Monday, October 25, 2010

Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians

ACRL released a report in June titled, “Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Higher Education in 2025.” The goal of the report is "to prompt academic librarians to consider what trends may impact the future of higher education in order to take strategic action now." As a librarian/educator, I wholeheartedly agree that watching trends that may impact our future is important, and I was glad to see this report.

A variety of themes are covered in the report and 26 futuristic scenarios are presented. A survey instrument was developed for the purpose of measuring the probability of a scenario, impact (if the scenario were to occur), speed, and whether a scenario represents a threat or opportunity to academic libraries (for the record, I see most change as an opportunity for academic libraries, just not always business as usual).

One of the four scenarios rated as highest in probability, impact and speed is a scenario titled “Right here with me.” In this scenario students use their handheld devices in almost magical ways. The devices sense information, processes are automated, and more. Reading this reminded me of two newer technologies being used in the US, QR codes and augmented reality, which can seem a bit magical as well. These technologies provide access to information on mobile devices without keying in terms to search.

I’ve been following mobile technology trends for some time (see my first mobile test blog using a simple Motorola RAZR phone and $5. data plan) and I’m a strong believer that the digital revolution we're experiencing will be increasingly mobile. Though I'm uncertain of all that will evolve with mobile technologies in the next 5-15 years, QR codes and augmented reality are two mobile technologies that could have a strong impact in libraries and higher education. In the case of QR codes, I think sooner rather than later as early adopters in the U.S. are currently exploring and implementing this technology in their libraries, on campus, and beyond.

This week I'll attend the ACRL-Oregon & Washington Fall Conference 2010. The title, "If we knew today what we'll know tomorrow: Futures thinking for academic libraries," has me excited about learning from others who value looking forward.

I'll be presenting a five minute lightening talk at the ACRL OR/WA conference using the presentation below. This slideshow compliments an article, which will be available in the November publication of C&RL News on QR codes and mobile users. (Update: C&RL News article is now available.)
All posts tagged with "QR Codes"
All posts tagged with "augmented reality"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Exploring Augmented Reality Apps on iPhone 4

I've been fascinated by augmented reality (AR) for a while and have posted in the past (scroll) on this technology as it relates to education. Many feel the potential of AR is huge, though for various reasons it will take time to mainstream.

The Gartner's 2010 Hype Cycle shows AR has 5-10 years to mainstream adoption. The 2010 Horizon Report, commonly used by educators to scan the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching and learning, has listed Simple Augmented Reality Time-to-Adoption: Two to Three Years.

I've long had an interest in testing AR but my previous iPhone 3 (not 3GS) did not have the built in technology necessary to use AR. In most cases, handheld devices must have a compass and GPS to be able to use AR. The flickr set below shows examples of AR app tests on my iPhone 4, which I've been running mostly in downtown Portland, Oregon, USA. The set and descriptions can also be viewed on flickr

I'm excited about what I'm learning as I test AR apps in the city. I see challenges after using these apps, but the potential has become more clear as well. I'm also encouraged by the fact that there are smart people working on moving this tech forward. O'Reilly radar recently posted a good article titled "How augmented reality apps can catch on" and there are creative thinkers/innovators in higher education working on practical uses for teaching and learning.

For now, my plan is to keep testing and I hope to soon find someone at my university interested enough to collaborate with me on creating an AR tour of our campus and main library. Seems like a good first step. I've seen a few examples of how a handful of higher ed institutions are beginning to use AR. I'd love to learn of more. Comments are most welcome.