On 18 November 2014, the class of ‘Digital Britain: Engaging the User’ from Syracuse University visited Historypin for a morning’s workshop. We were really happy to be able to share and discuss Historypin.org with a great group of enthusiastic digital communications students. Here is a guest blog post from lecturer Carol Nahra about the day.
As a London-based university lecturer hosting visiting American students, it can be difficult sometimes to plan field trips that get them into the heart of bustling London without sacrificing learning. Sometimes visits can be too superficial, and light on content. But keep them bound to the classroom and they might as well be back home in the U.S. The ideal study abroad experience is all about offering up quality opportunities to learn in their temporary city. I recently hit the jackpot by taking my students on a visit to Historypin. They were able to step directly into a central London workspace, whilst also taking part in a valuable workshop which was crucially two way in its information exchange.
The Syracuse University class I teach is called Digital Britain: Engaging the User, and is all about ways in which the British media and cultural industries are using the digital revolution to engage in creative ways. We’ve been to the Telegraph and the BBC, as well as the Science Museum and Wellcome Trust, examining and reviewing a range of interactive projects.
To prepare for our visit, Lise from Historypin developed a homework assignment that got the students signing up to Historypin and posting photos. They were told that their feedback about this process would go directly to the site’s developers – this knowledge spurred the students to give it more attention than they might otherwise have done!
In the workshop, after learning about Historypin and its objectives, and mission, Lise and her colleague Sophie engaged the students in a discussion in which they verbally gave feedback on their homework. These 20 year-old digital natives weren’t shy about sharing what they felt worked about the site and what could be improved, and I think their comments were appreciated by Lise and Sophie, particularly as their demographic is not overly represented on the site.
The students’ input was followed up with detailed bullet points, for example from one student who said: “I would personally feel more comfortable sharing stories and items if my profile was private and I could approve of the viewers.” Much of their feedback centered on how Historypin operates as a hybrid sharing site, and how best it can fit into a crowded social media landscape.
They also had the chance to role play some of Historypin’s very active users, and think through how such a site can enrich the lives of a range of people. In all it was a very engaging day, and one that I hope to repeat with the next batch of students!