Schoolchildren Investigating Mobile User Experiences

On Thursday, November 21, 2013, MS HCI faculty and students from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) ran a collaborative workshop with 5th and 8th grade school students at Allendale Columbia School (ACS) in Pittsford, NY. The goal of our workshops are to create opportunities for school children to experience the interaction design process of cutting edge mobile technologies and services in the tourism and heritage domain. Rather than children being the consumers of mobile technologies, children will have the opportunity to design mobile experiences for heritage storytelling at tourism destinations in the greater Rochester area. We are using technologies funded under the New York State Council on the Art, Mobile Experiences for Tourism Project 2013. We are designing our mobile experiences around the heritage destination of Genesee Country Village & Museum.

Schoolchildren Investigating Mobile User Experiences is the initial collaborative phase between RIT and ACS. This phase consists of  investigation workshops  aimed at providing experiential learning opportunities geared for children as our user-group. Our first investigation workshop included 50 children divided up into two sessions, 1-heritage storytelling and 2-digital souvenirs workshops. School students were asked in the first workshop to investigate how two places at a heritage destination could be related through narratives. The school students were given post-its and told to document all possible characters, settings, themes, plots and scenarios on a post-it. Then the school students were assigned to place any narrative configurations (of post-its) on the front board for an audience of their peers to critique. This allowed the ACS students creative freedom to develop stories they would like to see at GCVM, and permitted the researchers to educate the school students about creating  heritage stories. A heritage story is a cinematic method to deliver digital content through digital agents, while creating continuity from point-of-interest to point-of-interest at a historical site. 

Heritage stories included a mystery story, a heroic story, and a horror story within the nineteenth century living history museum. For example, “The Mystery Story” involves a case of wrongful indictment. The town homeless character is falsely accused of theft. The real culprit is a wealthy land owner. GCVM visitors attempt to prove innocence while learning the moral lesson of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Souvenirs from this narration include mockups of the stolen goods. 

During Spring of 2014, we will be iterating and creating multimedia assets into our system at RIT. School students will have first hand experience designing for location-based mobile technologies to deliver a narrative such as “The Mystery Story“. Our workshop collaborations will work into three phases: Schoolchildren (1-Investigating), (2-Designing), and (3-Evaluating) Mobile User Experiences at heritage locations in the greater Rochester area.

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