Embodied Experiences of Mobile Technologies

Mobile technologies have particular features that are likely to change individuals’ embodied experiences of places. Here at MODE, we’re conducting a research project to look at the influence of mobile technologies on young students’ navigation and exploration of a local site of interest and its cultural history.

We have designed a digital environment on the iPad for 10-11 year olds that allows them to explore the WW2 history of Clapham Common. The modified Evernote app, which you can see in the figure below, encourages individuals to move around the Common while accessing visual, written and audio information about the history of the Common. Users are also encouraged to upload their own photos and audio recordings about their experience of the Common.

Figure 1: App environment for exploring Clapham Common

Figure 1: App environment for exploring Clapham Common

Our research questions probe the possibility that particular features of mobile technologies change the way individuals experience a place. In particular, we are interested in how these features change what the body is doing (the embodied experience of the place) and how this in turn affects the overall experience.

datacollectionfilming

Researcher generated video

A mad flurry of data collection has happened over the last fortnight. Working with 60 students at a primary school in Clapham, we collected a range of video data on their experiences of the Common while using the mobile digital environment on the iPad. This data included researcher-generated, headcam and bodycam video. The video was supplemented GPS trackings and the photos and audio recordings that the students themselves created while exploring the Common in pairs

Before and after the experience, the students recorded their thoughts and feelings about the Common via a series of classroom activities, including map-making and recounting the route they’d taken on a mapped floor.

datacollectionheadcam

Video from the headcam

Before and after the experience, the students recorded their thoughts and feelings about the Common via a series of classroom activities, including map-making and recounting the route they’d taken on a mapped floor

Students recounting their experience on the mapped floor

Students recounting their experience on the mapped floor

Over the next few weeks, we’ll begin to get to grips with all of the data we’ve collected. As well as engaging with the research questions about embodied experiences, we are trying to determine how different forms of digital data can enable us to engage with embodiment and embodied experiences of place on an empirical level.

 

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