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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New Project Announcement – Schoolchildren Designing Mobile Visitor Experiences at Heritage Destinations

Schoolchildren Designing Mobile Visitor Experiences at Heritage Destinations is a collaborative mobile user experience design project between Allendale Columbia SchoolGenesee Country Village & Museum and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The goal of this project is to give schoolchildren the oppertunity to be designers of mobile technologies instead of consumers of mobile technologies.

RIT students and faculty from the Human Computer Interaction Program and Collage of Imaging, Arts and Sciences Department are  teaching basic Interaction Design and multimedia asset production principles to fifth and eighth grade students. Allendale Columbia School is leading learning objectives and outcomes, while Genesee Country Village and Museum provides ninetieth century curation education. The format of the project is in four distinct collaborative workshop stages:

  1. Collaboration – Ideation Phase, Heritage Storytelling, Design Strategy
  2. Design – User Center Design, Geo/Location-Based Interaction Design
  3. Multimedia Production – Asset Creation, Video, Audio, Photo, Scripting/Creative Writing
  4. Evaluation – Mobile Usability Testing, Public Schoolchildren Feedback

The mobile user experiences designed by the schoolchildren of Allendale Columbia School, will be evaluated by other schoolchildren participating in annual field trip events to Genesee Country Village and Museum in late spring 2014.

This project leverages the mobile technologies designed and developed under a 2013 New York Council on the Arts Grant, Mobile Experiences for Tourism Project.

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.

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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Arts, Acting, History and Augmented Reality Shooting

The Mobile Experiences for Tourism Project has been working closely with nineteenth century period actors and actresses (otherwise known as interpreters) to create augmented reality content to supplement educational lessons at Genesee Country Village & Museum (GCVM). RIT students and faculty from Human Computer Interaction, Computer Science and Imaging Arts & Sciences have created a historically accurate digital narrative that enables visitors to move through GCVM via mobile devices.

The Mystery of the Missing Child” is our first digital narrative about a girl (Alice) whose younger brother (Jamie) has been missing for several days. Alice requests the aid of the visitor(s) to help her family find her younger brother. With a series of nineteenth century augmented characters, the visitor explores the Pioneer Settlement while learning 19th century, childhood responsibilities (child labor), building materials (blacksmith trade), cultural norms (teachers were harsh), education standards (girls were typically not required to go to school), medical treatments (onions can be used to treat burns) and being bullied as a child is not a new phenomenon. When the visitor concludes the experience, the visitor is presented with a digital representation of their visit and learns the fate of the protagonist.

Levasseur Photography, a small business from recently graduated RIT students, have been doing excellent work creating multimedia videos for augmented reality content. With their artistic direction, we have spent two days at GCVM video shooting actors and actresses recreating historical facts and stories. We had the unique pleasure to create in the Davis Hall, the opera house built in 1884, into an augmented reality green screen studio theatre. With six augmented reality nineteenth century actors and actresses we plan to have our first full feature prototype evaluation starting August 6, 2013. Come on out to GCVM between August 6th–10th to experience our prototype first hand.

Press Release: RIT enhances the tourism experience with mobile innovations

Faculty and students at Rochester Institute of Technology are using mobile technologies to engage visitors of historical destinations in the Greater Rochester area. The mobile design strategy, called Brick City Tours, personalizes the tourism experience using digital storytelling, cultural heritage and interactive arts, such as augmented reality.

New ReleaseRIT is collaborating with VisitRochester, Greater Rochester’s official tourism promotion agency, to design mobile experiences that personalize and capture tourists’ visits at the Genesee Country Village and Museum. The technology is also designed to scale to many of VisitRochester’s other top destinations. The Mobile Experiences for Tourism Project is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Funding for the project comes from a $52,958 award from the 2012 Regional Economic Development Council Awards and a matching $52,958 contribution from RIT and VisitRochester.

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Presented at the Blended Interactions Workshop at CHI 2013, Paris, France

Researchers from Rochester Institute of Technology and Edinburgh Napier University collaborate to create “A Blended Space for Tourism at the Genesee Country Village & Museum”. Brian O’Keefe from RIT presented at the Blend13 CHI 2013 Workshop in Paris, France. The workshop brought international researchers together to envision the impact of Blended Theory could have on the future of collaborative environments.

Presentation: A Blended Space for Tourism: Genesee Country Village & Museum
Brian Presenting “A Blended Space for Tourism: Genesee Country Village & Museum”

Our presentation discussed the concept of a blended space and used it to explore the design of a visitor experience in a nineteenth century living history village and museum in western New York. Blended spaces aim to produce a more harmonized user experience (UX) of a place, by considering the correspondences between physical and digital spaces and by considering the movement through these spaces. Our research paper was ranked amongst the top papers in the workshop.

Brian introducing Digital Agents at Genesee Country Village and Museum

Brian introducing Digital Agents at Genesee Country Village and Museum