Interdisciplinary Learning – Intangible Cultural Heritage and Human Computer Interaction
The Hilali toolkit proposes that cultural heritage and computing science can lead to engaging learning experiences for students which can have a genuine impact on education for sustainable development.
The field of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) has communities at its core. Communities draw individual and collective meanings from ICH, and even if they don’t use the term themselves, they keep ICH alive every day in their daily practices.
Technology is bringing the community reproduction of ICH into digital environments. However, involving communities in this process is not an easy task. Not everyone has the necessary digital literacy to contribute. Established Human Computer Interaction (HCI) participatory methods can be beneficial to creating digital spaces where communities can better identify with and, as a consequence, engage more deeply in the documentation of ICH.
This toolkit brings ICH and HCI together to provide ways of teaching and learning about the two in unique ways to cross discipline boundaries and make the best of collaborative opportunities in the two areas.
Heritage activity in many communities is concentrated at a broad level (festivals) where technology use has been limited to the creation of databases rather than tangible tools to support underlying issues of participation.
The Hilali Toolkit is grows out The Hilali Network which is a research project supporting community driven development of digital artefacts to increase awareness and translation of the relationship between daily lived experience of intangible cultural heritage and cultural heritage innovation regionally, nationally and internationally.
Innovation in digital technology has played a major role in supporting the documentation of intangible cultural heritage but very often this has been limited to web-based materials and repositories. The sustainability of the community driven documenting and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage can be harnessed to its full potential by supporting the participation of community members, developing awareness by the wider society with the value of intangible cultural heritage. The ideas on which this toolkit is based are that building the technical capacity of students to preserve and present lived intangible cultural heritage is one way forward.
This toolkit places a particular focus on students who are following both computing science and social science oriented pathways. The resources have been developed from practice which means that they have work directly in partnership with teachers and students in Egypt at their origin.
References to the notion of a living curriculum are found in both the Learning and Education and HCI fields.
Marshall and Scott (2012) say that a living curriculum
“repositions learning as a continuous conversation within a dynamic curriculum that is integrated with, and takes advice from, the world our students live in”.
In practice, for us this means developing curricula which is co-created by students, teachers, communities, academics in ICH and HCI as well as the artefacts and tools of ICH and HCI. At the core is also a focus on the co-creation processes themselves and different modes of engagement between the co-creators. In creating this toolkit, we have worked in partnership with students and teachers as well as academics in ICH and HCI to learn from each other. The activities we offer are a result of our shared reflections put into bite-sized and practical formats for others to try out for themselves.
In living curricula development in HCI, there has been a specific focus on creating educational resources to address the needs of HCI students in the area of human-centered and human-oriented technology innovation.
As Churchill et al. (2016) say,
This is no easy task as computing science teaching in some educational systems take a very heavily technically-oriented approach to computing science education.
Churchill et al. (2014) have worked with the global HCI community of teachers and students identify the top priorities of HCI to work towards the development of a content-focused living curriculum – one which is developed with educational processes and local audiences at its core.
Design principles from the HCI content-focussed perspective on a Living Curriculum permeate every area of the Hilali Toolkit. For example, we include our design principles drawing on multiple but complementary theoretical perspectives, we include information from the cultural context of our work in Egypt to develop it, we use case studies from the Hilali Summer School to develop the activities and guidance for teachers, we are explicit about the methods we used to create the tools in this kit and the activities, we provide real-life data from the Hilali Summer School to highlight the processes of engagement. We also share prototype teaching materials for re-use and re-mixing using a Creative Commons approach.
When working with students on the development of the toolkit, we received feedback that although students felt inspired by the new teaching and learning approaches in learning about ICH-HCI, they were not convinced that their teachers would adapt and adopt to them as there was so much emphasis on student-led learning. At times they also felt a little daunted themselves trying out new ways of making and creating when they didn’t necessarily feel they had the knowledge to experiment when some of the learning was so new. So we thought further about how this toolkit could support student, teachers and organisations to be more inclusive of students as a diverse body. Drawing on work at Kingston University, UK, we decided to explore embedding ideas from the concept of an inclusive curriculum to help this process.
An inclusive curriculum recognises that students in Higher Education come from a range of different backgrounds and differ by age, gender, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and faith. They also bring with them a diverse set of learning styles, educational experience and cultural capital, as well as differing levels of confidence and self-esteem. An inclusive curriculum understands that this diversity is a key strength which provides learning opportunities for all those involved in higher education.
The Inclusive Curriculum Framework developed at Kingston is a practical framework which takes the theoretical concept of an inclusive curriculum and exemplifies how this can be achieved in academic programmes in Higher Education. The framework adopts three key principles fundamental to creating and delivering a comprehensively inclusive curriculum. These are to:
Create an accessible curriculum (conceptually and practically)
Enable students to see themselves reflected in the curriculum
Equip students with the skills to positively contribute to and work in a global and diverse environment
We have been inspired by ideas from the Inclusive Curriculum Framework. It informs this toolkit in the content provided in the activities and the templates offered to others who want to add to them.
Applying and adopting a more inclusive approach also involves considering new ways working together at an organisational level and our experience in the Hilali Network has taught us that this is no easy task either. Organisations and educational systems wishing to use this toolkit to inform programme re-design, and to support the changes to practice which it entails, may be interested in this short film which explains how Kingston has applied an institutional approach to inclusivity:
In preparation and during the Hilali Summer School in Egypt, we worked with the Higher Education Academy in the UK to start to think about how the different ways of designing for learning and teaching about HCI and ICH could be articulated and shared with others.
We found their Flexible Learning framework was really helpful tool for this and at the same time for showing how the ideas in the framework are proceduralised in local contexts.
Of particular relevance was the notion of learner empowerment which Flexible Learning has at its core – how to empower students in offering choices in how, what, and when they learn. This toolkit brings to life components of Flexible Learning and its focus on learner empowerment as students become more actively involved in the development of their own learning in ICH and HCI.
The five areas below around the notion of learner empowerment demonstrate some of the areas adopting the toolkit can impact upon.
- Requires imagining alternatives and thinking beyond present scenarios
- Working with increasing agency and the ability to challenge existing practices
- Industry to have a more central role in shaping how and what we teach
- Embedding diversity beyond the mere inclusion of global examples
- Extending inter-cultural literacy and exposing divergent views and values
- Focusing on adaptive ability to apply knowledge and skills
- Related qualities of creativity, resilience, openness, courage will need to be engaged
- Drawing on unintended learning and life-wide approaches
- Movement towards interdisciplinary knowing and away from specific expertise
- Working with stakeholders to develop coherent responses to complex issues
- Refocusing on the application of knowledge in real-world scenarios
- Extending the contexts in which learning happens
- Using new technology and virtual spaces for interaction
- Placing value on learning outside of the formal curriculum and in the community
We think that some of the key questions to come out of the toolkit development in collaboration with the HEA are worth considering if you want to adopt and adapt your existing curricula or create new ones to address the challenges of cultural heritage:
Learner readiness for flexibility
- How well are you preparing our students your flexible learning and working – especially when this means students taking greater responsibility for their own learning?
- How can you and other colleagues be supported in adopting new technologies and resources and to develop approaches to utilise these effectively?
- How can institutions plan to cope with the variety and flexibility required to appropriately and sustainably support flexible learning?