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This Is Our Playground - MW2013

This Is Our Playground - MW2013



On the 25th April 2012 the University of Ulster hosted a hack day in the Ulster Museum for students on the Interactive Media Arts BA (hons) and Museum Studies MA, this event saw students develop ...

On the 25th April 2012 the University of Ulster hosted a hack day in the Ulster Museum for students on the Interactive Media Arts BA (hons) and Museum Studies MA, this event saw students develop innovative interactive experiences within the context of a traditional museum setting. Students worked in teams with mentors to develop playful ludic interactions which worked with (and sometimes against) the museum's collections and displays.

The interactive experiences that students developed are designed to question the notion of play in the museum, recontextualising the collections and gallery spaces to create new modes for the public to investigate and interrogate the spaces of the museum as an institution and develop new dialogues with the exhibits.

These ‘experiences’ act as a tangible example of how time constrained prototyping can facilitate innovative responses to museum collections and presents a case for museums to develop and implement interactive experiences in a faster and more efficient manner. The Hack Day marked the culmination of ‘This is our Playground’ a semester long collaborative research project which explored interdisciplinary teaching and practice, through a series of workshops on digital literacy and designing for the cultural sector. As a result of this project National Museums Northern Ireland has begun to explore new ways to engage with students, and is in the process of developing an interactive media project that will build on the outcomes produced during the Hack Day.

This research was presented at the Museums and the Web conference in Portland, Oregon. The full paper can be found online http://mw2013.museumsandtheweb.com/paper/this-is-our-playground-recognising-the-value-of-students-as-innovators/



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  • OONAGHWhat We Did – a running order for the eventIntro by Alan on Play and Game Mechanics with icebreakersIntro by Oonagh on Experience DesignBroke into groupsTour of the MuseumBrainstorming IdeasDevelopment in museumDevelopment in universityPresentation of prototypes
  • OONAGHWhat We Did – why these two coursesMuseums Studies: Traditional, Vocational, Reflective, ConservativeInteractive Media Arts: Contemporary, Semi-STEM, Critical, Theory Informed Practice, Experimental
  • OONAGHOonagh taught on both courses, modules in Designing for Interactivity with a focus on design for audiences and contexts (iMA) and Cultures of Curatorship (museums)Discussed event with students, created FB page, Booked a room, website built, ran the event, helped to archive projects, presented projects to Ulster Museum
  • OONAGHIt is important to foster creative responses which speak to a range of audiences, these new forms of engaging visitors should be playful, experimental and interactive
  • OONAGHMuseums speaking with the audiences they are targeting. Convergence Culture, remix,
  • OONAGHThe event asked the students to think of new ways to engage the museums audiences drawing on the experiences of the Museum Studies students and asking them to try and think differently about the traditional spaces, they were confronted by the Interactive Media Arts students who as a whole do not visit these spaces and largely their cultural consumption happens through the interwebz
  • ALANIt is becoming increasingly important for university courses to think about the expanded “live” brief for students, giving their design and production work a context and real world application. The open of the briefs and situating them outside of the University is a way for students to think about their practice, not as something contained in a course, module or program but something that they work with and through.
  • ALANIt is important to consider group based learning both within and outside the classroom, this helps to develop soft skills which are highly regarded as “employability” skills. It is also important in these informal learning spaces outside of the workshops and lecture theatres for students to be working with academic staff on innovative content, not to see them as “teacher” but as a practisioner and mentor without all of the answers
  • ALANEmployability skills for the media and design sector, different forms of module delivery, thinking about industry facing projects and supporting the creative industries
  • ALANIn a range of studies it has been shown that when students are producing work which is seen to be “public facing” that the are more focused, produce work to a higher standard and engage more directly with a design brief.
  • ALANWorking in new ways, experiencing new working groups. Often students are left to develop new work within the course, only collaborating with their piers from their cohort. It is important for students to experience working with other sectors and demographics, it helps to develop the ability to explain specific subject knowledge to students and workers from other sectors.
  • ALANOften a criticism of university courses is long development cycles with extended timelines. Semesters run in 12 week blocks and students are often working on 3 projects in a semester, employers have expressed that it is important for students to understand that projects for the large part, don’t have the luxury of a 12 week timeline.
  • ALANIt was important for students to work in a low risk way, developing fast projects without the risk of failure which is often crippling for their creativity and work flow.
  • OONAGHThe event as a piece of action research both for Alan and towards Oonaghs PhD, institutional incentives for co-publication
  • ALANInterdepartmental research is important to foster innovation and change, it’s become increasingly important for research staff and PhD candidates to bridge or straddle departments. This approach is to debase the siloed departmental structure of the HE institution. There is an emphasis on supervisor/PhD co-publication
  • ALANThe event sits as a piece inside a “body of work” for the REF, a piece of action research which combines with the 4Sq Major Chair and a symposium in May held in Belfast
  • ALANTraining the new digital producers from both courses
  • ALANPartners not commissionersMuseums as a creative hubCreativity facilitatorsLearning partnersTalking with, not at, young designersLearning and developing by doingNot something to advocate commercially but good for young practisioners thinking about developing experimental content
  • ALAN
  • ALAN

This Is Our Playground - MW2013 This Is Our Playground - MW2013 Presentation Transcript