Dr Giasemi Vavoula


Associate Professor

Tel: +44(0)1162523966
Email: g.vavoula@leicester.ac.uk
Twitter: @giasemi
Google Scholar profile
ResearchGate profile


I have a PhD in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Birmingham (2004), MSc in Human-Centred Computer Systems from the University of Brighton (1998), BSc Hons in Computer Science from the University of Crete, Greece (1997). Prior to my appointment at Leicester, I held Research Fellowships at the University of Birmingham and the UK Open University, working on a number of research and commissioned evaluation projects in the area of mobile and technology-enhanced learning. I joined the School of Museum Studies at Leicester as RCUK Academic Fellow in 2007 and was then appointed Lecturer in 2012 and promoted to Associate Professor in 2017.

I am the School Director of Research (since 2018) and deputy REF Lead, and was previously Director of Postgraduate Research (2015-2018). I teach on campus-based and distance learning Masters programmes and supervise PhD and post-doctoral researchers.

I have been associate editor of the International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning since 2008 and act as reviewer for a number of academic journals and conferences in the areas of technology-enhanced learning and museum studies. I am a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and have acted as expert reviewer for several research councils internationally, including the European Research Council and Horizon2020 MSCA.


I teach on the School’s campus-based MA in Museum Studies ('Engaging Audiences' and 'Becoming Expert - Digital Specialism' modules) on topics related to human-centred design methods, interdisciplinary collaboration, evaluation and digital learning. I also supervise Masters dissertations and contribute to the Distance Learning MA in Socially-Engaged Practice and MA in Museum Studies.

Research supervision

I have supervised four PhDs to completion as main supervisor (Wijitra Suriyakul Na Ayudhya 2018, Simon Atkinson 2019, Zoi Tsiviltidou 2019, Chanin Suriyakul Na Ayudhya 2021). I currently supervise the following PhD candidates as first supervisor:

  • Gemma Cantlow: The Secret Lives of Digital Museum Resources and Collections: Teaching Practice and Interactions with the Smithsonian Learning Lab (Collaborative ESRC-funded project with the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access)
  • Mingshi Cui: Exploring the role of intercultural and international communication and collaboration when producing an exhibition in a digital era.
  • Sheng-Yen Lin: Evaluating interactive museum technology for school groups.
  • Phil Morris: Motion Capturing Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  • Torhild Skåtun: Co-designing with young people in a science museum: a qualitative study of process.
  • Brendon Wilkins: Digging the crowd: the future of archaeological research in the digital and collaborative economy.

I welcome inquiries from prospective PhD applicants interested in areas related to mobile learning and applications in museum and heritage contexts; creative engagement with digital archives; evaluation of digital media in heritage; digital exhibition design processes, approaches and evaluation. Current students are Gemma Cantlow, Mingshi Cui, Sheng-Yen Lin, Brendon Wilkins, Phil Morris, Torhild Skatun.

I am happy to mentor and/or support excellent candidates applying for postdoctoral fellowships in these areas. In the past I have supported the preparation and subsequently supervised three EU MCSA Individual Fellowships under Horizon2020 (Mason, Global Fellowship 2012-2015; Mason, Reintegration Fellowship, 2016-2018; Anastopoulou, Standard Fellowship 2019-2021).


I have researched and published widely in the area of Technology-Enhanced Learning, particularly mobile learning research and evaluation. My current research interests focus on the role of digital technology in fostering and sustaining learning and engagement with culture and heritage. I am particularly interested in the new models of participation and engagement enabled by social media and the issues that surround their design and sustainability, as well as the ways in which digital technology is transforming our experiences of heritage and culture. Emerging interests also include user-centred archives and the creative potential of digital archives.

Current projects include an ESRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral award with the Smithsonian Centre for Learning and Digital Access (project reference 2267326) that aims to contributes to debates on the educational potential of digital heritage collections. Such collections represent primarily curatorial knowledge that is not always readily usable as educational content; but requires interpretation and rendering to the target educational context. Acts of interpretation and instructional rendering are typically undertaken by educators, whose success depends on how well the hosting platform supports educational uses of the digital collection. The project highlights the ensuing two-way relationship between digital collection and its educator-users. Specifically, it examines how teaching practices shape and are shaped by educators’ encounters with digital heritage collections by addressing two key research questions: In what ways does the teaching practice of their users shape the educational capacity of digital heritage resources? And how do encounters with the hosting platform and the conceptual model that underlies its design, shape educators’ understanding of their own teaching practices?

I am also collaborating with the National Space Centre and MSCA Fellow Stamatina Anastopoulou on the ScienceMINQ project, which seeks to develop Rapid Inquiry pedagogical frameworks for science centres and science museums. Rapid Inquiry aims to enhance young visitors’ ability to remain “minds-on” during their “hands-on” engagement with interactive exhibits. It is a new pedagogical approach for science fieldtrips that explores the potential of inquiry-based approaches to purposefully frame visitors' multimodal experiences in the science museums and other informal science settings. It aspires to facilitate multimodal interactions as a central feature of science centres in a way that positively contributes to (rather than distracts from) the learning experience.

Recent collaborative projects include the award-winning Virtual Vauxhall Gardens, a multidisciplinary project led by Andrew Hugill that developed a multi-sensory, user-controlled, VR reconstruction of the experience of Vauxhall Gardens in 1752; the Horizon2020 MSCA project MuseCoP4DT that explored organisational design practices in digital cultural heritage; and the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts project Leicester Castle Tells its Story, which explored the potential of Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons to support mobile interpretation in historic buildings (the Leicester Castle app tours can be accessed via the web here https://leicestercastle.co.uk/).

Externally funded projects

ScienceMINQ: Developing Rapid Inquiry as a pedagogical framework for multimodal interactions in informal science settings (PI, 2019-2021)

MuseCoP4DT: Design Thinking for Digital Heritage: Developing Communities of Design Practice for Visitor Experience (PI, 2016-2018)

Leicester Castle Tells its Story (PI, 2014-2015)

Affective Digital Histories: Re-creating Britain's De-industrial Places, 1970s to the Present (CoI, 2014-2015)

DiMe4Heritage: Digital Media for Heritage - Refocusing design from the technology to the visitor experience (PI, 2012-2015)

iSay: Visitor-Generated Content in Heritage Institutions (PI, 2012-2013)

Mobiles and the mobilisation of historically interesting home movies (PI, 2014)

Full Circle: Local history, community archives and the audiovisual record (CoI, 2011-2014)

Selected and recent publications

A full list of publications can be found here.

Cui, M., Vavoula, G. (2021). Digital platforms as facilitators of dialogic co-creation of displaced object biographies. Journal of Cultural Management and Cultural Policy special issue "Digital Arts and Culture: Transformation or Transgression?", 2021(1).

Mason, M., Vavoula, G. (2021). Digital Cultural Heritage Design Practice: A Conceptual Framework. The Design Journal, 1-27. Free eprint available here.

Vavoula, G., Anastopoulou, S. (2020). School visits post-lockdown: The role of digital. University of Leicester. Report.

Vavoula, G., Tseliou, MA., Tsiviltidou, Z. (2019). Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon-based Positioning for Multimedia Guides in Heritage Buildings: a Case Study. World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (mLearn 2019).

Vavoula, G., Mason, M. (2017). Digital Exhibition Design: Boundary Crossing, Intermediary Design Deliverables, and Processes of Consent. Museum Management & Curatorship, 32(3), 252-271. Free eprint available here.

Tsiviltidou, Z., Vavoula, G. (2017). Digital Storytelling as a Framework for Inquiry-based Museum Learning. IEEE Proceedings of 17th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT 2017). DOI: 10.1109/ICALT.2017.50

Suriyakul Na Ayudhya, W., Vavoula, G. (2017). Mobile family learning in the science museum. In Proceedings of mLearn2017, Larnaca, Cyprus, Oct 30 – Nov 1. DOI: 10.1145/3136907.3136948

Sharples, M., Taylor, J., Vavoula, G. (2016) (2nd edition). A theory of learning for the mobile age. In Haythornthwaite, C., Andrews, R., Fransman, J., and Meyers, E. (eds) The SAGE Handbook of E-learning Research. SAGE.

Vavoula, G., Tseliou, M., Coleman, S., Ffoster-Jones, R., Long, P., and Simpson, E. (2015). Leicester Castle Tells its Story: Beacon-based Mobile Interpretation for Historic Buildings. In Guidi, G., Scopigno, R., Torres, J.C., Graf, H. IEEE Proceedings of Digital Heritage International Congress 2015, volume 2. ISBN: 978-1-5090-0048-7.

Vavoula, G., Coleman, S., Rhys, J. (2015). Leicester Castle tells its story: visitor engagement with historic buildings through beacon-based mobile interpretation. London: Nesta.

Sharples, M., Ainsworth, S., Beale, R., FitzGerald, E., Vavoula, G. (2012). Connect: Exploit the power of personal devices to enhance learning. System Upgrade: Realising the vision for UK education. A report from the ESRC/EPSRC Technology Enhanced Learning Research Programme. Director: Richard Noss, London Knowledge Lab.

Kukulska-Hulme, A., Sharples, M., Milrad, M., Arnedillo-Sánchez, I., & Vavoula, G. (2011). The Genesis and Development of Mobile Learning in Europe. In D. Parsons (Ed.), Combining E-Learning and M-Learning: New Applications of Blended Educational Resources (pp. 151-177). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-481-3.ch010

Vavoula, G.Sharples, M. (2009). Meeting the Challenges in Evaluating Mobile Learning: A 3-level Evaluation Framework. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 1(2), pp. 54-75. Download from journal website or view preprint.

Vavoula, G., Sharples, M. (2009). Lifelong Learning Organisers: Requirements for tools for supporting episodic and semantic learning. To appear in Educational Technology & Society, 12(3), pp. 82-97. (special issue on 'Technology support for self-organised learners') View on journal website.

Vavoula, G., Sharples, M., Rudman, P., Meek, J., and Lonsdale, P. (2009). Myartspace: Design and evaluation of support for learning with multimedia phones between classrooms and museums. Computers & Education, 53(2), pp. 286-299. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2009.02.007. Download from ScienceDirect or view preprint.

Kukulska-Hulme, A., Sharples, M., Milrad, M., Arnedillo-Sanchez, I., and Vavoula, G. (2009). Innovation in Mobile Learning: a European Perspective. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 1(1), pp. 13-35. Download from journal website or view preprint.

Vavoula, G., Pachler, N., and Kukulska-Hulme, A. (Eds.) (2009). Researching Mobile Learning: Frameworks, methods and research designs
Peter Lang.

Vavoula, G. (2009). Issues and requirements for mobile learning research. In Vavoula, G., Pachler, N., and Kukulska-Hulme, A. (Eds.), Researching Mobile Learning: Frameworks, methods and research designs. Oxford: Peter Lang Publishing Group.

Sharples M., Milrad M., Arnedillo Sánchez I., Vavoula G. (2009). Mobile Learning: Small devices, Big Issues. In Balacheff, N.,  Ludvigsen, S., de Jong, T.,  Lazonder, A., Barnes, S. & Montandon, L. (Eds) Technology Enhanced Learning: Principles and Products. Springer, pp. 233-249. Online version available from Springer.

Rudman P.D., Sharples M., Vavoula G.N., Lonsdale P., Meek J. (2008). Cross-context learning. In L. Tallon & K.Walker (ed.) Digital Technologies and the Museum Experience: Handheld guides and other media. Lanham, MD: Alta Mira Press.

Vavoula, G.N., and Sharples, M. (2007). Future Technology Workshop: a collaborative method for the design of new learning technologies and activities. International Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, 2(4), pp. 393-419. Download the original publication from www.springerlink.com or view preprint.

Vavoula, G.N., Sharples, M., Rudman, P., Lonsdale, P., and Meek, J. (2007). Learning Bridges: a role for mobile learning in education. Educational Technology Magazine special issue on 'Highly mobile computing', XLVII(3), pp. 33-36. View preprint.

Sharples, M., Taylor, J., Vavoula, G.N. (2007). A Theory of Learning for the Mobile Age. In Andrews, R., & Haythornthwaite, C. (Eds.) The SAGE Handbook of E-learning Research. London: Sage, pp. 221-47.

Taylor, J., Sharples, M., O’Malley, C., Vavoula, G., Waycott, J. (2006). Towards a Task Model for Mobile Learning: a Dialectical Approach. International Journal of Learning Technology, 2(2/3), pp. 138-158. doi:10.1504/IJLT.2006.010616 Download from INDERSCIENCE or view preprint.

Vavoula, G.N., Scanlon, E., Lonsdale, P., Sharples, M., Jones, A. (2005). Literature Review of Mobile Learning in Informal Science Settings. Kaleidoscope JEIRP deliverable D33.2.

Naismith, L., Lonsdale, P., Vavoula, G., Sharples, M. (2004). Mobile Technologies and Learning. NESTA Futurelab Literature Review Series, Report No 11.

Vavoula, G. (2004). KLeOS: A Knowledge and Learning Organisation System in Support of Lifelong Learning. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Birmingham, UK.

Vavoula, G.N., and Sharples, M. (2002). KLeOS: A personal, mobile, Knowledge and Learning Organisation System. In Milrad, M., Hoppe, U. Kinshuk (eds.) In Proceedings of the IEEE International Workshop on Mobile and Wireless Technologies in Education (WMTE2002), Aug 29-30, Vaxjo, Sweden, pp 152-156.

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Dr Giasemi Vavoula

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