Schoolchildren Producing Mobile Visitor Experiences

On April 10th 2014, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) faculty and students, with a history specialist from Genesee Country Village & Museum (GCVM) met at Allendale Columbia School (ACS) to teach augmented reality production skills to schoolchildren. The goal of this workshop was to have schoolchildren produce their Heritage Stories they wrote from the previous workshop “Schoolchildren Design Mobile Visitor Experiences“.

Schoolchildren were directed by RIT students from the School of Photography Arts and Sciences (SPAS). Film directors and photographers from SPAS recorded each schoolchild in front of a green screen so they could act out their individual role in each Heritage Story. For example, a child dressed as a blacksmith or a school teacher.  GCVM provided 19th century clothing, so the schoolchildren would be contextually and aesthetically appropriate when we geo-locate their videos in our next workshop. RIT Interaction Design students and Allendale Columbia School faculty prepped and couched the schoolchildren before and during each augmented reality video shoot. This workshop gave schoolchildren hands on experiences in the augmented realty production process.

In our next workshop, RIT and ACS students will process and geo-locate each individual video to curate physical locations with their Heritage Stories.

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Evaluating NYSCA Mobile Experiences for Tourism Project

In early December of 2013, seventeen fifth-grade school students from Allendale Columbia School were invited to experience the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), Mobile Experiences for Tourism Project mobile prototype. Each student was between the ages of 10-11 years old and had been to Genesee Country Village & Museum  in the past. Before the evaluation the 17 students were selected to be in groups averaging 2-3 students. Before the evaluation students were given a brief UI tutorial. During the evaluation, researchers shadowed the student groups. After the evaluation a short survey followed by a short interview was given.

The survey contained 27 questions with a Likert scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” based on our design strategy. We presented statements relating to the heritage story, digital characters and user interfaces navigation. Our goal was to assess the school student’s enjoyment and if our interaction design strategy and decisions were substantiated.

Our evaluation shows that our strategy, not only aided our researchers to think hard about the careful transitions between digital and physical space, but also gave us an opportunity uncover new methods of mobile heritage storytelling in the process. After the evaluation, the school students were very eager for more heritage storytelling. School students thought that:

  1.  the heritage story was fun and engaging (100%),
  2. they could easily navigate pioneer settlement with the information provided in the story (82%),
  3. they felt the digital characters added mystery and made the entire field trip more interesting compared to a normal GCVM tour guide (88%) and,
  4. they would be interested in repeat visits if the mobile application gave seasonal narrations during the year (94%).

Our evaluation also provided areas for design improvement. School students were mainly natural when taking the time to explore the individual locations e.g. Blacksmith Shop. The majority of students spent too much time looking at the mobile device while moving from location to location. These areas of improvement will help shape the next design iterations as we evaluate our strategy and heritage stories at GCVM.

Future Work
The results showed that school students would like to create their own heritage story (88%). We are collaborating with Allendale Columbia School students to deploy their own heritage stories at GCVM spring 2014. We have conducted workshops to investigate, design and evaluate mobile experiences for heritage storytelling. We will continue to evaluate the mobile prototype to inform our mobile user experience design decisions.

 Special Thanks to the students and faculty of Allendale Columbia for participating in the evaluation, and as always, thank you Genesee Country Village and Museum and Edinburgh Napier University.