The opportunities for augmented reality in teaching sociology are growing rapidly. For example, in my Social Problems class, I am now teaching a section on problems of consumption. Having introduced my students to the social and ecological effects of consumption, including their ecological footprints, I have encouraged my students to download an iPhone app from the GoodGuide that allows them to scan a barcode and the app reports scores for that product's social, environmental, and health impacts. In light of class readings, students can then think about how the production processes of what they consume relate to social problems we have discussed throughout the course. We then talk about consumption alternatives (e.g. Fair Trade), watch a video on Fair Trade, and discuss the role consumer activism and politics in addressing social and economic problems. In a personal conversation with Kevin Danaher at Global Exchange, he promoted the idea that scanning a barcode could even bring up a video showing the actual producer and process of creating that product. Why not go a step further and allow students to scan a barcode, which automatically brings up a video that offers a sociological analysis of that commodity or industry by using sociological theories and concepts, or a video describing a related social movement to teach social movement concepts? The technologies to make this happen are advancing very rapidly and it seems reasonable to begin working on a system to better integrate teaching sociology within them. In fact, the software producer, Autonomy, "intends to offer a free software module that will allow developers to build their own application." Is this possible? Would you use a technology like this in your courses?
Interested in Augmented Reality? Be sure to drop into the Theorizing the Web Conference tomorrow at UMD!