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R. Pace1, P. Limone2

1Università del Salento- ISUFI (ITALY)
2Università degli Studi di Foggia (ITALY)
This study aims at exploring a participatory and democratic approach to interaction design of mobile learning for museum communication. The research project is placed in the field of the context aware design of indoor innovative communication systems.
We will discuss the application of the research technique of cultural probes (Gaver et al. 1999), as a design tool.
This technique, triangulated with focus groups, video-ethnography (Suchman and Trig, 1991) and technology biography (Blythe et al. 2000) will help us to investigate how children speak and make sense of their informative needs, and then to co-design an intervention.
This contribution is placed within a constructivist framework and proposes a model of cooperative design of content for mobile communication learning. We describe an experience of co-design of a mobile interface used in a museum context.

The research is divided into 4 stages:
1) A group of young teenagers, with the guidance of school teachers, develops technology biographies of the use of mobile devices and the use of cultural media.
2) The same teenagers visit a museum following a standard route. At this stage each student is asked to read and take note, through the technique of cultural probes, of the communication devices along the path (captions, panels, multimedia presentations, etc.). Student-researchers are provided with a tool-kit for observation (camera, pen, notebook, etc..), which allows them to express their vision of communication in a "mediated" museum.
3) This phase of research involves the analysis of materials produced by the student-visitors together with their suggestions, comments, proposals. These materials are the basis for co-design the interface of a device for the mobile-learning, with reference to the interface design (colors, spaces, etc..) and the multimedia content contained therein. Teenagers, divided in focus groups, are asked to interpret, as native informants, the “stories” they told us trough their ethnographic accounts.
4) In the last phase, the research team develops a mobile interface and tests it with the students and a wider public.

The work is placed in a relatively under-researched field of participatory design of musem e-learning devices and propose a wider model for action-research in the context of study, modelling, analysis and implementation of IT system for education. We aims primarily at studying a set of qualitative methods and propose a research model that could help designers to develop user-centred devices.
The experience has been carried out at the County Museum "Sigismondo Castromediano" of Lecce in Italy, and involves some secondary school students.