Rationale

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Although since the beginning of the Project, it was determined we would put together a toolkit, that only came into being at the very end of the work, since it was then that we could start to reflect on what we had done. As a distinct piece of work, the toolkit is meant to be something which can assist others in creating a project which uses a mobile app and Augmented Reality to enhance the experience of working with a material object. One of the key things to consider when putting together a toolkit for any context, but particularly an educational one, is how you will evaluate the outcomes from the surveys and focus groups. In a workshop, the SCARLET Team used a dialectical approach, initially to put down the key processes we used to evaluate those outputs, and then to imagine you could somehow talk to yourself in the past – the” you” who is just starting to put together an evaluative process – and then to tell your temporal doppelgänger what you need to know to make the process as easy as possible.

Reflecting on what is ostensibly a dialectic, what surfaced was the intuitive way we all worked and the difficulties involved in trying to reify those efforts into something usable to another. We recalled that in working toward some sort of cohesive evaluative process for a project like SCARLET, it’s important to determine methods for making sense of how the project has developed, targeting key success factors and ideas for improvement. There are a number of ways of doing just that, outside of more formal, academic assessment, which doesn’t necessarily point to the factors which might influence take-up of a particular project or pedagogical enterprise. In addition, the evaluative process needs to be one which works toward accessing audience views before and after the experience of the project. Initial surveys and focus groups were determined to be the best way for evaluation and were used in order to get an idea of what students knew about Augmented Reality and other technologies before, during, and after.

It is important to note that not every factor in the evaluation process has significant risks, but it is important to consider what risks there are prior to embarking on any kind of project. It would seem obvious, but the toolkit is meant to emphasise any of the steps necessary to move toward completion. It also maps nicely back to a general bid-writing process, which also has to consider potential risks and pitfalls.

In the end, we believe that the project is valuable and significant, responding to the Horizon Report’s call to watch AR as a pivotal technology in the coming years (2010). We have produced something which uses technology to enhance the experience of working with a material object, AND which importantly does not replace or get in the way of that experience -- and most students felt that the use of AR with Special Collections was, indeed, valuable to their experiences with the texts in Special Collections.

Moving forward, the development of this toolkit has also directly benefitted from the additional courses run as part of the project, where the students have exhibited a great deal of interest and enthusiasm for the content and the means of delivery. If as Confucius said that “success depends upon previous preparation”, this toolkit promises to be a useful and compelling aid in the creation of future projects involving Augmented Reality in a variety of places and contexts.

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