Inuvialuit Voices: cultural heritage preservation and access through digital storytelling in digital libraries

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: heritage, social sciences, traditional knowledge, storytelling, literacy, digital technology

Principal Investigator: Shiri, Ali (4)
Licence Number: 16618
Organization: School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta
Licensed Year(s): 2019
Issued: Aug 30, 2019
Project Team: Sharon Farnel; Ethel-Jean Gruben; Lucy Kuptana

Objective(s): To investigate, develop, and evaluate a real-time, audio-recording digital storytelling and commenting user interface for the Inuvialuit Digital Library.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.4547.

The overarching objective of this study is to investigate, develop, and evaluate a real-time, audio-recording digital storytelling and commenting user interface for the Inuvialuit Digital Library in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) in order to facilitate live capturing of Inuit community input and stories while interacting with the Digital Library. Specific objectives of this project will include:
1) establishing a novel community-driven participatory design methodology for developing an audio-recording digital storytelling user interface;
2) designing, prototyping, and developing said interface with Inuvialuktun features such as storytelling and commenting functionalities that can be captured in real time;
3) exploring the enhancement of the currently available digital materials of cultural heritage within the Library through real-time stories and comments by Inuvialuit community members; and,4) conducting a community-driven usability evaluation of the real-time, digital storytelling user interface and its audio-recording functionalities.

Informed by Indigenous and community-based research methodologies, this study will adopt ethnography and participatory design to investigate, design and evaluate an audio-recording digital storytelling user interface for the Inuvialuit Digital Library. Ethnography will be employed to conduct observation and interviews, and open houses in the Inuvialuit Cultural Centre (ICC) in Inuvik. Specific ethnographic and participatory research tools include: interviews and conversations, focus groups, oral histories, participant observation, workshops, and site visits. These methods will be agreed upon and adjusted in collaboration with community collaborators and, as such, will be used to understand complex cultural information and issues in local context. Co-design, which is a type of participatory design methodology, requires that design processes be generally iterative in nature. The research team will use a variety of methods to increase opportunities for community input. Participatory design will be adopted in three stages, namely: 1) initial development of the conceptual design behind the audio-recording user interface; 2) a discovery process to clarify user goals and agree on the outcome of the project; and, 3) prototyping, to iteratively shape and design the user interface in close collaboration with ISR community members, and to conduct a user-centred evaluation of the resulting user interface.

In the early stages of the project, and with close collaboration with the ICC in Inuvik, the research team will hold an open-house event followed by a number of focus group conversations. The purpose is to engage community leaders, elders, and members in order to gather and analyze user needs and requirements, to elicit information about the idea of digital storytelling interfaces, and how the Inuvialuit Digital Library can benefit from such technological enhancements such as real-time capturing of stories and comments.

As a part of this multi-method community consultation process, community members will be shown items in the Inuvialuit Digital Library. Given that the ISR communities are already familiar with and make regular use of the Digital Library, specific oral and family history, language materials will be shown to community members to encourage and provide storytelling opportunities and informal conversations. Situational observation of their interactions within the natural setting will be conducted, and the researchers will record cultural and interactive nuances of Indigenous storytelling. In particular, the community elders and ICC language instructors will be involved to suggest digital storytelling features and functionalities as a basis for designing a prototype of a real-time digital storytelling interface.

Following community consultation and input, a prototype user interface with audio capturing functionalities will be designed. The prototyping stage will ensure the iterative, inclusive design, and evaluation of the user interface in close collaboration with community members. The prototype will be designed using both paper-based and digital techniques to allow community members to comfortably comment, critique, and evaluate the suitability of user interface elements. The interface will be translated into the dialects of Inuvialuktun through collaboration with local translators.

Evaluation is an iterative and ongoing part of participatory user interface design and development. Once the prototype is designed and functional, community workshops will be held at ICC for conducting usability evaluation of the resulting user interface for both prototype and the final iteration of the interface. To maximize the participation of members from all ISR communities, workshops will be held in conjunction with ICC language revitalization and trades workshops, and community events such as Inuvialuit Summer Literacy camps and the Inuvialuit Day.

Participants will complete a number of storytelling and commenting user tasks that will contribute to the usability of the prototype interface. They will be asked to choose from diverse range of digital items (video, audio, image, electronic book, etc.) from the Inuvialuit Digital Library that are aligned with their personal interests to record, replay their stories, and comment about the items in real-time. They will be asked to record short (2-5 minutes) and medium-length (20-30 minutes) stories and comments in relation to various content types, such as family photos, cultural celebration videos, language-learning electronic books, and their own story in order to test the performance and functionality of the interface. They will be asked to make comments about their interaction experience, the ease of learning, the ease of use of the user interface, and possible improvements that need to be made. Observation notes will be recorded during the user interaction with the audio-recording interface. Based on user input and observations, final improvements will be made to the interface to complete the development process.

Another open-house community workshop will be held to evaluate the final iteration of the interface using a select number of individuals that would consist of elders, college students, Inuvialuit language teachers, and ICRC staff members.

Results will communicated iteratively during the project through community presentations, workshops, and open houses. Pre-prints of academic publications will be uploaded to an open repository (ERA at the University of Alberta Libraries) and linked to the project website.

The real-time, audio-recording interface will continue to be available to community as a part of the Inuvialuit Digital Library after the project is completed. The Inuvialuit Cultural Centre will have long term control of the library and interface.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from September 19, 2019 to December 31, 2019.