Ocean Stories: Safeguarding Vernacular Knowledge, Linking Communities and Improving Ocean Literacy

  • Matos, Sonia (Principal Investigator)
  • Nisi , Valentina (Principal Investigator)
  • Marko, Radeta (Researcher)
  • Cesario, Vanessa (Student)
  • Carrigan, Tyler (Student)
  • Brunning, Amy (Student)
  • Gray, Pamela (Student)
  • Robinson, Katherine (Student)
  • Hutber, Zoe (Student)

Project Details


With the aim of improving ocean literacy of the Atlantic Ocean, this project was developed with the goal of recording vernacular knowledge of the marine environment that is characteristic of Madeira and the Azores (Portugal). In partnership with Madeira’s Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI) and the Museum of Natural History of Funchal (MMF), ‘Ocean Stories’ promotes ocean literacy amongst a younger generation of islanders and while offering visitors of the MMF the opportunity to come into contact with the museum’s unique collection of embalmed marine animals that were prepared by German taxidermist Günther Maul in the mid-twentieth century. This interaction is established through a mobile application that was designed specifically for this project and that invites local children to explore the MMF. With the intent of promoting modes of informal learning in a museum setting, the application that was designed for the Ocean Stories project displays key information while combining observational drawing and storytelling.

Key findings

The Knowledge Exchange and Impact Grant that was awarded to this project has provided the award recipient the opportunity to spend a period of time at M-ITI (Island of Madeira, Portugal). The aim of this visit was to develop, in collaboration with Researcher and User Experience Designer Valentina Nisi, the mobile application that is presented in the project description. In collaboration with Valentina Nisi’s team - in this case with Marko Radeta (post doctoral researcher at M-ITI) and with Vanessa Cesario (PhD candidate at M-ITI) - we have designed and developed an electronic application for a mobile-based and context-aware narrative interaction in a museum setting. The mobile application and experience that was created as part of this collaboration was designed to convey key information regarding the marine ecology of the Island of Madeira to future generations and to ensure that local communities have an opportunity to learn about local vernacular knowledge of their immediate marine environment in novel ways. 

Our first pilot test will use as content a story that was developed by the team and in collaboration with the Animation undergraduate program at the School of Design, Edinburgh College of Art and that will be complete by the end of March 2017. The first pilot test will take place at the MMF and with a group of local children, during the month of April 2017. In this test, the project will apply both qualitative and quantitive research methods and methodologies to assess the children’s use and understanding of the application and overall experience. In this instance, the goal is to explore and contrast user experience, learning and enjoyment outcomes. The data collected in the pilot study will be used to prepare publications for conferences and journals in the field of interaction design (some of the possible venues to communicate the project’s research findings are: ACM SIGCHI Interaction Design & Children, Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, INTERACT conference, DIS Designing Interactive Systems Conference and ACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium Computer-Human Interaction in Play). 
Effective start/end date22/08/1610/04/17


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