Suburban Birmingham: Hands On

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Languages Cultures Art History & Music

Abstract

The Hands On approach used a cross-sector, cross-disciplinary team to transform the M&G website data into a multi-touch (MT) version for use on MT screens. Suburban Birmingham: Hands On maximised the impact of the website dataset produced by academics, curators, archivists, and librarians working on the M&G project Suburban Birmingham: spaces and places, 1880-1960 and who are drawn from University of Birmingham (UB), UB Special Collections (UBSC), Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (BMAG), and Birmingham Heritage and Archives Services (BHAS). The data set now includes 200-300 copyright-cleared, digitised images arranged into 6 themed 'exhibitions' with catalogue data for each object, c.500 words of interpretive text for 120+ of the objects; 9 themed essays of c.4000 words referring to the objects; c.1500 word introduction to the dataset as a research resource; 3 c. 500 word outlines of the areas of the partner collections, and related finding aids, pertaining to the project; a c. 500 word introduction to the project's working methods; a 10-minute VODcast outlining how the project's cross-sector collaborative research model informed, and was shaped by, the project; links to related web resources. The new output enabled multiple users to interact simultaneously with the data using highly intuitive hand gestures, ensuring that improved group learning takes place among the community of users within display spaces.

The project achieved a series of objectives, they were able to: develop an innovative MT interface for existing Suburban Birmingham web data, include a UGC interface in the MT output, conduct HCI and well-being testing of the MT interface outside and within display spaces before installing MT output's alpha and Formulate recommendations re best practice in MT and UGC MLA outputs for dissemination to HEIs and non-HEIs. The project was able to provide evidence-based recommendations re best practice in development of MT and UGC research outputs for MLAs and HEIs. The overall outcomes of the project are improved evidence-based knowledge and understanding among HEIs and non-HEIs of the production, testing, and implementation of research-driven digital outputs with highly intuitive MT interfaces and UGC capabilities.

Publications

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Description This was a follow on project and, as such, was primarily focused on developing the pathways to impact for another research project. Nevertheless, this project did lead to significant new lessons being learned regarding Human Computer Interaction for users engaging in public spaces with multi-user, multi-touch software whose content draws upon arts and humanities research. Such discoveries we primarily focused on the balance of graphic to text interfaces and the navigability of each mode of display for diverse user groups.
Exploitation Route The findings of this project are likely to be taken forward by academics and non-academics engaged in the development of multi-user, multi-touch software. Such audiences can access a scholarly article that details the project: Will Byrne, Russell Beale, Richard Clay, 'Suburban Birmingham - designing accessible cultural history using multi-touch tables', Proceedings of the BSC-HCI Interaction Specialist Group Conference on People and Computers (BSC-HCI, Swindon), 2012, pp. 21-27. Furthermore, this follow on project informed the development of a £2.4m ERDF project that is co-directed by this project's PI and many of the partners and the ERDF project's collaborators (including over 150 SMEs, cultural organisations, and academics) have been able to explore the design issues raised by the development of this software and related software written and tested by the ERDF projec team subsequently.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description The project led to cultural impact by allowing larger audiences to access the collaboratively produced research generated by the original Suburban Birmingham project (tens of thousands of interactions have thus far been logged by the interfaces). It also improved the 'visitor offer' of Birmingham and, therefore, had economic impact on the regional economy. Furthermore, the project had social impact because it improved appreciation among the partners of the benefits of cross-sector collaboration when developing display space interactives in partnership with UB and with SMEs; this realisation led to changes in working practices among the partners. As a result, the non-HEI partners became partners with UB on a £2.4m ERDF project that is co-directed by this AHRC project's PI and that focuses on the production of digital outputs in 'triple helix' collaborations between university researchers, cultural organisations, and SMES. The ERDF project has, in turn, has led to the generation of considerable cultural, social and economic impact).
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description ERDF 'Digital Cultural Heritage Demonstrator'
Amount £1,200,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 080/P1/002 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 09/2011 
End 12/2014
 
Description Hand On: further funding AHRC 'Cultural intermediation: connecting communities in the creative urban economy'
Amount £1,497,642 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/J005320/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2011 
End 01/2012
 
Description Hand On: further funding AHRC 'Cultural intermediation: connecting communities in the creative urban economy'
Amount £1,497,642 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/J005320/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2012 
End 09/2015
 
Description Hands On' and AHRC-funded 'Digital CoPs and Robbers: Communities of Practice and the Transformation of Research
Amount £20,679 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/J013153/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2012 
End 07/2012
 
Description Hands On: multi-touch, multi-user tables and modern language teaching
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Italanian1 
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2012 
End 09/2012
 
Description Multi-touch, multi-user software in museum and library display spaces 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The software produced by the project team allows several people to simultaneously access, by touch, 120 digital images and explanatory texts, to expand them, to gain access to the Suburban website using QR codes (where further images can and essays can be accessed), and/or enter their email addresses so that users can be sent links to the website. The software was installed in the public display spaces of the University of Birmingham's Cadbury Research library in May 2012, in BMT's 'Birmingham History Galleries' in September 2012, and in LoB in 2013. In each space, the software was accessible via a 50-inch, multi-user, multi-touch screen by visitors.


The project led to cultural impact by allowing larger audiences to access the collaboratively produced research generated by the original Suburban Birmingham project (tens of thousands of interactions have thus far been logged by the interfaces). It also improved the 'visitor offer' of Birmingham and, therefore, had economic impact on the regional economy. Furthermore, the project had social impact because it improved appreciation among the partners of the benefits of cross-sector collaboration when developing display space interactives in partnership with UB and with SMEs; this realisation led to changes in working practices among the partners. As a result, the non-HEI partners became partners with UB on a £2.4m ERDF project that is co-directed by this AHRC project's PI and that focuses on the production of digital outputs in 'triple helix' collaborations between university researchers, cultural organisations, and SMES. The ERDF project has, in turn, has led to the generation of considerable cultural, social and economic impact).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012