ARTyFACTS: Designing an online learning environment for art objects Claire Bradley Learning Technology Research Institute, University of North London Co-authors:

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  • ARTyFACTS: Designing an online learning environment for art objects Claire Bradley Learning Technology Research Institute, University of North London Co-authors: John Cook, Peter Oriogun, Kathleen Henderson, Anne Baker
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  • Introduction ARTyFACTS - an online learning environment for users to engage with art objects An on-going research project Funded from a small grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board in the UK A collaborative team-based project comprising artists, lecturers, software engineers, multimedia designers, musicians, pedagogical scientists and learning technologists
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  • Project goals Could we apply digital technologies to provide a rich and multisensory experience for remote users to engage with art objects? Allow users to get under the skin of culture by offering simultaneous layers of meaning and supplementary contextual data Provide a system which galleries, museums or owners of collections could use for their own artifacts Meet the needs of a range of users formal learning - students, art historians, curators, etc. informal learning - art lovers, tourists, etc.
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  • The scope of the project The project focussed on 4 areas to explore if these goals were achievable: the design of the learning environment system architecture and design of a customisable multisensory toolkit (CM toolkit) development of a small prototype to be able to test the environment design and architecture evaluation of the prototype This presentation will focus on: design considerations the prototype learning environment created areas identified for further development
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  • Design considerations 1 The design of the environment centred on a key research question: can extensive information, sound, media, images, data and hyperlinks relating to an object be successfully interfaced to give a sense of that object to a remote viewer? Pedagogic approach: based on constructivist principles - enabling rich user-centred interactions and the social construction of knowledge via a multimedia learning environment
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  • Design considerations 2 Applying digital technologies current digital imaging techniques - reveal the layers of detail and information normally invisible in artworks by digitising available records and constructing models we can contribute to the digital preservation of artworks and provide richer contextual information e.g. photos, video clips, press articles, critiques virtual models, reconstructions and simulations
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  • Design considerations 3 The integration of databases and knowledge-based systems - enable objects and information to be classified, stored and retrieved via user choice or a computer-based agent The Internet as a delivery platform allows: access to everyone with an Internet connection (no physical distribution) delivery of multimedia content (Flash-based animations and interactive movies, streaming media, QuickTime VR panoramas or models) access to further Internet-based resources
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  • Design considerations 4 Development of user profiles the aim was to base the presentation of content and its retrieval from the database upon user profiles so that data components presented are more closely related to users interests initially 7 user types were identified for the prototype these were narrowed down to 3 profiles: art historian, artist and tourist each was outlined in a specification
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  • Design considerations 5 Architecture of the Customisable Multimedia (CM) Toolkit the main objective of the toolkit design was to devise a system design that would allow components to be re- used - by the developers or museum/gallery curators the architecture was specified using software engineering techniques 6 modules were identified: web page and service manager, web services, user manager, object handlers, search engine, database management the result is a generic architecture for generating multisensory learning environments
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  • The ARTyFACTS prototype system The prototype system was intentionally kept small in its scope to enable our research aims to be explored and then evaluated to gain feedback Content selection and creation - limited to 2 art objects
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  • Art object 1: The Doge Portrait of Leonardo Loredan, the Doge of Venice Painted by Giovanni Bellini in 1501-1504 Courtesy of The National Gallery, London
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  • Art object 2: The House House Site-specific sculpture created by Rachel Whiteread Concrete cast of a 3-story terraced house 1993 - demolished in 1994 Courtesy of The Anthony DOffay Gallery, London, and Rachel Whiteread
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  • Entering the learning environment Users enter the learning environment from an opening screen From here they select a user profile and enter the environment
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  • The user interface The 2 art objects
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  • Navigational device Access to the available multimedia resources is via the spiral The spiral provides a simplistic visual representation of the available resources and their contextual relevance to the central object Resources are represented by thumbnail icons
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  • Map of the area of Venice
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  • Description of the Doges hat
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  • The learning experience For each artwork, a unique learning experience unfolds the learner chooses what they want to look at, firstly by selecting a profile that matches their interests, and then by selecting from the available multimedia resources For The Doge painting contextual material provides examples of what 16th century Venice was like For The House resources include press articles and photographs of the sculpture, including photos of it being demolished
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  • Areas for further development Usability Test the CM Toolkit model Incorporate metadata and comply with developing standards for learning objects and learning environments - will facilitate scaling-up and re-usability Improve user profiling to utilise intelligent agents Extend the functionality of the learning environment to enable interaction and communication amongst users Enhance the multisensory learning experience
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  • Conclusions The project has provided a vehicle for the exploration of a number of areas of interest to the project team The goal was to try and develop online systems and multisensory learning environments, which are vital to enable the enhanced learning experiences required for engaging with art objects > e-learning, lifelong learning, informal learning By harnessing and applying digital online technologies we can more successfully create a rich learning experience for remote audiences and provide opportunities that are not possible in the physical world
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  • Contact details Claire Bradley Learning Technology Research Institute, University of North London