SCARLET+ ‘What has it got in its Pockets-es?’ – introducing Augmented Reality to students without getting them lost in the dark.

I have to report that my first attempt to introduce the ‘Voices In Your Pocket’ app. to University of Sussex students was less than a roaring success.

Scarlet+ Voices In Your Pocket in a boxAt the end of November I packed an archive box with three iPads and folders containing print-outs of the trigger image and basic how-to-instructions and took it into an MA History seminar on the 1980s.

From our experience of talking about and demonstrating AR with colleagues, both the tutor, our Scarlet+ academic Dr. Lucy Robinson and I had expected a fairly high level of enthusiasm in the technology itself. This did not turn out to be the case. Most of the group were hesitant about even picking up the iPads, commenting that they were not used to ‘being given toys’ and ‘would rather just have the originals’. The instructions I had provided proved to be inadequate; I had kept them simple as I had assumed there would be a certain level of knowledge and confidence amongst the majority of the students. The fact that this was not the target group, and that the app was not complete cannot have helped, either.

SCARLET User DemoHaving looked back at Matt Ramirez’s glorious hand-outs from Scarlet’s Dante project, I can see that the step-by-step instruction diagram style he used would have suited this group far better and I will be performing a complete overhaul of my instructions.

It was difficult to gauge the level of interest in the material itself as the group was not forthcoming with their comments. The advice I had been given was not to structure the session too much and to listen to comments as they came, but with such a quiet group having some sort of written feedback form ready to hand out might have given them an alternative outlet and produced better results. Setting them a simple task or asking them a question at the start might also help with engagement, so I will be looking into this.

The false-security-blanket that the enthusiasm and technical know-how of library and archive staff had given me has been pulled away. I have much work to do on how the ‘Voices In Your Pocket’ Augmented Reality app is presented to students, starting with returning to the training pages on the Scarlet Toolkit.

3 thoughts on “SCARLET+ ‘What has it got in its Pockets-es?’ – introducing Augmented Reality to students without getting them lost in the dark.

  1. mtgwork

    Dear Rose, Thank you for another really useful blog post. It is refreshing in its honesty and for that reason will no doubt help others engaging students with AR (such as us!). I also have to empathise and say that in the past when presenting new technology to students (at different institutions – not just UCA) I have found the basics to be the stumbling blocks e.g. like getting students logged into their email accounts and using a Web browser! I have also been thinking about the clarity of the instructions so perhaps we can compare notes!

  2. roselock

    Thanks Marie-Therese; it is nice to know it is not just me!
    I just had a very interesting conversation with our Special Collections Manager, Fiona Courage, who pointed out that we have this very same problem when introducing archive material to groups for the first time. It seems to take a while for a new form of material to be understood as a ‘different’ thing, not just a new format for the same content. She suggests the questions we ask when introducing Scarlet+ are the key…
    I would love to compare instructions with you; thanks ever so much for the offer.

  3. Matt Ramirez

    Rose, this is a great post and shows how not all students seem to embrace new technology. I noticed that in our focus groups, post-graduate students in particular appeared to be less enthused, perhaps this was because they were more institutionalised and used to traditional learning and support having been in higher education for longer than undergraduates.


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