Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2014
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9/11 Museum Audio Guide

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Thoughtful, expansive tours personalize sobering museum experience

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Character & SEL

Subjects
  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Exceptional acccessibility features and thoughtfully designed tours make the museum accessible and approachable to a wide range of visitors.

Cons: The built-in site map is surprisingly tough to navigate.

Bottom Line: An excellent digital extension of a thoughtfully designed museum.

School groups visiting the museum might have kids install the app prior to their visit and then have kids use the guide (especially Discovering History) during their visit. Teachers might also use the app to take kids on a virtual tour of the museum, and they might ask kids to reflect on their own impressions of the events of September 11.

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The 9/11 Museum Audio Guide is a mobile device companion for visitors to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center in New York City. The guide features three narrative audio guides for navigating the museum's exhibits: Witnessing History (for adults, narrated by actor Robert DeNiro), Discovering History (for kids and families, narrated by a child), and Building History (for visitors focused on architecture and archeology). The app also features tours that offer more detailed guidance for visitors who are hearing impaired (through an American Sign Language tour) and visually impaired (through a detailed audio guide of the entire exhibit space). Users can navigate the recordings in order or choose recordings from their spots on the built-in map of the exhibit space. Text and audio are available in five languages, and each guide includes both recordings and transcripts.

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The section for kids and families (Discovering History) is narrated by Clara Neubauer, a young woman who was born on September 11, 2001. She offers a kid-appropriate, kid-focused tour that introduces young visitors to the museum-going experience in general and this museum's exhibits in particular. It's a great introduction to what might be some kids' first museum experience, and it's a kid-focused, kid-appropriate introduction that's both powerful and approachable. Each tour's content is similarly detailed, sensitive, and thoughtful, and it's especially empowering that users can pick the tour that best suits their interests and needs.

The one major area for improvement might be the built-in site map. While it's nice to be able to jump immediately to a new audio feature directly from the map, it's a little hard to see the full site overview from the map, and it's surprisingly difficult to scroll and zoom on the map. Additionally, users might be surprised to discover the iTunes App Store lists this app as appropriate for users ages 17 and older; this is puzzling, since the Discovering History section is explicitly geared toward children ages 8 and up. Overall, this app's simple design and extensive audio make it a great companion for visiting the museum in person or experiencing it from afar.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

With five tours to choose from, users can customize their experience and gain further insights on the exhibits around them.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

With several focused tours for different audiences with different goals, users can learn at their own pace and pick their own learning objectives. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Stellar accessibility features make this a great support for visitors of all ages and abilities.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Dee W. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Brings the memorial to life!

The tours are beautifully narrated and the tone of the narrators (including Robert DeNiro) truly adds to the solemnity of the site. I believe this helped immensely with the students' understanding of the weight of what happened there. It would be great to expand this as an interactive learning tool that could be brought into the classroom...but it did REALLY enhance the visit of the museum and helped bring it to life for the students. Many would not have stopped at the exhibits to read or ponder, however, they did stop and absorb while listening. Many students returned to the main concourse to repeat parts of their chosen tour or to take a different path. Each tour offers different information and perspective (some parts are redundant but many are different) Personally, it has also helped me to relive the experience of the visit. Overall, I highly recommend this app if visiting the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and would probably also use it in the classroom without visiting, but would want other content material to go with it.

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