Augmented Reality Technology in Teaching – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Augmented Reality Technology in Teaching

In a new book published this fall, Associate Professor of Media and Society Leah Shafer and Visiting Assistant Professor of Media and Society Iskandar Zulkarnain explore the ways augmented reality technology can be used as a tool for analysis.

Their chapter, “Immediacy, Hypermediacy and the College Campus: Using Augmented Reality for Social Critique,” appears in Feminist Interventions in Participatory Media (Routledge 2018), edited by Lauren S. Berliner and Ron Krabill.

Part of the publisher’s series Focus on Global Gender and Sexuality, the book is organized around the intersection of feminist theory and participatory media pedagogy, showcasing how the authors of each chapter use participatory media to integrate technology and feminist praxis in production and teaching.

Shafer and Zulkarnain’s chapter covers using locative gaming to create social critique. In their “Intro to Media and Society” class, students used an Augmented Reality (AR) app to mark, annotate and intervene in their offline social spaces, examining how the hypermediacy of the AR world opens a space for commenting on their experiences of everyday spaces — particularly, the authors note, “spaces on campus that evoke resonant social meanings like: gendered bathrooms, dining halls (with their unspoken seating cliques), athletic facilities and the counseling center.”

“As augmented reality and virtual reality become more prominent modes of presenting information and entertainment, we felt it was vital that our students learn to engage them with a critical lens,” says Shafer, who was awarded the 2018 HWS Faculty Prize for Teaching. “By asking them to compare familiar, commercial augmented reality apps with avant-garde installation augmented reality art, we were able to introduce multi-disciplinary modes of interactivity into the discussion. Further, by creating an assignment sequence that asks students to augment the HWS campus, we invited them to apply their theoretical work to material spaces that touch their lives every day.”

An HWS faculty member since 2008, Shafer teaches courses on the culture and history of media, including television, film, advertising and the Internet. In addition to her academic duties at the Colleges, she has helped organize local and national workshops on media studies pedagogy and has presented widely at conferences and symposia.

A scholar and artist, Shafer was awarded a research residency with the experimental media art collaborative Signal Culture in 2016, and her experimental documentary Declaration of Sentiments Wesleyan Chapel has been screened in juried film festivals.​ Her criticism and scholarship on media studies pedagogy has been widely published and anthologized. She holds an A.B., M.A. and a Ph.D. from Cornell University, and has taught at Ithaca College and for the Bard Prison Initiative, where she served as campus coordinator.

Zulkarnain, who first joined the HWS in 2015, holds a Ph.D. in visual and cultural studies from the University of Rochester, an M.A. in English literature from Florida State University and a B.A. in English literature from Universitas Padjadjaran. His scholarship has appeared in the Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia and in the book On and Off the Page: Mapping Place in Text and Culture. He has delivered presentations exploring the intersections between politics, class, pop culture and new media in global contexts, particularly Southeast Asia.