Special Collections using Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching (SCARLET)
Imagine a teacher and a group of students huddled around a Dante manuscript or early printed edition in the Library. The SCARLET project aims to use AR (Augmented Reality) to simultaneously allow students to experience the magic of original materials, whilst enhancing the learning experience by ‘surrounding’ the object with digitised content; images, texts, online learning resources and information on related objects held in the Library and elsewhere.
SCARLET captures and enhances the magical experience of studying first-hand medieval manuscripts, landmark editions and modern literary archives. While viewing an object first-hand, students will use AR markers and/or location-specific triggers to call up supporting materials via mobile devices to help them interrogate, interpret and contextualise the object: to ‘turn the pages’ of a digital facsimile, zooming into details invisible to the naked eye; to hear a text spoken in Middle English; to view online facsimiles of cognate objects in the JRUL and other libraries; to call up metadata; to read secondary literature; and to engage with teaching materials prepared by the tutor.
While digitisation is often a suitable alternative to direct access to Special Collections material, it is essential that students are exposed to original materials during their studies: in order to confront and question the materiality of objects, to be inspired, and to prepare them for solo research. Many tutors recognise that exposing their students to original Special Collections material, even on a limited basis, can spark their enthusiasm for and engagement with wider classroom-based and remotely-taught courses. Yet students are constrained by the fragility and physical nature of the material. SCARLET will bring Special Collections into the age of the app.
The project arose from existing links between Mimas and the JRUL (John Rylands University Library), demand from University of Manchester teachers and students, and the technical expertise within Mimas’ Learning and Teaching team to support this through applying innovative technology. This project will build on previous AR work at Exeter (Unlocking the Hidden Curriculum, 2010) and Bath (QR Codes, Bath 2009).
SCARLET addresses one of the principal obstacles to the use of Special Collections in teaching and learning – the fact that students must consult rare books, manuscripts and archives within the controlled conditions of library study rooms. The material is isolated from the secondary, supporting materials and the growing mass of related digital assets. This is an alien experience for students familiar with an information-rich, connected wireless world, and is a barrier to their use of Special Collections.
The SCARLET project will provide a model that other Special Collections libraries can follow, making these resources accessible for research, teaching and learning.
Anticipated Outputs and Outcomes
- Suite of fully-developed AR applications demonstrating the potential for using AR to enhance the learning experience within Special Collections libraries, across a range for disciplines and formats.
- Tool-kit to enable teachers and librarians to construct their own tailored AR applications within the context of Special Collections, adapting the University of Exeter’s (From ‘Unlocking the Hidden Curriculum’ project) toolkit.
- Online workbook, disseminating the lessons learnt and advocating the benefits of AR for teaching and learning within Special Collections.
- A project blog.
- YouTube videos demonstrating AR’s potential to enhance learning within Special Collections, from a student and academic perspective.
Laura Shaw, University of Manchester, Mimas, 0161 275 6079, email@example.com
Jo Lambert, University of Manchester, Mimas, 0161 275 8333, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Jackie Carter, University of Manchester, Mimas, 0161 275 6725, email@example.com
Matthew Ramirez, University of Manchester, Mimas, 0161 275 0610, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Hodgson, University of Manchester, The John Rylands University Library, 0161 275 8741, email@example.com
Andy Land, University of Manchester, The John Rylands University Library, 0161 275 8711, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Guyda Armstrong, School of Languages, Linguistics & Cultures, 0161 27 53208, Guyda.Armstrong@manchester.ac.uk
Dr Roberta Mazza, School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, 0161 275-3398, email@example.com Dr. Jerome De Groot
, School of Arts, Histories & Cultures, 0161 275 3170, Jerome.Degroot@manchester.ac.uk