In the spring of 2013, Harmony Institute (HI) and Reboot Stories collaborated on the creation of a data-driven participatory story, entitled My Sky is Falling (MSiF). The goal of the story was to immerse participants in the experiences of a child as she makes her way through the US foster care system. The story is based on the real lives of former foster care children and was designed with advocates from the Orange Duffel Bag Initiative, including filmmaker Lydia Joyner. HI's evaluation goal for the project was to understand the impact of this immersive approach to narrative by assessing changes in the story’s participants. These changes included comprehension of the social issue, shifts in attitude and empathy, and responses such as donations to the foster care community.
HI researchers drew on a multitude of methods to evaluate the impact of MSiF on participants. This included incorporating qualitative data collection points into the narrative, utilizing bio-sensors to collect quantitative engagement data from individual participants, and adapting survey techniques to measure how participants’ immersion in the narrative affected their understanding of foster care.
In this report HI researchers explore the ways in which integrating data collection and evaluation into the development of immersive platforms can benefit purposeful, participatory storytelling practices. HI discusses the challenges of this type of media work and present a toolkit of research and design methods for creating and evaluating an immersive, narrative experience. The full report is available for download. Any questions and inquiries can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.