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Creating & Using location based media

Project website/blog 

(this project is related to the Wolfson Situ8 project)

What research questions the project addresses, aims & themes

This research is around location-based learning and the use of mobile media. People have always taken an interest in the natural environment and many educational institutions organise field trips, where their students can participate in field work (often outdoors). For example, within the OU, Environmental Science and Geology field trips occur at Level 2. OU students also go out into the field to do their own observations and projects and Associate Lecturers on some courses run day-school-type field trips. These educational excursions are a popular way to get students to experience their natural surroundings first hand, in a variety of subjects including biology, geography, history and geology. However, field trips have fallen out of vogue in recent times since they do not scale well to large numbers and they can be expensive to run. They also tend to be a managed process arising from formal education. As a result, field trips are limited in what they can achieve, in terms of providing environmental education to a wide variety of people. There is a real opportunity instead to harness an unexplored and untapped source of information and knowledge through informal, as well as formal, interactions to inform and teach people about their surroundings.

The research challenge therefore, is to develop new models of technology-enhanced learning based on the activity of capturing, filtering and presentation of crowd-sourced locational information.

The idea behind this research is that almost anyone could be an author of such information, creating media for others to access, thus giving fascinating insights into how other perceive their surroundings whilst also enabling informal opportunities to learn more about the place/space that they are in.  

How the research questions are addressed by the project (methodology and activity/environment)

This small-scale project focused upon the feasibility and development of the prototype app, exploring many challenges (both technical and socio-cultural) in relation to the capture, storage and streaming of multimedia in a ubiquitous computing environment. The infrastructure, storyboarding and design processes were integral to the success and usability of the app, with the team prioritising well-designed basic functionality over lower quality, broader functionality. Initial evaluations were carried out using an extended System Usability Scale (SUS) questionnaire, which showed positive feedback from users and a desire to use the app in a range of different settings. 

Findings and outputs

Funding enabled the development of an Android mobile app that can be used to deliver and create location-based media in situ in outdoor locations and also initial field trials/evaluations of the app. 

Project impact

Related publications: FitzGerald, Elizabeth (2013) Situ8: browsing and capturing geolocated user-created content. In CALRG Annual Conference 2013, 11-12 June 2013, Milton Keynes, UK.
FitzGerald, Elizabeth and Adams, Anne (2013) GeoHCI for learning in the wild. In: GeoHCI Workshop at CHI 2013, 27–28 April 2013, Paris, France.
FitzGerald, Elizabeth (2012). Creating user-generated content for location-based learning: an authoring framework. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(3), pp. 195–207.


Location-based media, user-generated content, informal learning, formal learning, place-based learning, geo-learning 

People involved

Elizabeth FitzGerald (Principle Investigator, IET)

Kevin McLeod (IET

Will Woods (IET)

Juliette Culver (IET)

Project partners and links

The Open University: 


Ordnance Survey and The Open University (Multi-Disciplinary Research Fund)

Start Date and Duration

1 June 2012 - 31 Dec 2012  

Research & Innovation