Techies in Residence – A Digital Approach to a Community Project

The Project: Focus on Family is the first Nurturing & Development Centre in Ireland and is located in the Ballysally Estate in Coleraine. Within their building they have a dedicated childcare facility, training room, IT suite, launderette, kitchens, social area and staff offices.

The Cornfield is a greenfield space that was created to engage and educate local communities in Millburn and Ballysally estates and to break down boundaries and bring people together in a beautiful, natural area. The Cornfield project is being developed by Aspire Community Partnership – a local consortium of grass-roots community groups who are working together for the benefit of the Causeway area

This 7.5 acre site was once neglected but is being transformed into a space for the community to enjoy, learn, explore and have fun by creating native wildflower areas and improving the biodiversity of the site.

The Cornfield project team want to use technology to provide a meaningful experience for visitors to the greenfield location, which will have the aim of being educational and enjoyable for visitors of all ages and to encourage donations and return visits.

The Challenge:  To develop a technical resource that provides interpretation for multiple audiences – adults, teachers with pupils and families with young children – with different interests e.g. specialist environmental, general and educational.  

The Solution: Focus on Family and Digital Key will work together to develop a website that can be accessed using QR codes at various locations in the Cornfield.

The site will have two critical roles – as a resource used to find information about the Cornfield as well as a mobile friendly version which can be used on location to enhance a visit.

The digital solution needs to provide layers of information that are selectable according to age, need, interest, knowledge and location.  The biggest challenge is that while it needs to engage and educate users, it cannot be totally immersive so that it does not distract visitors from their surroundings and does not demand a lot of onscreen interaction.  To that end, it will provie stimulus that encourages visitors to observe, appreciate and understand their surroundings.

It will also be a useful resource that can be accessed off-location in order to plan visits and raising site awareness/promotion.  It is also planned that there will be downloadable content which will provide a resource for teachers bringing school groups to the site.

Click here to find out more about the Techies in Residence programme.

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