Monday, May 24, 2010

The Talking Walls - Beaulieu Abbey Launch 2010

On Wednesday 19th May, at Beaulieu Abbey, the launch of The Talking Walls - Beaulieu Abbey multimedia kiosk application took place in front of a large group of invited guests. This was the culmination of several months of organisation between myself, a group of Southampton Solent University's MA Marketing students and Beaulieu.

The event was perceived as a success, according to feedback. The guests showed considerable interest in the application. They were interested in how it would eventually evolve to mobile handsets, the way that adults, professionals and children would be able to access information at their own level in successive versions, and how additional content would be added to continuously engage these groups.

Mary Montagu Scott introduced The Talking Walls, explaining how it would help visitors to learn more about the abbey from the characters that lived and worked at there over it's lifetime. Lord Montagu watched as I demonstrated how to navigate through the rich multimedia content - 9 characters each with their own 'twist' on the animated tours of the abbey. The feedback from Mary and the Bealieu team was very positive. Mary is particlarly pleased with the depth of the information that can be explored, whilst at the abbey or once back at school / home. A great success as far as fulfilling the brief is concerned, I think.

Susan Tomkins, the archivist is also pleased and looks forward to seeing this working on mobile handsets. In the future it is hoped that the visitor will be able to access areas of the application on their own smartphones and explore how the abbey looked whilst standing in the ruins, or play with the educational games whilst sitting in the grounds.

Several of the feedback questionnaires completed requested more than one kiosk, having had to queue to explore the virtual abbey and it's characters. The mobile application would solve this, as people would then be able to access the content on their own devices. Another response was how they would like to see the content for the different groups mentioned above (the current version is a generic age group). This is planned for a future version, with content gradually building and being separated as it grows.

I would like to thank all the guests who came to the launch and for everyone involved in helping make the launch a great success. If you would like to watch a 3-part video on YouTube of the launch speeches, please follow this link for part 1a, part 1b and part 2.

The kiosk is permanently installed in the Abbey museum, visitors to the abbey will be able to visit and explore the virtual abbey and characters during their visit and afterwards on the website:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Further Developments

Since October several things have happened which have kept me really quite busy. I am now enjoying life as a full-time Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Winchester (started end of Jan 2010). It has helped considerably by having already taught part-time on the course last semester, so it is not too much of a 'new start' but more a continuation and extension of what I was already doing.

In this role, I am involved in the single honours programme - BA / BSc Digital Media Design & Development, of which Mike Seignior is the Course Leader, and a new MA Digital Media Practice degree, for which I am Course Leader, starting in October 2010. A reasonable amount to be getting on with, and a challenge to ensure it works well and becomes successful.

The undergrad degree is approaching the end of its first complete run through of students, having only started 3 years ago, becoming more popular each year, so we now have 14 students ending their first year this summer. It will be interesting to see how the MA Digital Media Practice is received by prospective students in October. The MA (full and part-time)will be an excellent opportunity for those already practicing digital media and who would like to convert their knowledge into a Masters qualification, at the same time improving and learning new skills.

A new course website is currently being designed to showcase current BA/BSc students' work and provide a 'meeting place' and information portal for everything relating to both degree courses and their students. I will post the url as soon as it is in place.

As well as all of the above, The Talking Walls - Beaulieu Abbey application is being launched on the 19th May 2010, with a demonstration of how the application works. This will be on a new kiosk recently installed specifically for the Talking Walls-Beaulieu Abbey application in the Domus Undercroft at Beaulieu Abbey. It is quite exciting seeing the development of this product finally come together. It is even more exciting knowing that visitors to Beaulieu Abbey will be able to explore the history of the abbey and see / hear about the different characters that lived there in the 13th - 16th centuries over the years to come.

We have a group of excellent MA Marketing students (Southampton Solent University) working on the launch with me, ensuring that we have various press officers attending, suitable press releases and managing the guest list's rsvps. A great deal of work has already gone into organising the event, with many thanks to Beaulieu in assisting us with this and making it possible.

We will also be trialling the use of mobile handsets at the event so that guests will be able to walk around the abbey grounds and explore in their own time and in the spaces they want to explore. Digital Media students from Winchester and Marketing students from Southampton Solent University will be able to test the application and give feedback on usability / content of the app on both the kiosk and handsets. Guests might also like to provide feedback, allowing us to explore how well (or not!)the design works and which method of use is the most popular.

If you would like to be included in this event, please contact me at: and we will send you an invite or discuss how you may be able to help.