Case Study UCA

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SCARLET+ University for the Creative Arts

The Crafts Study Centre (CSC), a university museum and research centre of the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), has worked with Team SCARLET from The University of Manchester to pilot augmented reality (AR) in education. The JISC funded SCARLET+ project (2012-13) carries on from the previous SCARLET project (2011-12) which resulted in the creation of this toolkit.

What is augmented reality (AR)?

In a nutshell AR is a computer graphics overlay on top of a live view of the real world. For more information and examples go to: Introduction to AR

The following Prezi contains a short introduction to AR given to second year students in January 2013.

Why AR in education?

For the CSC using AR has been a way to encourage UCA students to engage with the collections. AR has been used to provide additional information about objects in the collection and to build layers of relationships between objects and their interpretation. Through project funding the CSC has been able to purchase two iPads for use by students without access to a suitable device to view the AR apps. Student feedback has suggested that access to the devices would also encourage them to visit the CSC.

Pedagogy before technology

Crucial to the success of the project has been working with an academic to ensure that the AR relates to teaching and is not simply about the technology on its own. The project's Academic Lead has been Adrian Bland, Contextual Studies Co-ordinator, School of Media and Culture, UCA. He has worked closely with the Institutional Lead, Jean Vacher, Curator, and the Educational Technologist, Marie-Therese Gramstadt. These conversations resulted in the first AR app which used the concept of AR as a portal to another world, with links to specific areas of student interest. The second AR app was a re-thinking of how AR could be useful to a specific group of students and was based around a single object and related to a specific essay question. This second app will continue to be used by Adrian following the end of this project (April 2013).

The first SCARLET+ workshop at the University resulted in a trio of blog posts, including these thoughts from a lecturer new to AR.

Pitfalls to watch out for

In the future it is likely to be less of an issue, however at the time of writing (March 2013) some of the pitfalls experienced include: lack of understanding about QR codes and AR; lack of the proper device to access AR; lack of a robust WiFi connection.

QR codes versus AR

One of the hurdles with explaining the concept of GLUE-based AR, to both staff and students, has been the need for a QR code to access the specific AR channel.

Although QR codes have been around for a long time, are commonly seen in advertising to link to Web-based content, and are also usable via a wide range of mobile devices; there was still a lack of understanding about the difference between the QR code and the AR content itself.

Having a QR code makes accessing the AR content from the specific channel much faster and easier, however the code also provides a distraction from handling the real world object.

Devices

One of the challenges with AR is the need for suitable devices to view the digital content. This has been an important consideration as many staff and students do not own the required devices themselves. At the beginning of the project it was also not possible to loan suitable devices through UCA, but now additional devices are available on loan for projects through the IT department.

WiFi and FTP

The process of both using and creating an AR app requires a strong WiFi Internet connection in order to use the appropriate tablet or mobile devices. This was a challenge in some parts of the Crafts Study Centre whilst developing the app, however with the help of the IT department this was resolved and an additional WiFi receiver installed.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) access is required whilst developing an AR app as there are many minor edits required to the files on the live Web server. However in terms of the requirements for setting up the AR channel the actual size of the folder on a live server is extremely small (about 5MB).

Read more about the technical infrastructure issues in this blog post

Try out the Crafts Study Centre's AR apps

Portal to another world

Through the SCARLET+ project (2012-13) the Crafts Study Centre have been supported by The University of Manchester to produce an AR app. This can be viewed by scanning the QR code with the Junaio AR browser and then hovering your device over the image of The Little Gallery.

  1. check you have a suitable device with WiFi connection
  2. install the free Junaio app
  3. open the Junaio app on your device and click the 'scan' logo top right of the screen
  4. scan the following QR code to access our AR channel: JunaioQRLogo 140106.png
  5. then hover your device over the image of the interior of The Little Gallery to see the AR content:
    (thumbnail)
    Image of the interior of The Little Gallery. Copyright: Crafts Study Centre 2013.
  6. Your device should show content similar to this screenshot:
    (thumbnail)
    Image of AR content displaying on an iPad screen. Copyright: Crafts Study Centre 2013.
















Read a blog post about demoing this app to 2nd year students

Watch the user journey for the 2nd AR app

This short video shows the features of the 2nd AR app that was developed for 2nd year Contextual Studies students at University for the Creative Arts. It can be accessed from the same QR code as above and is triggered from a single real life object - a wooden dish by David Pye.

Read a blog post about demoing this app to 2nd year students

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