

Understanding web analytics and search engines hews closely to the notion of employing technology to foster connection, accessibility and inclusion. Measuring websites helps us understand how people use a site, while search engines are a direct link to accessibility - being found. 

Website measurement tools are sophisticated and easy-to-use, but this combination poses challenges. Implementing a data collecting tool must be approached with proper planning and training, especially considering pitfalls such as the ability to pair metrics and dimensions that provide data which looks good, but is in fact wrong! Improving a site's "findability" poses other challenges. Early best practices still apply, yet today's landscape presents newer pitfalls: innocent attempts could result in a penalty, effectively causing the website to disappear. 

Join the Smithsonian's Brian Alpert as he makes Web Analytics and SEO understandable, manageable and actionable. Recognizing that practitioners have little spare time yet need to show measurable results, a common sense analytics process will be introduced. Tool-specific highlights will be oriented toward Google Analytics, and hands-on exercises will familiarize attendees with GA's powerful features. The conversation shifts to SEO, and safe, effective steps to improve findability. Free tools and specialized SEO metrics will also be discussed.

Workshop overview:

Web Analytics / GA (90 mins)

  • Analytics Process
  • GA Basics / Exercises
  • Exercise: Make a segment
  • Exercise: Dashboards
  • New-ish Features
  • Analytics code / GDPR
  • Google Tag Manager
  • Scope - Hit level vs. session level
  • Web Analytics Resources

SEO (90 mins)

  • What does SEO Mean Today?
  • Importance of Personalization
  • SEO and Museums
  • Importance of Local
  • What Influences Google's Algorithm?
  • Old-School Website SEO Still Matters
  • Meta Tags
  • Exercise: write a Title Tag
  • Exercise: write a description tag
  • Keyword Research
  • Relaunching a site
  • New Stuff that Matters
  • Discredited Practices
  • Measuring SEO
  • Structured Data
  • Social Media’s Role
  • SEO Resources

Workshop goals:

  1. Understanding web analytics and SEO concepts and tools, and how to employ them in actionable, measurable ways.
  2. Ability to construct a common-sense, multi-stepped process that articulates goals, strategies, tactics and measurements, brings all these elements together to use data to tell a story.

Notes to participants:

  1. Attendees should bring a laptop with WiFi, connectivity and a Google Analytics account.
  2. Digital practitioners with beginner and intermediate level website and Google Analytics experience will benefit most from this workshop.

WORKSHOP 8: FUNdamentals of game design for the GLAM sector

Workshop leaders:

  • Erica Gangsei, Head of Interpretive Media, SFMOMA
  • Kellian Adams, Mastermind, Green Door Labs

Many museums are interested in “playing around” with game design to engage their audiences, but are concerned about investments of time and budget or just unsure of where to start. A Game Jam--a time-boxed gathering in which game designers, code artists, museum staff and other creatives can develop quick prototypes of games for visitors to play--is a low cost low stakes way for museums to experiment with games.

Back for a second year, this hands-on workshop will model a Game Jam, from start to finish, in a way that participants can take home to their own institutions. Participants will learn best practices of game design, and develop games which can then be playtested by MCN attendees. Participants will have the opportunity to reconvene throughout the conference to share player feedback and iterate on games.

Workshop overview:

  • Best practices in game design overview
  • Explanation of how-to game jam & random assignment of creative constraints
  • Pitch game ideas & break into working groups
  • Develop games
  • Playtest & Critique
  • Iterate

Workshop goals:

  1. Attendees will be able to identify core elements of good game design, and a practical understanding of how to run a game jam at their own institution.
  2. Attendees will be able to place games on a “serious to fun” continuum, and critique instances of games in popular culture and the GLAM sector alike. 

Notes to participants:

  • Program staff at all levels looking to understand more about games as an experiential medium will benefit from this workshop.
  • The Game Jam model is one that can be run at a large or small institution, and can be equally effective no matter what the program budget.
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