Explainers often mentioned Internet access as a desired requirement for the mobile devices, but switching between networks while roaming the floor was a barrier to its use. PDAs would not automatically switch networks as Explainers moved around the museum, forcing them to stop and manually change the settings to stay online. Many Explainers stopped using the technology once the novelty wore off, or when it became too frustrating to use multiple networks.
- Explainers found novel ways to use the handheld in their work, including helping student visitors find answers to questions on worksheets by using the handheld to access an online search engine. The Wi-Fi handheld was also used during floor demonstrations to supplement knowledge about a subject and help visitors understand and engage in the science they were exploring at the dissection, for example.
- Explainers used handhelds individually to try out the suggested activities from the handheld with exhibits. They also used the handhelds in groups where each individual had one, and passed their handhelds around to show each other what they’d learned.
- Explainers sometimes found the PDA so engaging that it became distracting, taking them out of their role as facilitators of visitor interactions with exhibits. Many Explainers used the handheld only when visitors were not present or walked away.
- Explainers critiqued the handheld as a specialized exhibit content delivery tool and preferred applications that supported peer-to-peer communication found in the Q & A tool. Explainers were already learning about exhibits through their weekly training and from signage on the floor. They didn’t see the utility of using a handheld to deliver produced media, but viewed it as a tool for other functions.
- Explainers also used the PDAs for nonwork-related use including games, checking e-mail, surfing the Internet, and recording their voices.