Monday, 15 September 2014

MmIT 2014 Conference

I had the pleasure of attending the first day of the MmIT 2014 Conference last week. It's theme was "Sound and Vision in Librarianship: Going Beyond Words and Pictures" and it is primary audience is librarians; as I was speaking on our experiences of using Augmented Reality I got to crash the librarian's party and enjoy a day out at the University of Sheffield. The social media activity from the day has been brought together using Eventifier.

iTunes U

Graham McElearney was the first keynote speaker, sharing the University of Sheffield's experience with sharing content on iTunes U. For him the key driver was the university's ethical responsibility to share knowledge with the world, followed by it being an opportunity to market the university, and its departments, disciplines and people. It's quite inspiring to hear the drivers put in that order.

On the question of "Why not use YouTube?" he explained that they also release content on that platform, but they find that iTunes U tends not to be blocked where some of YouTube is. Also resources on it are downloadable, and YouTube can provide distractions in a way that iTunes U doesn't.

He also shared what you might need to do to get started using it at your own institution, noting the importance of starting with a senior manager who Apple with deal with, the need to look at steering groups, content strategy, copyright consent and IPR, and visual identity.


Penny Andrews from the University of Sheffield spoke about LibraryBox. This was created by Jason Griffey as a fork of the PirateBox, and is a way of setting up an open low powered webserver that can server just the files on an attached pen drive.

The LibraryBox consists of a compatible router, a pen drive holding the Public Domain or Creative Commons licensed files, and a power source (a normal wall socket or a portable mobile phone charger could both work).

Users would connect their device to the wireless network SSID named LibraryBox, and access files using a web browser. All pages will redirect to librarybox.lan/content if you are connected.

As I understand it LibraryBoxen (as we were informed the plural should be) have been used for outreach events to share books and resources with digital divide issues in mind, for example where people have a mobile phone but limited or no data. They have been used where there is no internet in rural Ghana to help teach children to read, or in countries where the internet is heavily filtered. Penny noted other potential uses such as in hospitals where there is no Wi-Fi. I wonder if this sort of tool could be used on field trips where you are out of range of any mobile networks, to share resources with the students.

Augmented Reality

At the end of the day I spoke about what we had learned through the Learning Services augmented reality projects over the last 2 years. Have a look at my slides to get an overview.

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