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University helps local groups develop multi-media


The University of the West of England, Bristol has developed a project which looks at ways in which new media technologies can be used by community groups in Bristol.\ \ The project is managed by staff from the Department of Computing with an Advisory Group from the community and voluntary sector. A pilot site has been set up at Barton Hill Settlement with a project worker, Mijanou Blech. A first stage is underway using Authorware to develop multi-media productions with groups.\ \ Later developments will be to make the productions available via a world-wide web site. The kinds of project ideas currently being developed include:

  • work with a group of isolated older people who are involved in the making of an autobiographical quilt. The stories of the lives of the makers and the making of the quilt will be captured in a multi-media version.
  • work to address the problems faced by community arts groups when the County of Avon was replaced by four unitary authorities. A multi-media production showing the richness and value of community arts work will be developed to raise awareness and support within the new authorities and with the public.
  • a locality based multi-media production telling the story of a small neighbourhood through an interactive map to underpin and celebrate the local community.

Morris Williams, of the Department of Computing writes “initially we thought a problem might be ideas for the use of multi-media because people might not know it's capabilities.\ \ 'Instead we found that the community groups have long used a wide variety of media and immediately saw the communication potentials of multi-media and the Internet. They wanted to be producers however not just consumers and at the same time gain new skills. Ideas are not is short supply.\ \ 'What has been a problem is establishing a robust technical platform. Theoretically we had 'plug and play compatibility' of hardware & software through Windows'95 but the practice has proven rather more difficult.\ \ 'We have been carefully documenting our technical progress but what would really help us and similar projects is technical expertise in overcoming the fragility of technical platforms in their set-up phase.'\ \ Nick Plant, Morris' colleague, offers the following tips for similar projects:

  • get partner organisations in early to help shape your project's aims and practice to make them relevant to local needs, there is a danger of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) projects being parachuted into areas as the latest panacea.
  • don't underestimate the time it takes to set up and test your technical platform
  • when things go wrong don't try and just “hack it” or you'll be in deeper problems later on.
  • document everything you do.
  • plan ahead to try and judge demand, managing expectations needs to be done carefully in the light of all the hype surrounding ICTs - don't promise what you can't deliver.

The Connections Project is funded by the Bristol Regeneration Partnership under the Single Regeneration Budget.\ \ For more information contact Nick Plant or Morris Williams at the Department of Computing, UWE, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY

partnerships/articles/bristol.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)