Sense of Place – part three

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I started using QR Codes in 2010 – firstly to see if I could add any value to advertising. I then became more interested in education and developing the ‘game’ element (of what were essentially digital treasure hunts) to engage children in learning activities.

Conveniently, in the middle of this diversion from advertising in education I was asked to create a trail for an eTouirsm PhD Summer School at the School of Computer Science at St Andrews University. One of the lecturers had been watching the NEoN Knights QR Game unfold on Twitter and got in touch.

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His brief was for my trail to achieve two things: 1) An example, on day one, of technology enabling tourism that would prompt discussion and encourage the students to design their own ‘products’ throughout the remainder of the week. 2) An ice breaker, an introduction for the students (most of whom would be travelling from across Scotland) to St Andrews and to each other.

The aim of the eTourism trail, from my perspective, was a combination of both advertising and education. For a city like St Andrews those tow things are inseparable because the majority of the tourism is heritage and history.

St Andrews Space Hop

It was also an opportunity to engage with a Twitter/Social Media active community of independent traders across St Andrews who would value the interaction with tourism in a technological way and boast about it through their online channels.

The combination of these three opportunities has prepared me with the experience to create at least two other trails (though their have been more) that both educate and entertain:

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Dighty Water – A vital stretch of water in Dundee’s history; rich with stories that have been gathered and tagged to QR Codes that will be dotted along portions of the walkway that follows the water.

And now:

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Sense of Place (SoP): The McManus, Dundee

The McManus has a fantastic permanent collection, curated under the title of The Making of Modern Dundee (MoMD). This collection is situated down stairs at The McManus includes remnants of the original Tay Bridge that collapsed in 1879, through to video games from the 1980s created in the city. Many of the objects in this collection inspired work created for Sense of Place. Without moving them, we wanted to acknowledge them as part of our exhibition. QR Codes were the simple solution.

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Throughout the SoP exhibition programme visitors will find QR Codes alongside project descriptions. These codes deliver additional content and help visitors understand the connection to MoMD – you may even find a sample hide here…

However, should you wander into MoMD knowing nothing about SoP there are QR Codes on the display cases that point you to the relevant work in our exhibition.

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For me, it is the richest combination of physical and digital artefacts that I have worked on and another accomplishment in the image of the model I established with my Masters ‘Mystery Boxes’ project during 2011.

As if this wasn’t enough, the content behind some of the QR Codes are pieces of work that could constitute an exhibition for themselves. Trips across the Tay Bridge replicating a journey made, captured and shared over 100 years ago. Besides that you can share in the tour of MoMD that we made as a group with Brian Cox and hear him recounting memories of growing up an living in 1950s Dundee.

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The thread through all of this is a desire to preserve memories, stories and experiences. While this feels very new, because the technology is so ubiquitous in 2013, we learned that our capturing and sharing activity is no different, in practice, to that of 1897. More people have access to the tools but the majority of them are filming the mundane processes of daily life as the pioneering filmmakers of the late 19th Century had. Train journeys. People at work. Children at school.

So, I am very grateful to ‘Sense of Place’. As I’ve said before, working with the young people was rewarding/entertaining enough. But in addition to that, together we’ve worked on projects that we will talk about for the rest of our lives – Tay Bridge journey, SmallPetitKlein, Brian Cox, the BIG Print, and so on… Finally, the fact that we’ve had the opportunity to bring it all together for the exhibition is the icing on the cake. But not just any old icing. Elaborate, swirly, multicoloured icing with adornments of sweet decorations covering a beautifully hand-made cake. That’s what it’s like.

Go along. Have a look. Let me know what you think.

Thanks :)

Find out more about:

NEoN Knights (Digital Arts Festival) – St Andrews Space Hop (St Andrews Uni PhD Summer School) – Balmullo Primary School (Permanent Heritage Trail)
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Getting QReative with World Book Day – part two

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So, on Monday I posted about some book reviews I recorded at my local primary school.

I took them home, edited them where necessary (not as much as you might think) and posted them to AudioBoo – today some of those codes (the ones posted here) are in the books that they relate to.

The purpose of Curriculum for Excellence is encapsulated in the four capacities – to enable each child or young person to be a successful learner, a confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor (see the graphic below).

FourCapacitiesDiagram

This project draws on at least two of these capacities (although self awareness and confidence are drawn in…) and I’ll detail them now:

1) Talking about something you are interested in is empowering – it also challenges how you articulate your interest. Audio doesn’t allow you to fall back on gestures and pictures so it’s all about the words. CfE – I witnessed enthusiasm, motivation and openness (successful learners). 

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2) These reviews were recorded with several (if not all) of the class mates listening in (no pressure then…). They’re listening to the review, learning from someone their own age and either wondering if their own review would have been as good or wanting them to hurry up and finish so that they can have a go. CfE – Communication in different ways and different settings, working in partnerships and critical thinking (effective contributors)

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3) There are other things to talk about but the one that fascinates me is this. As part of the introduction to what we’re about to do in class I play a recoding of my daughter reviewing Lemony Snicket. It was recorded 2010. Our primary school is quite small and most of the kids know each other. It was great for the P2s to listen to a ‘big’ P4 talking about their favourite book – but – it’s the P2 version of them from two years ago!  Think about it – it can mess with your head a bit, but the kids love it!

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Obviously within families the benefits of sharing across siblings and, potentially, generations could have huge benefits in terms of appreciating and understanding one another as well as the experience of sharing common interest across time! It’s a bit like being Doctor Who, but instead of a Tardis we have a QR Code.

Where do you see the value (if any…) in projects like this?
Would you question my interpretation of the CfE?

You can hear more book reviews by my own children here including this one from three years ago:

Please, enjoy the AudioBoos and leave me some feedback… I’d love to hear from you!