Life Science Museum Coordinates Educational Outreach Shows with GQueues and Google Apps
The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum is located at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah. It opened to the public in 1978 and offers free admission to over 100,000 annual visitors to explore its 2 million insects, plants, reptiles, fish and birds. The museum is known for live animal shows with snakes, lizards and other creatures native to the Utah area. Fourteen student educators give shows to audiences on campus, in surrounding schools and in private residences. In 2012, the museum closed to build 25 new exhibits and reopened in June 2014.
Scheduling Shows with Student Educators
In 2012, the Bean Life Science Museum switched to Google Apps after their Microsoft Outlook server crashed, which left their staff unable to access critical information for over a month. After switching to the cloud, Katy Knight, Museum Education Administrator, searched for task management software that integrated with Google. She discovered GQueues and after reading product reviews, she began testing it for her own work.
Around the same time, the museum began exhibit renovations. The construction was extensive and the department Director needed a way to track all of the tasks. When a full-time construction manager joined the team, Knight introduced GQueues as an effective way to manage the project.
Knight saw how well GQueues worked for the exhibits department and thought it could also help her students manage their tasks. Coordinating live animal shows in off-campus venues was a challenge for Knight, since students were still learning to manage multiple schedules and would sometimes miss events entirely. Knight thought GQueues would be an ideal solution since it integrated with Google Apps and was simple for both staff and students to learn. She purchased a subscription so her whole team could use it.
Finding a More Reliable Way to Work
Since Knight began using GQueues with her outreach team, it has helped the museum provide higher quality shows for the public. Knight's assistant Brittany Nuttall uses GQueues' Google Calendar integration to set up tasks in advance with corresponding deadlines, which then automatically sends text message reminders to students at the appropriate time. This helps students review their tasks to prepare for upcoming shows and wake up for early morning meetings. It also saves time for Knight since she doesn't have to send individual reminder emails which students aren't likely to read anyway. "The system we have runs so smoothly that we don't have to worry about every little show that comes up. We know students will be reminded of their events, which reduces stress," Knight commented.
GQueues integration with Google Apps has made it easy for the team to adopt. Students use Google Calendar to look at their events, so being able to receive Calendar reminders through GQueues saves them time and keeps everyone on track. "It's so easy for them, so they really like it," Nuttall mentioned.
Museum Education Administrator
Another feature the team loves is GQueues' Google Drive integration. "We use our Google Calendar a lot, but we also use Google Drive so students can work on a project remotely or collaborate together," Nuttall said. With Drive, she can attach documents to student tasks, keeping everything in one place and preventing work from falling through the cracks. For example, she created a Google Doc with login information and hash tags that students reference from their tasks when posting to the museum's Facebook page. Nuttall also has a Google Sheet attached to a new student training checklist so new educators have everything they need to get started.
GQueues' tagging feature has also helped staff to more easily organize and complete tasks on time. Nuttall creates a task for each show, and tags the task based on action items that need to be taken, such as send an invoice or confirmation email and assign a student to the show. "As each item is completed, I can remove the tag and sort everything much more easily than glancing through the giant list of tasks," Nuttall mentioned.
A number of students and staff educators also have the GQueues mobile app on their phone, which allows them to stay updated and prepare for tasks from anywhere. This feature is particularly useful for students who are frequently on their phone, more so than their laptops.
Delivering Outreach Events More Effectively
A greater visibility of tasks has made collaboration easier and reduced stress in the museum's outreach team. Knight said, "Students and staff are not so worried about what they have to remember since they can always just go check their queues." Most importantly, students know when to show up for events and meetings, which helps them arrive on time and meet their commitments.
With GQueues' Google Calendar and Drive integration, students can see their tasks and relevant documents all together. The system has become students' preferred way of working. Knight mentioned, "Whenever we train students on GQueues, there's a positive reaction. They like having everything they need to remember in one place."
Additionally, GQueues' organizational features help to reduce stress for Knight and Nuttall. "Fewer things fall through the cracks. That was my biggest concern," Knight said. With GQueues' Google Apps integration, students and staff can also work remotely, which holds everyone more accountable for their work.
Overall, GQueues has helped the Bean Life Science Museum collaborate effectively across different schedules, levels of experience and communication styles. As Knight concluded, "GQueues is an intuitive tool that improves everyone's productivity."