Here we share feedback and advice from museums/heritage sites which participated in My heart’s in the Highlands 2014.
Make sure lines of communication with participants stay open throughout the project
Look out for changes of staff at isolated sites, the replacement will need support to get up to speed
If someone does not attend a workshop who was expected, follow up to check they are OK and make sure they know they were missed
Many MHITH participants work in small organisations in geographically isolated locations
Refunded travel costs made a huge difference, especially to participants from smaller sites
Some participants had never taken part in collaborative projects before and needed one-to-one encouragement to come
Many MHITH participants already used social media but the training offered helped them to get better at it
Facebook was the most popular social media tool used during MHITH, with the project Facebook page sharing participant posts
Those new to social media found out that it can be fun and quicker than many traditional forms of promotion such as posters etc
Our pilot app was commissioned too late for a spring launch: six months minimum is needed to create an app on this scale.
Our MHITH app budget was not enough to cover both IPhone/IPad and Android development – double-check your costs and allow for inflation/contigency
Apps work in an area with poor connectivity to the internet as the core data is already downloaded to the appliance – easy to update content when next connected so ideal for visitors on the move
Many app participants had negative preconceptions and were concerned that it would be complicated to upload data and to use
Some app participants acquired new appliances specifically to showcase the app
Be aware of (and cost) the need for support and patience as participants will learn about new technologies at different paces
Don’t make assumptions about the ideal location of workshops – on the whole our participants preferred a central location to dispersed training for smaller numbers, a surprise
Make sure your speakers are lively and motivational, and intersperse powerpoint presentations with more interactive activities
Allow participants to become speakers and share their experiences as the project unfolds and confidence grows
We had one grant of £250 available for any MHITH event, seen as a lot of money particularly at volunteer-run sites
A small pot of money allows people to change established event patterns and try something new and more adventurous
In future, a slightly increased amount of money would lead to even greater event creativity and could be tied into improved connectivity between participants
Participants rated more highly the networking and contacts made during the project than any other element of the project
The project mentoring process showed benefits for both the mentee and the mentor.
Larger sites commented that networking with smaller sites gave them fresh ideas and increased the scope for future partnership.
THINK EVEN BIGGER!
The app and the social media continue to attract huge interest without an ongoing budget to support them: an app development project would best run over three years, not one – pilot and refine it then make it sustainable.
LONGER DEVELOPMENT TIMESCALE!
We would look to start a project of this kind in September for an Easter launch, allowing six months minimum for app development
CONSIDER COMMERCIAL PARTNERS!
We would seek additional appropriate commercial partners for the app development, including a local ‘eat’ section which could provide a small ongoing income stream