The SCARLET team from Mimas attended a dazzling award ceremony, held on 28th November in London, hosted by comedian, writer, TV presenter, Sandi Toksvig.
The Mimas-led Team SCARLET project was shortlisted for the Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards, for their Augmented Reality (AR) initiative – providing innovation to education through the use of mobile technology to bring special collections to life.
The awards, now in their ninth year, recognises and celebrates the best of the academic sector in both teaching and research, and is hotly contested. To be shortlisted is an honour and a great achievement.
Dr Jackie Carter said:
We were thrilled to be shortlisted for the THE ICT Outstanding Initiative of the Year award. The SCARLET Team have taken the original idea, of using augmented reality to bring objects to life in university teaching, to new limits. We trialled the approach with early printed books and Greek papyri, firmly embedding this in teaching with pedagogy, not technology, always the driver. The team built on this working with many other groups, within and beyond Manchester, including the Mass Observation project, the University for the Creative Arts, geology field trips in the Peak District, medical equipment and now on a multi-partner project called ‘AR in the City‘. The success of this small team is nothing short of phenomenal.
In the beginning
With the University’s strategic plan to provide an ’outstanding learning and student experience’ in mind; and a spark of imagination and initiative from Mimas’ now lead AR developer, Matt Ramirez – SCARLET was borne. The project provided students the chance to immerse themselves in the fascinating world of rare and fragile objects, using AR to discover supplementary information and unlock once hidden information surrounding the objects . By focusing on teaching, not the technology, the team continues to deliver many new AR projects across many disciplines, which has grown from the initial collaboration and experiences from the original project between Mimas, The John Rylands Library, learning technologists and the academic community at the University of Manchester.
Professor Richard Reece, Associate Vice President, University of Manchester said:
One of the central goals of The University of Manchester’s strategic plan is to ensure access for all students to an outstanding learning and student experience. The augmented reality project initially set out to enable large numbers of students, at any stage of their careers, to interact with and fully appreciate delicate and precious academic materials that would otherwise be locked behind display cases or available to very few. As a ‘proof of concept’ SCARLET has been enormously successful. The rich variety of materials that can be “tagged” onto objects allows students to be able to immerse themselves in the object and its relevance in ways which would have been previously unimaginable. The spread of the technology from the classics to almost all aspects of academic endeavour are clear marker of this success. Feedback from students and staff regarding the project has been outstanding, and the initiative forms a key component of our commitment to provide the best possible environments for learning at The University of Manchester.
3rd-year Advanced Greek students provide an example of positive feedback on the AR app developed for the St John Fragment, the most famous piece of Egyptian papyrus in the library:
It’s better than passing the book around where you can’t spend much time looking at it as you have to give it to someone else.
It can give us the ability to move forward and enhance active learning, helps to approach the content in more depth.
Keith Cole, Director of Mimas, University of Manchester said:
The SCARLET project is an exemplar of what can be achieved by applying new technologies such as augmented reality to support innovative digital learning and to improve the student experience.
One of the real successes of the project was the development of a successful mixed team approach of academics, students, librarians and technologists working together in a synergistic way to develop an application that was in line with student expectations about technology enhanced learning that inspires.
The SCARLET project has enabled Mimas to develop a national reputation for the application of AR to support digitally enhanced learning which is line with the Mimas mission to turn advances in technology into real value for the UK academic community.
Many congratulations to everyone from the university in achieving this accolade. A full list of winners can be found at the THE website, which we are pleased to say includes the University of Manchester who took first place in the category: OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO THE LOCAL COMMUNITY for ‘The Works’. Tweets from the event can be viewed using #THEawards
Further videos about the SCARLET project, and just some of the latest projects can be seen at: https://teamscarlet.wordpress.com/showcase