The SCARLET Project Survey

As part of the on-going work to evaluate and disseminate the work being done with the SCARLET Project,  we conducted a simple and straightforward survey for Dr. Guyda Armstrong’s 3rd year undergraduates from the pilot course “Beyond the Text: The Book and Its Body” which used the SCARLET app with Special Collections.  The survey was relatively small and was designed as a follow-on from this focus group, which was run with the same students back in November 2011.

Divisions of the Survey:                                     

The survey was broken down into four distinct sections, with multiple questions under each category; in some instances, the same questions were used from the focus group discussion guide:

  • Background

This section sought to discover or confirm whether the students had used mobile technologies prior to taking the course, and whether they had an understanding of what Augmented Reality was before their work with Dr. Armstrong and the SCARLET Team.

  • As we expected, they were very familiar with various mobile technologies, but the majority of them had no real understanding of or experience with AR.
  • Design and Purpose
    • This section looked to understand why the students chose to take a course, which had, as an element, the use of AR with Special Collections
      • All of them said that they were most interested in the content, with only one person saying s/he was interested in the technology
      • Most said that they were also interested in learning more about Special Collections as a primary reason for taking the course.
  • These results are key components relating back to the original idea behind the development of the SCARLET app, which stressed that the technology would remain invisible and that the content would drive the project, not the other way around.
  • Half said that they were interested in learning more about AR, but they did not always recognise its relevance to their field of study.
  • And most felt that the marriage between a Special Collections style course and the technology was suitable and appropriate.
  • Technical
    • All said that they had no trouble at all using the app and the physical environment within the Library allowed it to work properly.
      • This finding was key to our evaluation, in terms of the work done on the technical architecture, which strove to find a platform which would work in a building like the John Rylands Library at Deansgate.
      • The overwhelmingly positive response to how well the app worked confirmed our decision to use of JUNAIO as the most appropriate tool for the framework of the app.
  • Summary
    • The majority said that they were satisfied with the way the technology was used in the delivery of the course, and
  • Most also said that they would recommend a course which uses AR to a friend or colleague

We also gave them an opportunity on the survey to suggest improvements or revisions, and most took the time to feedback to us what they thought; the two primary suggestions included:

  • “There needs to be even more information in the app [than what is currently available], more than the video and the explanation of the project from our tutor.”
  • “There needs to be exclusive content available only on the SCARLET app – things we could not find in Blackboard.”

These two comments, which were echoed by the other students, have fed into the continued development of SCARLET and the toolkit; the current course, which is focused on the oldest fragment of the Gospel of John, does have more information included in the app, which points to and guides students to a greater number of resources, as well as offers a reconstruction of the fragment and an English translation of the text.  Because we are working to make the work available openly, however, there is no way of making the content exclusive.  There needs to be the possibility of sharing content between the VLE and the app easily.

As with the focus groups, the survey, though small, was very encouraging to the SCARLET Team, and the students we have continued to meet in 2012 have directly benefitted from our thinking about this first group’s feedback.   Their main concern remained that they did not want the technology to interfere with the experience of the object, namely those 15th and 16th century editions of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, and that has been our intent in the entire design of the SCARLET app: it is not a project for the sake of those technological aspects; it is one which uses technology to enhance the learning experience, making it much more enquiry-based, and driven by the idea that students do best when they are empowered to learn.

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