MidAtlantic Educause Report

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Last week, I got a chance to attend part of the Mid Atlantic Educause session which happens every year in January. This year, it was in Baltimore and was close enough that there were multiple attendees from Penn State from the different campuses. Between the lunch and the breaks, I had a good chance to compare notes with nearby institutions.

I went to several sessions, but the ones that got the most out of was a demo of augmented reality (AR) and the Policy overview session.

Policy Overview

One of the functions of the Educause consortium is to be a voice for the educational community in Washington, so they have an office in DC to monitor legislative and regulatory issues. The session was headed by Senior Policy Director Steven Worona and he covered issues that a lot of us were concerned about including copyright, student privacy, accessibility and security. I was also able to sit with him at lunch for a Birds of a Feather, and he gave some very helpful insight to different issues. If you are attending Educause, this is a session I would definitely recommend.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality is a buzzword I have been hearing, but not one I had seen in practice yet. There are lots of variations including iPad tours of museums (similar to enhanced audio tours in the 80s) and 3D pop-up books using the special 3D classes. The speaker, Jonathan Cabiria, predicted that we may all be walking the streets with special glasses to take advantage of enhanced information from different vendors and locations (I think I saw this in a movie).

One of the more interesting demos are programs which connect paper objects with your Web cam allowing the computer to "think" that your piece of paper does something. There is a demo of this from Olympus where you can print a paper camera, then hold it up in front of a camera and click the "buttons" on it. I tried this in my cubicle, but I do have to report that I couldn't get the web cam to recognize my camera. However, it's still strange to see a live picture of yourself holding a paper camera on the Web.

I do think AR and 3D are about to take off, and here's my anecdote to explain why - Over the break I went to see Tron in 3D so I could experience the cool graphics. Ever since Avatar came out, I've gotten used to going to the theater, getting the 3D glasses then handing them back at the end of the show. This time though, the note asked us not to steal the glasses for use with home theaters. Apparently, some people out there are finding enough 3D experiences that they are stealing glasses.

What was once an experience confined to an engineering lab 10 years ago or only a few movies, is becoming commonplace.

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