Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 749–760 | Cite as

To the Castle! A comparison of two audio guides to enable public discovery of historical events

  • Elizabeth FitzGeraldEmail author
  • Claire Taylor
  • Michael Craven
Original Article


This paper describes and compares two audio guides used to inform the general public about local historical events, specifically the 1831 Reform Riot as it happened in and around Nottingham in England. One audio guide consisted of a guided walk, organised and produced by a local community history group, where members of the group performed spoken narratives at specific points of interest around Nottingham city centre, delivered to a large group of participants. The other guide was a trail of geolocated audio files, created by the same community history group and delivered via location-aware smartphones to a smaller group of participants. This second guide provided similar historical information at the same points of interest as the guided walk, authored using a third-party software app that employed a mapping facility to trigger audio events at specified locations. Our central research question was to examine how these experiences differed or were similar; whether they provided an effective means of learning by the general public about local historical events; and how these kinds of techniques can be used in the future or by other community groups.


Audio guide Location-based experience Mobile learning Experiment History Public engagement 



Our thanks go to Russell Beale for providing feedback on earlier drafts of this paper, also to Robert Jones and Faye Taylor for assisting with the study, and to our friends in People’s Histreh. Lastly, we are enormously grateful to all those who participated in the walks, particularly those who staunchly suffered the cold and wet weather!


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth FitzGerald
    • 1
    Email author
  • Claire Taylor
    • 2
  • Michael Craven
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Educational TechnologyThe Open UniversityWalton Hall, Milton KeynesUK
  2. 2.Department of HistoryUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  3. 3.Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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