Six Chinese students currently studying a Mass Communications top up degree at York St John University have been developing their skills in developing online content for specific audiences via a unique assessment experience. This year’s cohort have had an exciting opportunity to work with two inspirational businesses in York to bring to life their vision for a tour-guide app for a local visitor attraction.
As part of the Mass Communications course, the students put their emerging knowledge and skills to work on a practical project. Course tutor Jane Cullen, a former ITV and BBC television producer, linked the course up with the York Chocolate Story with the aim of producing an App to help make their exhibition more accessible to foreign visitors.
Over the last few months the students have developed content for a Chinese tour guide app. The app idea emerged from an initial visit to the museum, where the students discussed the barriers to engagement experienced by Chinese tourists, one of York’s largest visitor groups. As part of their assessment, the students worked on individual sections of the app, translating the museum’s existing visitor notes – including important health and allergy notices – filming guided tours and adapting the content for an international audience by, for example, contextualising local history references. In preparation for designing the app, they were required to research and reflect upon their experiences of similar technology-enhanced museum experiences.
The students also drew upon resources at the Yorkshire Film Archive – based at York St John University – to incorporate some very rare footage of a Rowntree’s trip to Africa tracing the route of the cocoa coming to York. Jane Cullen adds “We knew what we wanted to offer the attraction, but as this is still fairly new technology to be offering within the curriculum, we were delighted when York App Company ‘The Distance’ agreed to give us some advice and expertise. They saw the potential in what we were doing and spent time helping us to develop our ideas.”
Alongside their app design proposal, the final assessment included a critically reflexive report on the activities and products undertaken over the course of the project, with references to established Mass Communication theory and processes.
The students have now presented their prototype App to the York Chocolate Story attraction. Hopefully, when they return for their graduation in November, they may find that their virtual App ideas have indeed become a reality!
Do you currently work with technology or technology businesses to provide authentic learning experiences? Could you see opportunities for replicating Jane’s assessment approach in your teaching?
Róisín (with thanks to Jane Cullen for sharing this exciting project!)