Engaging audio based mobile applications
Several studies have linked participation in extracurricular activities to young people’s positive development and positive academic outcomes. Thus, schools are willingly co-operating with parties who can offer extracurricular activities. Museums, galleries and other cultural institutions using, for example, digital storytelling and augmented reality as part of their activities, are willing to cooperate with schools by organizing extracurricular activities as one approach when trying to attract more visitors. We have developed audio platform, two different workshops and engagement measurement instrument to support these cultural institutes in organizing extracurricular activities.
Our platform consists of an audio digital asset management system (ADAM), a management application, and mobile applications. The platform is modular so that a user, for instance a cultural institute, is able to pick up only those mobile applications that they need. ADAM contains functionalities to manage the assets, and an interface for the management application and a mobile application over the Internet. The management application is an administration console for managing the audio files and users. The mobile applications are audio story sharing and audio augmented reality, which enable creating and sharing digital stories and soundscapes.
As our audio platform aims at activating young people, we need to reach that audience. For this purpose, we need to co-operate with and motivate schools and teachers. Thus, workshops, which fulfil extracurricular characteristics, will serve this purpose. In our case, we have developed two different workshops, which have a clear structure, are supervised by adults, and have pedagogical objectives for the participants’ skill development.
There are several definitions of engagement. Today, most motivation and engagement researchers have come to an agreement that motivation is the antecedent of engagement. We will use the student engagement definition by Fredricks, Blumenfeld and Paris, which the vast majority of engagement researchers agree. They defined the student engagement being a multidimensional structure consisting of behavioral, emotional and cognitive engagement components. We have applied the student engagement structure in order to find out the level of engagement in workshops. By observing participants and utilizing a questionnaire, which we have developed, it is possible to measure the level of three engagement components.
We have tested our audio platform, workshop concept, and engagement measurement instrument in four separate events in Finland and Poland. In two workshops, young participants were augmenting audio reality by creating innovative soundscapes in order to understand how the city soundscapes have changed due to urbanization, and in two workshops, they were recording and sharing audio stories including story related emotions. When applying our engagement evaluation approach we were expecting more variation on engagement results due to different demographics. If we start with emotional engagement, the results in all four workshops were quite similar. Behavior wise there were some differences. Most of the differences could be seen in cognitive engagement.
The results are promising. There is a versatile audio platform, which is affordable for cultural institutions, and there is a concept to reach young people and a measurement instrument to measure the level of engagement in a workshop context.
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