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Digital Creativity: a Practical Guide

Creative outputs

A practical guide to getting digitally creative and using digital tools and technologies to explore work, ideas, and research.

Creative outputs

There are many ways to use digital creativity as an output of research. There are lots of creative approaches you can take to disseminate and showcase your findings. We've gathered some case studies from York and beyond to show what's possible and hopefully inspire you!

Virtual Reality (VR) and immersive technology

Immersive technologies can be used in a variety of creative ways within research. There are projects where VR has been used to provide access to places or activities, such as viewing art collections in a museum across the world or taking part in group singing from a mountain top. VR technology can be used to safely explore scenarios and research health interventions, as well as delivery of training. XR, AR and VR have cultural applications too - allowing audiences to be immersed in a performance or helping people understand what life might have been like in the past. 

Viking VR headset

Viking VR headset from a project led by the Centre for Digital Heritage (Credit: Chris Streek, York Museum Trust)

Examples of immersive projects

Sing from your seat (UoY)
This project uses immersive technology so that individuals can participate in a group singing event on a Lake District mountain summit from the comfort of their own home - using virtual reality.

Digital Narratives for Archaeology and Heritage project (UoY)
A major output of the DiNAR project was a virtual reality component for the 'Viking: Rediscover the Legend exhibition' at the Yorkshire Museum (2017). Through cinematic VR, museum visitors were able to experience immersive vignettes of life in the camp of a Viking Great Army.

Absent Sitters (UoY/external)
The Absent Sitters project involved a collaboration between XR Stories researchers and York Mediale. The result was a digitally abstracted online audiovisual experience.

Bringing culture to a global audience online (external)
The British Council discuss how online initiatives, such as the Google Art Project, have helped make high-quality artworks available online, allowing anyone, anywhere to experience visual culture.

IoPPN Virtual Reality Research Lab (external)
The IoPPN Virtual Reality Research Lab at King's College uses VR to support research, assessment and treatments for mental health.

Using AI

Artificial intelligence brings a lot of possibilities in terms of research and creativity, but also limitations. Take a look at some of the examples of the use of AI in research and see the AI generation page for more on tools available and the ethical issues surrounding them.

AI zooming in on an image of a plant

Image by Alan Warburton / © BBC / Better Images of AI / Plant / CC-BY 4.0

AI-related projects

The AI Song Content
A team involving researchers from the Department of Music created a song using AI for this global competition. Concerto for AI by AI (UoY)

Concerto for AI by AI (UoY)
A generative music system based on machine learning combining symbolic and audio data with physiological measurements of an audience listening to contemporary music. One of the generated compositions was premiered in a broadcast by BBC Radio 3, Hear and Now.

Creative AI Lab database (external)
This is an ongoing database project to collate tools and resources for artists, engineers, curators and researchers interested in incorporating machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence into their practice.

Using audio

Audio can be used to recreate environments and situations of the past, and educate listeners in an immersive way. Soundwalks, audio tours and virtual soundscapes are great digitally creative ways to do this.

Image of two people on an audio tour - image from the EMOTIVE project

Image of an audio tour from the EU-funded EMOTIVE project (Department of Archaeology)

Examples of creative audio projects

York Death & Culture Walk (UoY)
The York Death & Culture Walk (DaCWalk) is an interdisciplinary research project and pedagogical tool developed by DaCNet. The self-guided walking tour uses a mix of audio files and map content, to inspire, provoke conversation and provide insight and knowledge into death as a cultural matter.

Virtual soundscapes of the York Mystery Plays (UoY)
Go back in time and experience the sounds of York's Mystery Plays with this virtual soundscape interface.

CONFLUX is site-responsive audio, designed to be heard in and around the site that inspired it, using headphones and accessed via an app. It starts on Piccadilly in the centre of York and finishes a short distance away, near Clifford’s Tower.

Peace Wall Belfast Soundwalks (external)
Georgios Varoutsos (Queen's University, Belfast) explored the Belfast Peace Wall and the community's relationship with it, using sound recordings and interviews. He created a binaural immersive experience using soundscapes as one of the outputs of his research.


Podcasts can help you share information or research in a creative way, especially if you incorporate elements of a project such as sound or music. You can simply use them as an output to share your work and connect with others in the same field or you can use your research to inform the content of them eg sleep sounds.

A student and academic recording a podcast in the URY studio

Amy, an undergraduate, interviews Dr Ruth Penfold-Mounce (Sociology) about her research for a podcast

Some podcasts involving UoY research

My Dog’s Favourite Podcast (UoY) Findings from the ‘Who’s A Good Boy’ study (Psychology) which explored the role of human voices in stimulating animal behaviour, informed the development of this podcast. 'My Dog’s Favourite Podcast' is designed to encourage pet dogs to relax through calming gentle praise and story-like speech accompanied by original music and gentle ambient sounds.

Choral Chihuahua (UoY/external) Choral Chihuahua is a podcast series in which three British choral directors (including Robert Hollingworth from the Department of Music) chat about things that matter to them: composers they love, choral technique, choral works, and the groups and singers they admire. This is an example of how you can use a podcast to share your research or interests with a general audience.

Podcasts from the bagne (UoY/external) This podcast is part of the Postcards from the bagne research project. Ayshka Lucy Sene (Sociology) and collaborator, Sophie Fuggle (Nottingham) use this digital tool to share and discuss findings from their research.

Videos, animations and documentary

Visual media can be one of the easiest or most complex outputs. Using a more traditional video format, you could create a series of interviews or a documentary to share stories and experiences. Animations may require additional creative tools and support but are a good way to share research in a publicly accessible way - either with images, text and audio (like a slide show), or through cartoon or character animation.

My Home is Not My Home project - behind the scenes

My Home is Not My Home project (Management School) - behind the scenes

Some examples of different video outputs

My Home is Not My Home (UoY) Dr Joyce Jiang worked with the Voice of Domestic Workers charity and a filmmaker to deliver video workshops with participants. Video was used as a medium for people to share their experiences and stories. The resulting output was a film alongside a physical exhibition. The project is a good example of using media content to enhance data collection and share findings.

Black Snow (UoY) Professor Stephen Linstead (Management School) developed a documentary about the worst industrial disaster of the 19th century in order to share his research data in a creative way with a global audience.

Diversity and inclusion in the videogame industry (UoY) Dr Anna Ozimek used animated video to share the steps they took within their research in order to engage with the videogame industry.

Industry Voices (UoY) Industry Voices is a research project and campaign from the Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN), created in collaboration with Candour Productions. The series shares the stories of individuals who have experienced discrimination and challenges in the screen industries.

What's up with everyone? (animation - external) Academics partnered with Aardman to launch the What’s Up With Everyone? mental health campaign, funded by the AHRC. The campaign translates research into accessible content in the form of five evidence-based animated stories that discuss life’s challenges, alongside a companion website.

Digital exhibitions and collections

An online gallery or exhibition is an easy way to share a collection of artwork, artefacts or project contributions. Website tools such as Wordpress or Google Site have a variety of templates available. If you don't want to create a full site, you could also use Google Slides to produce and embed a gallery of content within a page. Another really easy and free way to create an online exhibit is using social media.

Digital Museum of Dress Accessories - screenshot of gallery

Screenshot of the Digital Museum of Dress Accessories  - a project involving researchers from the Department of History of Art and Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

Examples of Digital exhibitions and collections

Voices from the Amazon (UoY)
The Human Rights Defender Hub at CAHR used Emaze slides in a creative way by creating an online exhibition to showcase the experiences of Indigenous groups in the Amazon during the pandemic. Survival strategies and the groups' struggle against the destruction of their environment are told through paintings and film.

Digital Museum of Dress Accessories (UoY)
The DMDA team are sharing museum objects from the 18th to mid-20th century that are rarely exhibited or photographed through galleries in an online museum. The website features a mix of text, pictures and videos. This is an example of how Wordpress can be used to create an interactive exhibit.

Covid-19 Storytelling (UoY)
The University community were invited to share their stories of the Covid-19 pandemic in a creative way through art, photography, music, film or poetry. The project team collated submissions for an online gallery which they created using Google Sites.

Museum of Lost Memories (external)
The Museum of Lost Memories focuses on sharing, preserving and returning lost photos, videos and other memories. It's a good example how social media can be used to create online collections and galleries of visual media. This popular project has more than 800k followers on TikTok and over 490k on Instagram.

Using data in creative ways

As well as displaying data in a creative way through an infographic, app or website, it's possible to use data sources creatively to discover new information or carry out different analyses.

Discover Music app - data visualisation result

Export from 'Discover Music' software developed by researchers from the Department of Music

Projects which have used data in creative ways

Discover Music (UoY)
Discover Music is a way to find new music makers, or rediscover music makers. When you input an artist, the query runs against several web APIs to gather information about the music maker. Results are analysed to determine who the music maker is influenced by or has a connection with. The results form a directed graph, which is visualised for a user to explore, and build on with further search queries.

Listening in lockdown (UoY)
The Digital Creativity Labs and the Department of Music explored data from over 25,000 Spotify playlists to gain an insight into the ways in which listening was used during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an example of accessing already existent and available digital data sources in a creative way in order to carry out new research.

Weavr (UoY)

Weavr is a technology platform developed by DC Labs. It uses live and historic data to create meaningful and personalised mixed-reality experiences for esports fans.

Digital resources, interfaces and toolkits

We can use digital technologies creatively to improve situations or solve problems. Findings from research can be used to help inform digital toolkits, resources and interfaces to support and educate. It could be as simple as a YouTube channel featuring videos to help new parents, or an interface that provides a digital version of a test to help practitioners screen for medical conditions.

Image of children taking part in research - EMOTIVE project

Image of an educational tool from the EU-funded EMOTIVE project (Department of Archaeology)

Examples of digital resources, toolkits and interfaces

One of the aims of the EMOTIVE project was to support the heritage industry in developing creative experiences and narratives in order to tell stories about cultural sites. The outputs of the research included prototype tools and applications for heritage professionals and visitor, in order to help them produce interactive, personalised, emotionally resonant digital experiences for museums and cultural sites.

The Four Mountains Test (UoY)
The Four Mountains Test, was developed at UCL and the University of York. It is a simple test of our ability to recognise places and imagine them from alternative viewpoints. In particular it's of use for research and diagnosis of Alzheimer's. This is an example of researchers developing a creative digital tool which can be used by others working in the field.

digiDAD (YouTube channel - external)
DigiDAD is an online E-Learning platform which has been created as a result of peer research within the Following Young Fathers Further study. Digitally creative outputs from the project include the DigiDAD YouTube channel and podcast - with peer created content to support young fathers.

WithYou (external)
WithYou is a free service that was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is designed to support isolated patients and care home residents, enabling their friends and family to collaborate on a playlist of voicenotes and music which is sent to the hospital or home.

Apps and games

Apps and games are more challenging to create, but with the right support and teams involved they can be great outputs of research projects, and help to make findings more accessible to the general population. Apps can be used as part of the data collection process, as an intended output or as a way to disseminate work.

Still from the Fight Your Fears game

An image from the 'Fight Your Fears' game, developed by DC Labs and Health Sciences

Apps and games - some examples

Babble Play (UoY)
This app was developed by a team of researchers developed this app who were interested in voice and speech, in particular, how producing sounds prepares babies for starting to talk. It is hoped that through interaction with the app, the baby may vocalise more and practise sounds. As well as a tool for research, it allows a parent to keep track of developmental milestones.

Fight Your Fears (UoY)
The mobile game was created as part of the DIG4IT project, led by Dr Lina Gega (Health Sciences. Software engineers at DC Labs developed the game, which teaches graded exposure therapy to children and young people with phobias.

reTelling Tang Hall (UoY/external)
Claire Boardman (DC Labs) carried out heritage research with the community of Tang Hall. As a result participants were inspired to create a 'Discover Tang Hall' app and continued their own extensive research to reveal some of the hidden stories that form part of Tang Hall's rich cultural and natural heritage.

Online puzzle escape room (UoY)
The Department of Biology's digital event interns created an online puzzle escape room to engage with prospective undergraduate students. Each room is accessible via pdf and the idea is to go through each, solving them one by one. The pdfs are hosted on the website. It's a good example of putting digital creativity into practice without having to do anything complicated.