The work of the Design research group relates to a specific set of challenges around the theme of ‘Interpretations and Representations’.

At the heart of this is a reflection upon the opportunities for public engagement throughout the whole project, and the various ways the research from the Art History, History, Archaeology and Science teams might enter the public domain.

The group brings together specialists in computer science (particularly human computer interaction) and museum studies (specifically digital heritage).

Using methodologies from these two academic disciplines, this research group is attempting to develop a number of interfaces between the project team, its subject and its users.

A social media presence

First, the group is keen to explore the ways in which heritage and academic institutions can build impactful and participatory online presences that place the user as paramount. For this project, the team is especially interested in the ways that academic research can be presented as an open and on-going discussion – rather than as something that is closed and final. And it is here that the role of our Audience Advocate (Dr Adair Richards) is vital.

One way we will be doing this on this project is by implementing an approach called ‘Social Requirement Engineering’. This approach captures requirements using social media to enable voices of a large spread of users to be heard and fed back into the design process. Dr Effie Law is using the Representing Re-Formation project (and this website) as a way of validating this methodology and seeing how it might be of use to the heritage sector more widely.

A mobile app

Another important role for the Design research group, again with its focus on user-centredness and participation, is to develop appropriate interpretive interventions around the Thetford site and its accompanying stories. Drawing upon the research of Dr Ross Parry, the group is currently developing a mobile media app for use at the site allowing for flexible, personalised and situated engagement with the findings of the project.

Educational resources for Schools

The whole research group will also be working closely with the Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service (especially the Ancient House in Thetford) to develop a range of curriculum-based educational resources for schoolteachers, based upon the methodologies and discoveries of the research team.

An Exhibition

Finally, the Design research group will also be leading the development of a public exhibition, planned for the summer of 2013, at the Ancient House in Thetford. One key challenge of designing this exhibition will be how to present a set of complex three-dimensional objects, such as the tomb monuments – especially when they are incomplete, may have changed their shape and detail through time, and when the exact nature of their construction may be open to debate. In light of this, this research group will, therefore, be investigating how the heritage sector attempts to display ‘doubt’ and ‘complexity’ in contexts such as this.