Projects

A list of research collaborations/projects I have been involved with are listed below. My current research interests include the use of audio guides for location-based learning and/or effective visitor experiences and the potential for geolocated user-generated content to provide ad hoc informal learning opportunities for people of any age.
Many of my presentations about these projects or publications can be found on Slideshare.

Situ8 (2012-present)
Funder: OU / Ordnance Survey / The Wolfson Foundation
Role: Principal Investigator (PI)
Situ8 is a tool to let you annotate physical places with digital information. It enables the capture and browsing of geolocated multimedia. This means you can associate different media types (text, image, video, audio) with a particular outdoor location. You can use it to get location-specific information about what is near you. It’s powerful enough to support a range of activities, from capturing field data, or giving instructions, to creating memories and experiences. Phase 1 of Situ8 resulted in a prototype app for use on Android smartphones/tablets. Phase 2 led to the development of a web portal, so users can access Situ8 through their web browser.
Related publications: see FitzGerald et al, 2012c.

Pelagios2 (2011-2012)
Funder: JISC
Role: Named researcher
Pelagios2 was the next phase of the original Pelagios project. PELAGIOS stands for ‘Pelagios: Enable Linked Ancient Geodata In Open Systems’ – its aim was to help introduce Linked Open Data into online resources that refer to places in the Ancient World. Why do we want to do that? Well, we think it will make all sorts of other things possible, including new modes of discovery and visualization for scholars and the general public. Pelagios also means ‘of the sea’, the superhighway of the ancient world – a metaphor we consider appropriate for a digital resource that will connect references to ancient places.
View my SlideShare presentation about Pelagios2, presented to the OU Digital Humanities research group.

Hidden Histories: To the Castle! (2010-2011)
Funder: Towards Pervasive Media / EPSRC
Role: Co-Investigator (Co-I)
The research was a feasibility study, using geolocated media and informal learning, involving both professional (university) and community-based historians interested in enhancing public understanding of historical events in Nottingham. It supported the enhancement of historical literacy, historical ‘empathy’, and the user’s ability to draw informed conclusions about contested historical subject matter (by encountering conflicting and contrasting sources, offering a variety of perspectives). The historical subject matter was the 1831 Reform Riot in Nottingham, around which a community history group (People’s Histreh) designed a guided ‘history walk’. The project supported realisation of the walks and gathered participant responses for a ‘people-led’ and a ‘technology-led’ version of the walk where a media experience was delivered via smartphones, that triggered audio from different historical sources at specific locations of relevance to the Reform Riot around the city of Nottingham.
The short video on this website (3: Hidden Histories) provides an excellent summary of the project.
Related publications: see FitzGerald et al, 2012a and FitzGerald, 2012b.

STELLAR (2009-2011)
Funder: EU
Role: Member of institutional research team
STELLAR (Sustaining Technology Enhanced Learning at a LARge scale) was an EU Network of Excellence that represented the effort of the leading institutions and projects in European Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) to unify a diverse community.
This NoE in Technology Enhanced Learning was predicated on the view that in today’s knowledge society, people are not only confronted with classical transitions from school to university, from university to a company and so on. They are also faced with additional transitions, for example, between companies, between formal institutional learning and informal learning, between, learning for personal growth and learning for work. These transitions place high demands on people in terms of self-managed lifelong learning. Given this background, the StellarNet.eu Network of Excellence worked within the first of the four challenge themes for ICT research set out in the FP7 call and related to improving learning and educational systems.
Related publications: see Brown et al, 2009 and Brown, 2010.

Augmenting the Visitor Experience (2009-2011)
Funder: Part-funded through HEFCE SPLINT project
Role: Collaborating researcher
This work began as student exercise created for the Mobile and Field GIS field trip module, asking students to compare a range of techniques and technologies for augmenting landscape scenes, and then to reflect on the impact of these techniques on the learning experience of the visitor. The broader context of this work relates to how heritage information and other material relating to landscape themes (from glaciation to mining) can engage and enlighten visitors. The main study site has been the area around Keswick in the English Lake District, Cumbria. The broad pedagogic context is an exploration of the effectiveness of various technologies in augmenting an individual’s experience of the landscape, as alternatives to the one-to-many model often used to disseminate expert knowledge in the field (human field guides etc). Several technologies were used, including labelled acetates, PDAs (running custom-made apps or mScape), tablet PCs running Google Earth and also partial Virtual Reality/goggles with a 3D glaciation visualisation.
Related publications: see Priestnall et al (2009) or Priestnall et al (2010).

where:now (2009)
Funder: HEFCE’s Higher Education Innovation Fund/University of Nottingham Knowledge Transfer Award
Role: Member of research team
where:now was a knowledge transfer initiative which aimed to evangelise the use of technologies of location within the University of Nottingham. There was a growing body of knowledge within specialist centres of expertise in the University on the creation and deployment of location-based resources for both research and teaching. The aim of where:now was to strengthen this emerging core of expertise and to disseminate knowledge of geospatial technologies across the University. This was achieved through two workshops and helped to create many new collaborations, including ten new grant applications by August 2009. The project successfully brought together academics from the existing centres of research expertise, those interested in teaching and learning, members of information services, the estates department, and others, and culminated in the ongoing Augmented Campus initiative.
Related publications: Moore et al (2009).

A Study of Effective Evaluation Models and Practices for Technology Supported Physical Learning Spaces (JELS)(2009)
Funder: JISC
Role: Member of research team
The aim of this study was to identify and review the methods and tools currently used to evaluate the contribution technology-supported physical learning spaces make to learning and teaching. As this is a broader purpose than post-occupancy evaluation of the design objectives, it required an understanding of teaching and learning in particular contexts, both formal and informal. The conceptual framework for the research was based on the interaction of four elements: learning/learners, teaching/teachers, space and technology.
Main publication: Pearshouse et al (2009) or see the JISC website for more information.

Creator: CREATive Organisations Research (2008-2009)
Funder: EPSRC
Role: Project manager / research assistant
“Creator (CREATive Organisations Research): New Research Processes and Business Models for the Creative Industries” was a research cluster funded by EPSRC as part of the “Connecting Communities for the Digital Economy” initiative. The cluster brought together practitioners from the creative industries with researchers from varied traditions that span ICT, the arts and humanities, the social sciences, and business studies (around 60 people from more than 20 institutions, primarily across the UK).
More information about Creator can be found here, together with a list of the project outcomes (including a large number of publications).

Thrill Laboratory guinea pigs @ Alton Towers (2008)
Funder: EPSRC + various others
Role: Member of research team
The Fairground: Thrill Laboratory project is exploring the experience of thrill by instrumenting passengers on high-intensity amusement rides. Each rider wears a personal telemetry system that captures video (close-ups of their facial expression) and audio (as they talk and scream!), heart rate and galvanic skin response (GSR) data, and movement data from an accelerometer. This data may be streamed live to watching spectators or recorded to be shown to the riders afterwards, and in both cases is accompanied by an expert interpretation that explores the relationship between the psychological experience of thrill in terms of concepts such as valence (is it a good or a bad feeling) and arousal (how strong is the feeling) and physiological response.

In this study, researchers set out to monitor riders on as many rides as possible to uncover similarities and patterns in their thrilling experience. Each day began with an introduction to the theories behind the Walker Thrill Factor – (i) the assessment of emotions in terms of arousal and pleasure, (ii) how to identify thrill by monitoring arousal and pleasure, and (iii) the challenges facing the Laboratory in analysing even a ‘simple’ 3 minute ride. The end of the day concluded with a screening of riders’ face-cam videos of the day. These were used to produce souvenir videos along with physiological data and Psychological Thrill Profile results.
More information about this user trial can be found here; information about the Walker Thrill Factor can be found here.

Learning Styles in Adaptive Hypermedia (2002-2007)
Funder: School of Computer Science, University of Nottingham
Role: PhD student
This period of doctoral research addressed the issue of learning preferences, specifically investigating learning styles as an adaptation mechanism for personalised computer-based learning. A number of previous studies indicated the positive effect that this kind of adaptation provides, but under closer examination these were not conducted in a scientifically rigorous manner and thus their findings are somewhat limited. This research utilised a quantitative and highly objective approach to investigate visual/verbal and sequential/global learning styles in different user groups. Three user trials were carried out to discover whether there were any benefits to using these learning styles for studying in an adapted environment.

Overall, no statistically significant benefits were found and these findings now shed doubt as to whether learning styles are indeed an effective mechanism for personalised learning.
Related publications: see Brown et al 2005, 2006a, 2006b, 2007a, 2007b, 2009. PhD thesis available here.

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