Are you using immersive technologies in archaeology or heritage education (formal and informal)?

Join us in Oxford, April 2020, at the CAA conference to critically discuss your experiences & test some examples…

iN Deep - CAA Conference CFPElaine Sullivan (University of California, Santa Cruz), Paola Derudas (Lund University) and I are excited to announce the call for contributions to a session that we will host at the upcoming Computing Applications in Archaeology conference in Oxford, UK, 14-17 April 2020.

We seek individuals who have been using immersive technologies – virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality or other XR methods – in their archaeology/heritage classrooms or informal educational settings. Have you been applying these technologies for formal or informal pedagogical purposes and evaluating their effects? If so, this session is for you!

We are specifically looking for critical discussion of the outcomes of using such tools for teaching and learning. We are interested in how the evaluations that you’ve done can help to inform future design, development and curation of immersive teaching & learning aids. We also hope to enable conference attendees to actually try out these technologies during the session so that everyone can contribute to a dialogue about how we critically analyse and evolve them.

A full description of our session is below. Deadline for applications is 31 October, and instructions on how to submit an abstract are available on the CAA Conference webpages.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions! And hope to see you there.

S26.  iN Deep: Cultural Presence in Immersive Educational Experiences (Other)

Convenors:

Elaine A. Sullivan, University of California Santa Cruz
Sara Perry, University of York
Paola Derudas, Lunds Universitet

Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (XR) technologies are increasingly incorporated into university classrooms and public education in the GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums). The potential to use these technologies to engage students and the public with archaeological knowledge (such as site reconstructions, artefacts, or re-imagining the activities of past peoples) is exciting, but these forms of representation, including the use of individual headsets, tablets, and personal mobile phones, come with particular challenges. In his book Critical Gaming (2015), Eric Champion argued that virtual realities should express ‘cultural presence,’ the meaning and significance of a time, place, or object to people of the past. Hyper-reality, photogrammetry, and ever-increasing levels of ‘accuracy’ in 3D models do not inherently convey aspects of cultural significance and meaning, and many VR/AR/XR experiences fall dramatically short of the goal of expressing the importance of past places and things to their original communities. Emphasis on technological and (especially) hardware innovation often deflects attention from critically engaging with questions of meaning-making.

This panel asks those creating or intensely using Archaeology VR/AR/XR to focus NOT on software, hardware, or the latest technical innovations, but on how we as archaeologists can better designcreate, or curate experiences that inspire and educate students and the public on the cultural importance of archaeological spaces, objects or themes. What are successful techniques to aid a visitor to better understand the original context of an object now placed in a (often far off) museum or gallery? How can university instructors incorporate the (problematically individual) headset or mobile experiences into pedagogy to provide meaningful and active student learning? How can complex data be usefully layered or curated so that multiple types of museum visitors or classes could find it informative and emotionally resonant? How can we turn these increasingly popular technologies into serious spaces of cultural learning and curiosity, moving beyond the initial ‘wow’ factor?

Format

Instead of traditional 20 minute talks, we request that participants present 8-10 minutes in depth on one VR/AR/XR experience they have designed and/or utilized in a university or GLAM setting (not a general review of multiple types of work). We ask participants to present and explain aspects of design and interaction and their intent in that experience; or, if the content was not designed by the presenter, how content was incorporated, curated, or enhanced for the classroom or GLAM experience. Specifically, we ask presenters to think thoughtfully and critically about how we might collectively learn to use these technologies in more informed ways, including: What types of interactions with students or the public have shown promise, and how might we build on those successes? What practices have not worked, and how might we learn from our failures? What particular aspects of archaeological and cultural heritage knowledge are best emphasized in the VR/AR/XR experience? What is key to re-using content created by others, including content created by non-archaeologists?

The session will be divided into four sections:

  • 1st group of presentations, ~five presenters (10 minutes per presentation)
  • a ~30 minute ‘hands-on’ period** where participants and the audience will be able to engage/interact directly with the presented content from both presentation groups
  • 2nd group of presentations, ~five presenters (10 minutes per presentation)
  • concluded by a ~30-minute Q&A session for the full group of presenters and audience

We hope this format will allow the audience to engage directly with the content before opening up the session for questions and comments. The goal is to turn this session into a workshop that helps all present work more critically with VR/AR/XR content and improve how we communicate scholarly information at the university and GLAM setting.

**We therefore ask participants to commit to bringing their discussed content uploaded or downloadable in some format that can be shared directly with others: including (but not limited to) VR headsets, Google cardboard, AR apps pre-installed on tablets or smart phones, etc.

References

Champion, E. (2015). Critical Gaming: Interactive History and Virtual Heritage. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Can you help evaluate our multi-person VR experience?

Volunteers needed to assist with Virtual Reality case study for EMOTIVE Project…

EMOTIVE VR Experience
Partners on the EMOTIVE Project testing an early single-user version of the Çatalhöyük virtual reality experience. Photo by NOHO / Karolina Badzmierowska.

The EMOTIVE team, led by University of York MSc researcher Kristen O’Connor in collaboration with teams at INRIA in France, ATHENA in Greece, and CNR in Italy, has been developing a virtual reality (VR) experience of the archaeological site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey. We need your help!

While VR for heritage is a relatively young field, there are a number of common VR practices which we think detract from the overall user experience. For instance, heritage VR tends to place people alone in a visually-stunning but largely stale environment. These experiences do little to make archaeology and heritage more accessible to wider audiences, who perhaps want to do more than simply look. This is why we have designed a new take on heritage VR, focusing on a shared user experience in an environment of doing.

Our Çatalhöyük VR project is multi-player, allowing people who haven’t met before to explore and interact together at the virtual site. We have also used multiple stages of user feedback to inform the experience design. Currently in the last stage of development, we would like your help to provide input for the project’s final iteration. 

We are holding a Workshop at King’s Manor (Room K/G 60) on August 9, from 1pm, and we need a handful of volunteers. This workshop will involve a test between you and another volunteer, who will be joining the experience remotely from one of our partner sites abroad.

Volunteers should:

  • Be aged 14 and up.
  • Have used VR of any type before, at least once, and be comfortable using an HTC Vive (VR system).
  • Be comfortable testing a prototype VR experience which is still under development.
  • Be willing to meet new people, share something about yourself, and explore new concepts about archaeology together. Ideally, you are not employed in the heritage, archaeology, or museums sector.
  • Be willing to allow parts of your participation to be recorded, photographed, and observed. This information will be analysed to inform research on heritage VR, as well as to contribute to changes to the final release of the Çatalhöyük VR experience.

If you are interested to participate, or know of someone who might be, please can you contact the lead researcher on this project, Kristen O’Connor, by email (kristen.oconnor@york.ac.uk) before Tuesday, August 6.

Thank you!