Paper No. 244-12
Presentation Time: 4:45 PM
SMART DEVICE INTERPRETATION AT FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT: ENGAGING VISITORS ACROSS MULTIPLE LEVELS OF UNDERSTANDING AND INTEREST
Smart phone applications that engage visitors with outdoor interpretation at geology-oriented National Park Service units can help address one of the weaknesses of static outdoor interpretive panels that traditionally serve a “one size fits all” approach for engaging visitors with complex geologic settings. Northern Arizona University and Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument developed a potential national model of multi-level visitor interpretation called Florissant Explorer, an app delivered on the iOS platform. We focused our research on enhancing the visitor experience at eight existing interpretive panels installed along the Monument’s new Geologic Trail. The team developed a content stream and instructive narrative targeting visitors with a presumed General Geology course background, then used these scripts to derive related presentations appropriate for the Monument’s Junior Ranger audience and also for a non-scientist, adult audience. The team produced 24 short videos designed to engage visitors at various levels of understanding and programmed the application to deliver them at appropriate locations and time durations. While the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions prevented a more rigorous planned evaluation program, as an interim measure this app was distributed to a group of park volunteers who self-selected their level of interest as either Geologist, Explorer (non-scientist adult), or Junior Ranger, and then used the app on a self-guided tour of the trail. Among the volunteers were professional geologists and geology students, adults with no scientific training, and parents who interpreted their children’s use and responses to the application for the team. Assessment of this biased group’s responses, recorded on a paper-based evaluation, suggests the app would be an “engaging” and “useful” addition to the Monument’s interpretive programs. Additional evaluation is planned through Winter 2021, as well as detailed publication of the project approach and findings.