Future Present: Mediation in a Time of Urgency


Friday, April 30, 2021: 2:30pm - 3:30pm - - Professional Forum

Caroline White, Science Gallery Detroit, United States, Allyssa Harris, Science Gallery Detroit, USA

When it is no longer safe to facilitate in-person learning experiences, how do you retain your education staff? In this virtual panel discussion, Science Gallery Detroit mediators will reflect on the experience of using remotely-controlled telepresence robots to engage with visitors in the gallery space during the pandemic.

Typically found working on the floor of the gallery, mediators are a team of young adults (often ages 18-25) that are passionate about the intersections of science and art. They are responsible for sparking conversations with visitors around the themes and ideas explored in the exhibition, but their role as a mediator is also intended to be a learning experience. The conversations mediators have with visitors are essential, not only to the experience of the exhibition, but to the mediators’ professional and personal development. Faced with the challenges of a global pandemic, how could we design an exhibition experience that would maintain the learning that happens through synchronous conversations in the gallery, while keeping mediators and visitors as safe as possible?

Participants will learn about the challenges and opportunities of using robots as a tool for creating social connection between remote and in-person audiences, how technologies can be leveraged to maintain staff roles during challenging times, and discover ways that creating a shared, participatory practice around digital storytelling and content production can lead to enhanced online engagement.

Enros, K. & Bandelli, A. (2018). ‘Beyond self-confidence: a participatory evaluation of personal change in Science Gallery’s Mediators’. JCOM 17 (03), N01. https://doi.org/10.22323/2.17030801

Gleason, B., & Greenhow, C. (2017). Hybrid learning in higher education: The potential of teaching and learning with robot-mediated communication. Online Learning [formerly Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN)].