The Storytelling website: A Positive Evaluation

Something we have been busy with in the past months, is the creation of a Storytelling website. This website allows end-users to build online stories that showcase a group of digital objects in combination with narrative text. After the creation of a personal account, users can start uploading their own digital objects such as their old family photo albums and combine them with online resources they selected from cultural portals such as Europeana. To enable the easy transfer and reuse of content found on Europeana and other cultural heritage repositories, a brand new plugin was created that connects to the Europeana Space WITH API. Visitors can now search for masses of online cultural heritage content directly from the Storytelling application and select those objects of interest to create novel and personal stories and collections with them.

On the 25th of April, an evaluation of the Storytelling website was carried out at KU Leuven with a group of students of the MA of Cultural Studies. Fred Truyen (KU Leuven), Roxanne Wyns (LIBIS) and Clarissa Colangelo (KU Leuven) provided the students with an evaluation form and guided them through the main features of the website, from the search tool to the creation of personal collections and stories.

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The testing and evaluation was divided in four sections. The first was a test of the functionalities of the website on the level of the software, such as the creation of an account, the personal space on the website, the search tool, the upload and editing of own images, and the creation of collections and stories. In the second section, the students had to try out and evaluate the results coming from the search tool Search Europeana Space, which works with the WITH API; questions concerned the possibility to find relevant materials, the quality of the items found and their metadata. The third section was an evaluation of the available information on the website and of the step-by-step guide, while the fourth concerned the concept itself of the Storytelling website, with questions on targeted audiences, possible investors, and business models. An additional section at the end of the evaluation form provided a space for extra remarks and/or suggestions.

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The results were overall positive. The students provided insightful feedback and suggested small changes here and there in order to facilitate access and usage. They found the idea of a storytelling website to promote the reuse of cultural heritage content very interesting. The website has been considered to be a very useful and powerful tool to make digital cultural heritage materials more interesting and available. The main audience that could be using and investing in such a tool has been envisioned by the students to be the cultural sector, namely cultural institutions, museums and archives, and the educational sector.

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Our next steps now will be to take care of all the suggestions and remarks that this evaluation brought forward, by adjusting the design, adding the needed information and fixing few technical issues. The aim is of course to make the website as user-friendly, complete and relevant as possible in order to be ready for a broader use!

Clarissa Colangelo, KU Leuven