Learning in CyberParks – a Learning journey in the Argotti Gardens (Malta) using the WAY-CyberParks App.

Year of implementation: 
2015
Added value of technology: 
Use of ICT as a support and challenge for new outdoor activities
Technology applied: 
Position informatics
Typology of open spaces: 
Parks and gardens
Short description: 

This mobile learning activity explores how Smartphones or e-tablets can enhance one’s experience while visiting a CyberPark. A learning journey comprising seven ‘Points of Interest’ (PoI) was developed for the Argotti Gardens in Floriana, Malta, using the Andriod-based WAY-Cyberparks App (freely downloadable from Google Play). At each PoI content is triggered through GPS using an augmented reality app. The WAY-Cyberparks App is initially loaded with content related to the PoIs making up the learning journey. A visitor at the Argotti garden navigates to a PoI and on arriving at a set position the GPS activates a resource template on the mobile device that provides user with learning activities using different media options (text, images, audio, video). The visitor can explore freely the site through the use of the different media provided or guided through an inquiry-based approach to use the media resources and the real background to answer questions prompted by the built-in tutorial. The learner is provided with maps, models or images that are superimposed on the real background enabling user to develop a better understanding of the design and function of particular structures or the chronology of an event. The learning journey commences with an introduction at the first PoI close to the entrance of the Argotti gardens. The visitor is welcomed and given important information about the Argotti Gardens, its layout and the GPS-activated learning activities at the PoIs enabling him/her to explore historical, architectural and scientific features of this place. The other PoIs provide a learning experience about the nynpheum for which AR is used to develop an understanding of the nympheum concept using examples of other nymphea from all over the world. Another PoIs describes the Garden’s water irrigation system using a video clip showing the cavity of the three very large underground water cisterns. Other PoIs discuss the Argotti Villa, an Endemic Tree found in the back garden of the Villa, the Cacti Collection and a viewpoint on Bastion at the innermost part of the Gardens to comment about the Msida creek, Manoel Island, Marsamxetto harbour and Sliema area.
Once a visitor is at the correct coordinates of a PoI the learning activity is activated on the mobile and the user can go through the proposed content selecting any of the option buttons. Users are then guided to reflect and share their experience at that PoI through comments or media created.

Why is it relevant as Cyberpark: 

The main objective of this smart learning project is to enhance and possibly transform the experience of citizens visiting the Argotti Gardens. Digital technologies and communication systems are integrated with the physical environment to provide a, holistic, hybrid experience. A visitor’s physical experience is enhanced through augmentations mediated by digital technologies and through communication systems that increase the dimensions (physical and virtual environments, contiguous and on-line communities, data systems) and levels of interactions (acquisition of information, sharing of experience and knowledge, mediating and supporting others’ experience). This project enhanced citizens’ experience in Argotti Gardens acquiring more the characteristics of a CyberPark – a place/space, addressing various citizens’ needs, enhanced through technology and becoming more social, interactive, glocal, hybrid, connected, multipurpose.

People involved in the project: 

Ph Bonanno & Joe. Buhagiar (Univ of Malta); Alf. Bahillo (Univ de Deusto, Bilbao), Fern Álvarez (Univ de Extremadura); Rob. Pierdicca, Eva S. Malinverni & Ern Marcheggiani (Univ Delle Marche, Ancona).

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