The British government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has been piloting a mobile service which connects students with the venues they visit on school trips. OOKL, built by design agency SEA, uses standard mobile phones to enable pupils to take photographs, record sounds and enter notes while at the venue. This information is then uploaded to an OOKL page, similar in appearance to MySpace, where the teacher can assess their work and fellow students can collaborate and share ideas.
The pilot has included three venues: the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth, the Study Gallery of Modern Art in Poole and Urbis in Manchester.
OOKL requires the venue to install and provide the devices. Although they are standard mobile handsets, they have been specially modified with software to support the service and disable voice calls and text messaging.
OOKL also connects students to the physical world of the exhibit they are visiting. Codes published alongside the display can be entered into the mobile device to access additional information.
A video demonstration can be seen here.
This strikes me as an excellent idea. It combines many of the elements which comprise a truly delightful user experience: linking to the physical environment, collaboration with peers, close integration with other digital platforms and the ability to collect and organise memories.
SEA, the agency which developed the service, chose to use standard handsets because their target users – 10 to 14 year olds – were already very familiar with the technology. They also benefit from the economies of scale and ubiquitous infrastructure of mobile telephony.
Paul Phillips, Creative Director at the SEA, said: â€œOOKL is real next-generation technology in action and is reaching a young, technology-savvy audience in the right way. We have ensured that OOKL is not limiting in its applications and pupils have access to new and exciting opportunities they never even knew existed before.â€?
The results have apparently been very positive and it is easy to see how a service such as this, which enables children to interact with rather than merely consume museums and galleries, would be popular with students and teachers alike.
Lisa Davison, year 6 teacher for pilot school Haslingden Primary said: â€œThe pupils have all been so engrossed in every lesson about Myartspace, which can only be described as â€˜totally incredibleâ€™. Some of the more boisterous pupils have been extremely focused and we, as teachers, wholeheartedly welcome OOKL as an educational tool as a key part of enriching pupils minds and lives.â€?
I encourage you to explore the service for yourself at www.ookl.org.uk.