Diversifying the University Voice – Researcher/Student Mobile Trails

IT Innovation ChallengesStaff project based in TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities.

For more information, please contact innovations@it.ox.ac.uk  See also the Oxford Stories platform and the ‘Out in Oxford App‘ (Oxford GLAM pages).

Spring 2016 round


Diverse voices. Diverse perspectives. Diverse contexts. Diverse audiences.

The University of Oxford is an organisation of diverse voices, but as a large organisation with a strong central voice, few of these are audible to the public.

This project aims to capitalise on the potential of mobile for public engagement to reveal some of these diverse voices, sharing the University’s diverse stories, research and collections, thereby appealing to a wider section of the University’s thousands of staff and students, and the interests and affinities of a more varied cross-section of the public. We propose to build a content management system for the production and organisation of mobile optimised content (video, audio, images, text and location information), that can be published to a number of different mobile platforms, and to develop a training programme to teach students and academics how to create content for this medium. We intend to produce two apps tailored to specific types of content and modes of use to highlight the potential diverse applications of the technology.

The first product will enable the Pitt Rivers Museum to unleash student voices within the context of the galleries, working with undergraduates and graduates to enhance the visitor experience with alternative interpretations of the collections, asserting new connections between objects and their origins, biographies, use and contemporary significance.

The second product will tie into TORCH’s 2017 ‘Humanities and Identities’ headline programme. Taking to the city’s streets and buildings, TORCH will work with researchers from multiple disciplines to challenge issues of historical and institutional discrimination through revelation and storytelling, bringing to the fore discussion of hitherto largely unexplored issues within the academic establishment at Oxford such as race, gender, and sexuality.

These two projects will demonstrate the potential applications of the technology – both within the discrete, curated public space of a museum and ‘in the wild’ across the city of Oxford  – and provide initial datasets to help us understand how mobile user analytics can not only help us assess the functionality and user experience of such products, but also their usefulness for delivering this sort of public engagement that focusses exclusively on evocative and wide-reaching topics such as diversity, identity, decolonisation and restitution.

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