Dr Giasemi Vavoula

Associate Professor

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

Personal details

  • Director of Research
  • Deputy Head of School

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 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:

  • the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO Strategic Basic Research programme)
  • the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (Innovative Research Incentives Scheme Veni)
  • the Croatian Agency for Science and Higher Education (Centres for Excellence in Science)
  • the European Research Council (ERC)
  • the EU Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions


I teach on the School’s campus-based MA in Museum Studies ('Engaging Audiences' and 'Becoming Expert - Digital Specialism' modules) and supervise Masters dissertations.

I also contribute to the Distance Learning MA in Socially-Engaged Practice and MA in Museum Studies and organise training in research methods for postgraduate research students.


I supervise PhD research in areas related to digital learning and engagement in museums and in digital exhibition design. 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

Research Fellows / Associates

  • Dr Marco Mason, EU Marie Curie Fellow, MuseCoP4DT project (Jul 2016 - Jun 2018); and DiMe4Heritage project (Oct 2012 - Oct 2015)
  • Dr Maria-Anna Tseliou, Research Associate, Leicester Castle Tells its Story project (Sep 2014 - Sep 2015); and iSay project (Sep 2012 - Mar 2014)
  • Dr Elee Kirk, Research Associate, Full Circle project (Sep 2011 - Mar 2013)

PhD students

First supervisor:

  • Wijitra Suriyakul Na Ayudha (graduated 2018)
  • Chanin Suriyakul Na Ayudha (full time, started Oct 2015, submitted)
  • Zoi Tsiviltidou (part time, started Oct 2014, submitted)
  • Phil Morris (part time, started Oct 2015)
  • Brendon Wilkins (part time, started Oct 2016)
  • Torhild Skatun (part time, started Oct 2016)
  • Simon Atkinson (graduated 2019)

Second supervisor:

  • Stefania Zardini Lacadelli (full time, started Oct 2016)
  • Peter Annhernu (part time, started Oct 2011)
  • Jingyu Peng (full time, started Oct 2015)
  • Blair Moskowitz (part time, started Jan 2016)
  • Jennifer Bergevin (full time, started Jan 2015)
  • Ainul Wahida Radzuan (part time, started Jan 2014)
  • William Clarke (part time, started Oct 2016)
  • Dr Elena Villaespesa (graduated Jul 2016)
  • Dr Kirstin James (graduated Jul 2016)
  • Dr Haitham Eid (graduated Jul 2016)
  • Dr Elee Kirk (graduated Jan 2015)
  • Dr Jeremy Ottevanger (graduated Jul 2013)

Examined PhDs

  • Ariel Liu, University of Oxford (external)
  • Susanna Nordmark, Linnaeus University, Sweden (external, evaluation committee)
  • Laurel Brierly, University of Leicester (internal)
  • Stephanie Bowry, University of Leicester (internal)
  • Afshan Heuer, University of Leicester (internal)
  • Jennie Binie, University of Leicester (internal)
  • Lena Maculan, University of Leicester (internal)


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 and recent projects

Project title: ScienceMINQ: Developing Rapid Inquiry as a pedagogical framework for multimodal interactions in informal science settings
Funding source: EU Marie Curie (Standard Fellowship) 
Short description: This project is firmly situated within the Learning Sciences – the interdisciplinary field that aims to further scientific understanding of learning and engage in the design and implementation of learning innovations; focusing on the area of Informal Science Learning – the study of science learning processes and outcomes in informal settings such as science centres. Bell et al. argue that a key challenge for science centres is to enable their visitors to link their emotional, sensory and cognitive interactions with the exhibits – known as multimodal experiences – to science-specific phenomena. This research aims to utilise the structure provided by inquiry-led scientific investigations to harness the engagement power of multimodal exhibits in science centres. To achieve this aim, we will work with science centre educators, science teachers and young people (aged 12-16) to: co-design a Rapid Inquiry framework; elicit user requirements; co-design interaction components that integrate multimodal interactions with exhibits; develop an Inquirer app and evaluate its impact; and develop a set of technical requirements and pedagogical guidelines that will enable science centres to adopt rapid multimodal inquiry as a pedagogical approach. Partnerships with science centres in the UK, local secondary schools and after-school science clubs will be established to secure maximum practical value and dissemination.
When: Jan 2019 - Dec 2020
Partners: Dr Stamatina Anastopoulou (Marie Curie Fellow), Mr Kevin Yates (National Space Centre)
Role: Principal Investigator / Academic host supervisor


Project title: MuseCoP4DT: Design Thinking for Digital Heritage: Developing Communities of Design Practice for Visitor Experience

Funding source: EU Marie Curie (Reintegration Fellowship) 
Short description: This project is firmly situated within Design Research focusing on the area of Design Thinking for Digital Heritage. It aims to advance Design Research by conducting the first systematic analysis of Design Thinking culture in the particular domain of museums engaged in digital heritage projects. This research takes a qualitative approach to the study of Design Thinking by blending ethnographic methods with suitably adapted methods and concepts from Wenger’s Communities of Practice. Situated at the intersection of different academic fields, this project has an interdisciplinary character and brings different methodologies into dialogue, delivering an original and innovative contribution to existing literatures and enhancing theoretical and practical knowledge in Design Research.
When: Jul 2016 - Jun 2018
Partners: Dr Marco Mason (Marie Curie Fellow), Dr David Scruton (University of Cambridge Museums)
Role: Principal Investigator / Academic host supervisor

Past projects

Project title: Leicester Castle Tells its Story
Funding source: Digital R&D Fund for the Arts
Short description: Leicester Castle Tell's its Story was an R&D project that explored how Bluetooth Beacons can be used to bring to life a historic building that has very little staffing and resource, with much of the building no longer in existence. The project developed a series of beacon-based trails and tours to engage different audiences. Evaluation findings suggest that beacon-based mobile interpretation can positively impact visitor perceptions of learning and enjoyment, as well their perceptions of the site as a learning environment.
When: Sep 2014 - Sep 2015
Academic Partners: Dr Giasemi Vavoula (University of Leicester)
Other Partners: Sally Coleman (Leicester City Council), Rhys Jones (locly)
Role: Academic Partner PI (Project lead: Sally Coleman)

Project title: Affective Digital Histories: Re-creating Britain's De-industrial Places, 1970s to the Present
Funding source: AHRC (Connected Communities Re) 
Short description: The project aims to bring together existing research on historical and heritage sites which have fallen into disuse and/or disrepair following de-industrialisation and that are now undergoing some kind of regeneration by city and local councils. Researchers and community participants will then work closely together to develop a digital archive of open data on the untold stories of the communities that used, worked and played in these buildings. These stories form an important tapestry of information about how certain communities think about, feel and use physical spaces that have undergone regeneration in recent decades. 
When: Oct 2013 - Mar 2015
Academic Partners: Dr Ming Lim (University of Leicester, PI), Dr Corinne Fowler (Co-I), Dr Rebecca Madgin (Co-I), Dr Martin Phillips (Co-I), Mr Nick Higgett (De Montfort University, Co-I)
Other Partners: East Midlands Oral History ArchivePhoenixCuttlefishGlossop Heritage TrustHigh Peak Community Arts
Role: Co-Investigator

Project title: DiMe4Heritage: Digital Media for Heritage - Refocusing design from the technology to the visitor experience
Funding source: EU Marie Curie (International Outgoing Fellowship) 
Short description: A project investigating design theory and practices of digital media for heritage and aiming to deliver conceptual frameworks and methodologies for DiMe4Heritage design through a series of museum design case studies that address contemporary museological issues.
When: Oct 2012 - Sep 2015
Partners: Dr Marco Mason (Marie Curie Fellow), Prof. John Durant (MIT Science, Technology and Society Program and MIT Museum director / Outgoing host supervisor)
Role: Principal Investigator / Return host supervisor

Project title: iSay: Visitor-Generated Content in Heritage Institutions
Funding source: AHRC - Digital Transformations - networking grant (£33,771)
Short description: A project focusing on new models of visitor participation enabled by VGC technologies and issues of moderation, ownership, control, and IPR.
When: Jul 2012 - Dec 2013
Partners: Jenny Kidd (University of Cardiff), The Herbert Museum and Art Gallery, Digital Engagement Network, Art of Memory
Role: Principal Investigator

Project title: Mobiles and the mobilisation of historically interesting home movies
Funding source: CATH (AHRC)
Short description: A pilot project that aims to develop and trial mobile, on-location crowd-sourcing techniques to garner community knowledge about a selection of the Full Circle film collection in the Leicestershire area held by the Media Archive for Central England. As well as enabling an initial scoping of the potential of crowdsourcing to enrich local/regional film archive collections, the project will further enable us to understand how mobile technology might mediate this process through merging content consumption and content generation into a seamless activity. At the same, the project will enable us to chart research questions related to how mobile technology and social media can reinvent local film archives as catalysts for local residents’ sense of place and identity; and conversely, how this technology can convert potential local film archive audiences into actual audiences through new models of participation and engagement.
When: Nov 2013 - Mar 2014
Partners: James Patterson (Media Archive for Central England), Cuttlefish
Role: Principal Investigator

Project title: Full Circle: Local history, community archives and the audiovisual record
Funding source: Heritage Lottery Fund 
Short description: Supporting local history societies, community groups and other organisations to find, identify and use film and video that will be held both locally and at MACE (the Media Archive for Central England) for the benefit of the community. The Full Circle Project aims to have a lasting impact on local communities across the region. By collecting and showing films, the project builds interest in local history and develops a sense of belonging and pride of place in people throughout the Midlands. I am leading the evaluation of the project, together with Elee Kirk.
When: Apr 2010 - Mar 2013
Partners: Dr James Patterson (Media Archive for Central England - PI), Prof. R. Sweet (University of Leicester), Dr S. Horrocks (University of Leicester)
Role: Co-Investigator

Project title: Supporting learning and teaching on study visits with mobile and web-based tools
Funding source: SPLINT CETL Fellowship
Short description: Develop and evaluate tools to support postgraduate teaching and learning on study visits.
When: Jan 2009 - Mar 2010
Role: Principal Investigator

Project title: Myartspace
Funding source: Culture Online
Short description: Mobile technologies to support students' learning during school museum visits. 
When: Jan 2005 - Mar 2007. 
Partners: The Sea, CETADL (University of Birmingham), The Urbis Museum of Urban Life, D-Day museum, The Study Gallery 
Role: Consultant (evaluation)
Outputs: Series of consultancy reports on evaluation of service - see publications.

Project title: Mobile learning tools for children with life-threatening allergies
Funding source: Cadbury Schweppes Foundation
Short description: design and build useful electronic tools to support anaphylactic allergy sufferers 
When: Nov 2006 - Feb 2007.
Partners: Sandra Woolley (University of Birmingham, PI), Mike Sharples (University of Nottingham) 
Role: Consultant 
Outputs: Consultancy report - see publications.

Project title: ReFLEx - Resources for Learning by Exploration
Funding source: the Open University
Short description: semantic browsing technologies to support OU Library users. 
When: May 2006 - Dec 2006 
Partners: Institute of Educational Technologies, OU Library, Knowledge Media Institute - all at the Open University, UK. 
Role: Consultant (requirements analysis)
Outputs: Consultancy report - see publications.

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Dr Giasemi Vavoula

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