Unpacking My Library: The Book in Augmented Reality

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This semester, students in Professor Andrew Rippeon’s “Unpacking My Library: The Book, The Burke, and the 20th Century” (Literature & Creative Writing) are introduced to the history and practice of the book in a long arc from the pre-Gutenberg era into the present.

With a focus on the 20th century, Rippeon’s students consider “the book” and “the library” as literary, theoretical, and material engagements: what does it mean to curate a library? How do technological developments bear upon information? How do authors and artists respond to these questions? Over the semester, and in addition to reading in these contexts and to writing their own original critical essays, students make letterpressed broadsides and books, curate micro-libraries, and produce (as a hard-copy book) an anthology of their writing.

Students put the finishing touches on a book making project.
Above: Students put the finishing touches on a book making project.

Top: Prof. Andrew Rippeon demonstrates setting type to a group of students.

In this iteration of the course, students will create their own charged technological context for the book: how does an augmented-reality book further pressurize the context we’re discussing? Students will use 3D technologies (3D printing and the Sprout Pro learning station), and augmented reality applications to produce a book that has a much broader material-technological footprint, at once engaging with and commenting upon the status of the book in the 21st century. We intend to produce an augmented-reality book that documents its own context and production.

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Active and Engaged Reading – Survey on practices for teaching reading across the disciplines

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UPDATE: Findings from the reading survey will be shared by Profs. Ron Patkus and Susan Zlotnick at the 2017 consortium-wide workshop at Vassar College.

Project Background: Throughout the liberal arts curriculum, there are numerous ways, old and new, that reading skills and related habits of mind are taught.  A rapidly evolving technology landscape is also shaping the student experience. To help document emerging pedagogies for reading, LACOL’s Active and Engaged Reading working group is embarking on an survey of faculty and academic staff across the disciplines at our member institutions. The survey tool was developed jointly by the AER project team with guidance from the Institutional and Educational Research offices of participating colleges.

The purpose of the survey is to gather insights into how our faculty cultivate various reading skills and practices for students at all levels of the curriculum, with a particular focus on the digital dimension.  Results of this survey will be used to inform Active and Engaged Reading working group projects, including a collaborative thought piece on reading for the liberal arts in a digital age.

Instructions: The survey consists of several short answer questions and may take 15-30 minutes to complete, depending on the level of detail you can share.  Your input is invaluable to the project.  Thank you for your time!

 

 

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Active and Engaged Reading – kicking off two projects for 2016/2017

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Ron Patkus, Associate Director of the Libraries for Special Collections and Adjunct Associate Professor of History. Taken for the Vassar Quarterly (VQ) Winter 2015 story "Distracted Reading in the Digital Age," December 2015
Ron Patkus, Vassar College

LACOL’s Active and Engaged Reading (AER) working group focuses on issues of reading in a digital age, including the goals and practices for academic reading as they evolve on our campuses.

To advance their shared inquiries, AER is launching two initiatives this year: a multi-campus survey on the teaching of reading, to be followed by a thought piece that reflects on reading-related challenges and opportunities for liberal arts educators and students.  A team of faculty, librarians and technologist from member campuses will collaborate on both projects, with coordination from AER’s co-leads, Ron Patkus, Associate Director of the Libraries for Special Collections and Adjunct Associate Professor of History at Vassar College (pictured at right) and hari stephen kumar, Instructional Designer and Associate Director of the Learning Collaborative at Amherst College.  (See a talk from kumar at LACOL2016.)

Multi-campus survey of teaching practices for reading across the curriculum

Throughout the liberal arts curriculum, there are numerous ways, old and new, that reading skills and related habits of mind are taught. To help document emerging pedagogies for reading, AER is embarking on an survey of selected faculty and staff across the disciplines at our member institutions. The survey questions and methodology are being developed jointly with input from the Institutional and Educational Research offices of participating colleges.

Active & Engage Reading Survey: http://lacol.net/aer-survey

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Discipline​ ‐ An Immersive, Distraction‐free Virtual Reading Environment at Amherst College

Discipline environment - lakeside porch

Over the past decade, academics (students and faculty alike) have been doing more and more of their reading on screens— monitors, tablets, and even smartphones. With the increased convenience of electronic documents, however, have come a number of costs. The ergonomics of reading from a vertical monitor are less than ideal, as is the visual experience of reading a backlit screen. And, of course, with computers come distractions: your smart phone buzzes an incoming text, your email pops up an incoming message, Facebook beckons to you with a only few keyboard strokes away. All in all, the shift to electronic documents poses serious challenges to the kind of serious, long‐form reading that is the lifeblood of the academy.

Discipline environment - quiet study with fire
Discipline environment – quiet study with fire

The Discipline project was conceived by Amherst College Associate Professor of Religion Andrew Dole as a way of mitigating these problems by moving the reading of electronic documents to the ‘final compute platform’, virtual reality. Discipline is a set of immersive, distraction‐free environments in which texts are displayed in the form of virtual pages, books, or other artifacts. Discipline focuses the user on the task at hand by providing aesthetically pleasing environments and eliminating distractions. Imagine sitting alone in a grand library reading room. Gold leaf volumes line wooden bookshelves while sunlight streams through stained glass windows onto the leather‐topped mahogany table before you, on which lies an ancient illuminated manuscript. Or imagine sitting on a porch in Maine in late summer with the sunlight glinting off a lake, the only sounds the rhythmic breaking of the waves and a gentle breeze rustling the pines. Or imagine a leather wing chair in a wood‐paneled study, with dancing shadows cast by a fire crackling in the hearth, a grandfather clock softly ticking behind you. These are your working environments when you enter the Discipline project.
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