Storytelling, learning and adaptivity: a difficult mixing

Isabelle Astic, France

Published paper: Storytelling, learning, and adaptivity: A difficult mixing

Information and Communication Technologies fostered new storytelling approaches in museums. Slowly, museums opened themselves to their environement, sliding from self-contained multimedia guided visits, to connected and interactive experience. With the emergence of smart-cities, museums are now part of a larger downtown tour. In addition, these technologies provided new means to personalize visits more accurately over time. The fist step considered age or language. The new era promotes accessibility: it took into account expertise, socio-cultural background or any disability. As the museum is now just a step in a visit, the narration need to become adaptive and aware, meaning that it should be able to dynamically adapt itself to the surrounding context, the tiredness or the shift of the visitor’s interest.

The CNAM-CEDRIC, MIM team worked on 3 experiments of digital adaptive interpretation in museum. Two were designed during the « PLUG, Play Ubiquitous and Play more » project, funded by the french National Research Agency. The last one was the purpose of the ArtSENSE project funded by the European Commission. The first experiment was a pervasive « game of emergence » where the adaptive aspect was hard coded into the game design through the rules of the games. It matched perfectly and dynamically the players’ personality but suffered from a lack of real narration. But, it partially reached the learning objective. This first experiment was more a gamification of a museum discovery than a serious game. It is why the second experiment was designed as a pervasive « game of progression ». It owned a strong narrative universe, centred on the educational message the museum wanted to value. The adaptive facility reacted to the abilities or difficulties the players encountered during two specific sequences of the narration. The third experiment was related to adaptive augmented reality visits. Its purpose was to adapt the whole guided visit to the visitors’ interest defined by the monitoring and the analysis of biophysical indicators and eye-tracking feature on augmented reality glasses.

These three experiments demonstrated that more adaptivity and narration are put together, more the narration needs to be structured. But more the narration is structured, more its consistency, and thus its learning content, is difficult to maintain. One line of inquiry to solve this squared circle could be that the visitor restores himself this consistency. It could be done by designing the visit as a serious pervasive game merging narration and emergence as a form of adaptivity. From this statement, transmedia storytelling could be an accurate solution to explore. More generally, such narrative and pervasive serious “games of emergence” seem to be good education games. They help to transfert learning into the real life and players develop their own strategies at their own pace. Connecting scientific, cultural and government open data, as well as the connected cultural communities, they could become a way to educate the new citizenship that smart-cities require.

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