Leeds College of Music’s Production and eLearning teams have developed a brand new Augmented Reality (AR) app that can be used with the Audient desks in the conservatoire’s recording studios. The AR app allows students to use their smartphone or tablet to put layers of information or interactivity on top of an Audient mixing desk.
There has been considerable growth in the use of AR in the last few years but, although it has been used in creative projects such as 360 degree video for live events, there have been no real moves in the education sector. Research conducted last year by digital solutions specialists Jisc, showed that students were more serious than ever about technology, with nearly a third (32 per cent) saying tech facilities played a part in their choice of university.
In 2013-14 Leeds College of Music staff, Craig Golding (Production degree Curriculum Leader) and Ruth Clark (Senior Learning Technologist), piloted an interactive studio manual for Music Production students, designed using the Articulate Storyline eLearning software. This evolved into an AR project using Metaio, developed in collaboration with Matt Ramirez, lead augmented and virtual reality developer from Jisc, with the objective of facilitating a more immersive learner experience. The resulting app was launched at LCoM in 2015 and, by allowing students to both learn and support themselves outside of contact teaching hours, it enhanced the content and delivery of specialist recording studio modules.
The interactive nature and immersive experience of the visually-driven user interface, places teaching support in to context and encourages a greater retention of information for all learning styles. This enables tutors to focus on more complex processes within the taught sessions and reduce the need to revisit the fundamental practices and processes.
Many music production students are used to working in the virtual ‘in-the-box’ world. Being able to create music using not much more than a laptop and headphones, means that the world of the recording studio with its hardware and patch bays can be a foreign and daunting place to be. The creation and use of the LCoM AR app within their studios allows lecturers to make their environments a less intimidating place for those learning the ropes by giving them a much more immersive and interactive learning tool than a Word document or a PDF manual could ever provide.
Before AR lecturers would have taught some of the same processes in the studio using marker pens and white boards in order to help visualise and show the signal flow in the studio. Although this was accompanied by practical demonstration and application, the two teaching methodologies were always a little disjointed. The use of the AR app helps LCoM staff to not only blend the teaching methodologies used, but also the learning styles of the students. Visual, kinaesthetic and aural learning styles can all be incorporated and catered for more easily. Being able to ‘see’ the virtual patch leads plugging themselves into the hardware equipment and the direction of the signal flow being animated before the learners eyes is not only engaging but very simple and informative.
Future development of the AR app would see LCoM migrating the technology for use in their pop ensemble rooms and facilities spaces too. The ability for a pop student to hold their smart phone or tablet up to a PA or mixing desk and have a visual overlay that would help them navigate their way to a simple rehearsal set up could be extremely valuable. The same technology and principle could be applied for use with the controls on guitar and bass amps.
Technology of this type is ground-breaking and has been globally recognised in both the education and technology sectors. Paul Feldman (Jisc CEO) presented the LCoM AR project at a UCISA keynote session, and at a meeting at No.10 Downing Street with government policy advisors. The project aided a discussion looking at the new technical and professional educational routes to employment, and how technology can help differentiate new education routes from traditional pathways.
The next stage of the project, currently in beta testing, will incorporate and integrate the patch-bay area of the studios in order to further guide and instruct students. This development was guided by student feedback from the initial pilot, and was identified as a threshold concept for Production students, making the conservatoire’s AR work truly responsive.
Read more about the LCoM Augmented Reality project.
Paul Feldman's UCISA keynote can be viewed here.
And more details on the government consultation is on their website.
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