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Re-learning Bradford (The Amicitias Venture)

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  1. Re-learning Bradford(The Amicitias Project) David Robison (

  2. AMICITIAS Ambient Intelligence as a Compelling Instructional Tool for Interlinguistic and Intercultural Skills

  3. Project Background • A Mobile-based language learning and cultural exploration game • Funded by the EU as part of the Education and Culture programme • Castilla La Mancha University and various European partners • Based in Barcelona, Toledo, Sardinia, Sicily, Galway and Bradford • Bradford team’s focus was technical production, game-design, visual and narrative design and on-location aspects

  4. Educational goals • Improve linguistic, and cultural knowledge about several European, multicultural places. Majority and Minority language addressed for each location – e.g. in the Galway game, you learn English and some Irish Gaelic • Users should acquire skills necessary to accomplish specific ‘game’ tasks, both within the mobile application and also whilst exploring various culturally, geographically and historically interesting places within the cities • The project integrates language learning into playing and discovering, using the mobile game as a part of this context-specific process

  5. Mobile learning • The potential of mobile gaming for learning is extensively documented (if not always critically) • Another anecdote – learning to play chess on the train • Each learning experience is context specific • Disruptive and distracting from‘traditional learning’ (potentially) hence evangelism is not always advised

  6. Overlapping concerns

  7. The benefits • Ryan (2007) argues that learners benefit from mobile learning in two forms: mobile learning as a form of performance support and mobile learning as communication that creates knowledge. • The performance support provides learners with functions (text editing, visual material, and audio aids) in the context of their work. • Learners also stay connected with the knowledge source, expertise, professional communities, and learning management anywhere and any time to facilitate retrieving and exchanging the knowledge of their work.

  8. A Player Scenario • Player: Maria – 15, from Spain, is already studying English and wishes to visit culturally and historically interesting places in England • Arriving in Bradford on her travels, she visits Saltaire, where she is enlisted to help Titus Salt find his missing llamas!

  9. From the virtual to environmental context • EU/NSF report emphasises relationship between the user, the information space and the data being analysed [1] • From a developer’s point of view, as HCI emigrates from the desktop, the human environment (social and spatial context) increasingly needs to be considered • Good design across real and virtual space is not easy to achieve because multiple channels are being used and there is huge complexity in behavioural and cognitive aspects of “the human”

  10. Bradford Doubled

  11. Location ‘loop’

  12. Version 2...

  13. Version 3...

  14. Game – player, device, narrative and location • The main ‘framing device’ is a narrative that 'takes in' the actual location in which the user is standing and also contains the elements taking place “within” the mobile device • The ‘ambient’ linguistic experienceis supplemented with language mini-games which can be played in an arcade or puzzle style on the device, whilst the user is taking a break for a cup of tea or a sit-down on a bench in a museum • Sound-controls need to be implemented in this scenario, and the use of headphones encouraged in certain areas (social etiquette – rules are re-negotiated) • The elevated status of the actual location is what makes this different from a traditional hand-held game (remember the Far Side cartoon of young boy playing a Gameboy next to the rim of the Grand Canyon?)

  15. Initial focus group methods and findings • “Too much reading for the screen” • Disinterest at first, moving to ‘addiction’ • More attractive to younger children than we had intended • Be careful of busy roads • Unintended learning outcomes (such as looking up answers in a book with the help of a passerby) • Very effective at cultural aspects – language learning aspects still need work • Acknowledge differing levels of mobility

  16. Connection problems • 24/7, always on, anywhere anytime, instantaneous (no it’s NOT) • In reality data services when travelling abroad can be prohibitively expensive (this is likely to change – recent regulation and better roaming agreements) • In some rural contexts they are either not available at all or very slow, in urban contexts certain usages are inappropriate • This can create major problems for location-based applications that that rely on functioning networks • Brings its own problems and challenges • Advantages of a ‘self-contained’ application, to allow autonomous ‘site-specific’ interaction

  17. A game “engine” • Re-usable code • “Insert text, graphics and audio here...” • Narrative and learning model can be altered and expanded based on location ‘types’ and inserted content • Engine that can auto-generate versions of the game for different capacity mobiles • Happy to discuss future collaborations that can make use of this engine

  18. Project conclusions • An overall ‘theory’ of mobile learning cannot be static because of the rapid pace of change and the variety of possible meanings (doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try) • New and emerging projects are likely to take greater advantage of the networked aspects of mobile device to produce interactive play between players in real time • Combining other learning objectives with language learning can be highly effective here (Fotouhi, 2009) • Limitations of interface remain • Dangers remain – in a word – “technocentrism” • Similarly, failure to identify the unique properties of the medium • Player context is the most significant aspect of location-based m-learning as compared to ‘desk-bound’ e-learning

  19. Other visions

  20. Ways of looking at Bradford? • Westfield • Odeon • NMM • City of Film • Pond in the bowl • Keen to do something moresubversive or distuptive

  21. Geo-cacheing • Using multi-million pound satellite technology to find Tupperware in the woods? • Cache in trash out • Mapped to transport routes • Dynamic public service data gathering • As with many other art/media forms, mobile applications transformative potential depends on the quality of narrative or ‘experience’.

  22. References • Brown J R, van Dam A, Earnshaw R A, Encarnacao J L, Guedj R A, Preece J, Shneiderman B, Vince J A, (1999) "Human-Centered Computing, Online Communities and Virtual Environments", IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, Vol 19, No 6, Nov/Dec, pp 70-74, ISSN 0272-1716. • Williams, Raymond. 1974. Television: Technology and Cultural Form. London: Fontana. • Singhal S and Zyda M (1999) “Networked Virtual Environments: Design and Implementation”, ACM Press • Blake, William (1794) The School Boy • Ryan, L. (2007) Advantages and disadvantages of mobile learning [online]. Available from:[Accessed 12th April 2009]. • Fotouhi-Ghazvini F, Robison D, Earnshaw R A, Excell P S, “The MOBO City: A Mobile Game Package for Technical Language Learning”, International Journal of Mobile Technologies, Jan 2009

  23. David Robison ( (