Kari Salo de­fends his PhD thesis on Modular Audio Platform for Youth Engagement in a Museum Context

26.2.2019
On Friday the 8th of March 2019, Lic.Sc. (Tech) Kari Salo will defend his doctoral thesis on Modular Audio Platform for Youth Engagement in a Museum Context in Metsätalo. The thesis is closely related to research done in the People's Smart Sculpture project, which is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

Lic.Sc. (Tech) Kari Salo defends his doctoral thesis Modular Audio Platform for Youth Engagement in a Museum Context on Friday the 8th of March 2019 at 12 o'clock noon in the University of Helsinki Metsätalo Building, Lecture room 8 (Fabianinkatu 39 or Unioninkatu 40 B, 3rd floor). His opponent is Professor Markku Turunen (University of Tampere) and custos Professor Tommi Mikkonen (University of Helsinki). The defence will be held in Finnish.

Modular Audio Platform for Youth Engagement in a Museum Context

The purpose of this thesis is to support museums and other cultural institutes in their mission to attract young visitors by offering engaging experiences. The main goals of the thesis were to develop a modular and easy-to-use audio story-sharing and audio-augmented reality platform, and evaluate the usefulness of the platform by measuring the level of engagement of participating youth in a workshop context.

Design-science research methodology was used for audio platform component development, and mixed-methods were used to study the utility of platform components as case studies. At a more detailed level this means that the expandable and modular platform was developed incrementally one component at a time. When developing Audio Digital Asset Management, action research was used. For the Soundscape Mixer development, combined action research was used until the software was in the α phase after which a separate evaluation method was used in the β phase. For the Audiostory Sharing development design-science research with separate building and evaluation methods was used. After implementation and testing the audio platform also from the usability angle, we moved on to engagement research. Workshops were organized in order to demonstrate the usage of the audio platform. During the workshops engagement was researched using mixed method, namely quantitative self-report questionnaires and qualitative methods in the form of observations.

We have succeeded in developing a modular and versatile audio platform. All of the hardware is commonly used including Android phones. Software-wise the backend system is based on open source components. As the backend system provides relevant APIs, new mobile applications can be developed by third parties. In parallel, a concept was also developed, which helps to reach the young target audience and helps to measure the level of engagement. For this purpose, the student engagement structure has been applied in order to find out the level of engagement in workshops where the audio platform is a vital part.

As a final summary, the results are promising. There is a general-purpose audio platform, which is modular, expandable and affordable for cultural institutions, and there is a concept to reach young people and a measurement instrument to measure the level of engagement in an audio-related workshop context.

Avail­ab­il­ity of the dis­ser­ta­tion

An electronic version of the doctoral dissertation is available on the e-thesis site of the University of Helsinki at http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-4880-3.

Printed copies will be available on request from Kari Salo: kari.salo@metropolia.fi.