The team wants to use arts and technology to unlock that creative spark and link it to more formal literacy teaching to produce exciting, confident work. University researchers are exploring new technologies but don’t always have access to audiences or users to try out their idea and products. The Story Republic will provide a perfect vehicle for this.
Working with Dr Justin Marshall at Falmouth University, the project will explore the potential of using a Digital Talking Memory Box to support literacy in three schools in Newquay - about ninety children in total. Each class will work with a writer and their teacher to write stories and poems.
The Memory box provides a simple and engaging analogue interface to digital content. Children can digitally record filter and play back stories and associate them with RFID (radio frequency identifiers – like an oyster card) tagged found objects and personal cards.
This would then provide one digital box of stories which can be shared with other classes, parents and other schools. This concept would then be rolled out to 30 more schools, leading potentially to more commissioned boxes. Speaking and listening are key elements of literacy and often the precursor to writing; this programme provides a contemporary, motivating means to encourage these skills.
This funding enables the team to trial the Memory Box in schools, with the general public, parents and children, to promote family learning. It will build a Memory Box which will then be available for use in other schools. Beyond the initial teacher training, it will be inexpensive to resource, only £1/RFID tag.
The Story Republic will also be present in communities as an installation for visitors where it will be an interactive tool for sharing stories about people, places and objects. The Box will also be a wonderful resource in museums and community consultations.
The Story Republic is a two year Arts Council funded project and fits with their encouraging arts organisations to use technology to reach wider audiences. It is expected to develop beyond the initial two years. There is interest in sharing this with Fellows working in a similar field.