By HARRY FISHER
Last Tuesday, in my introductory digital studies class, taught by Dr. Brenta Blevins, I had to do something I haven’t done since I was in Kindergarten- use crayons to color a picture. We were talking about augmented reality, which is basically using digital technology to create an illusion of altered reality.
Crayola has a very interesting app that uses augmented reality in a creative way. The Crayola Color Alive app allows users to bring a crayon drawing to life as a 3D model on the screens of their mobile phones, and we were able to experiment with it in class.
After taking a drawing of a three-headed dragon and using crayons to turn it into a living rainbow, I was able to use the magic of augmented reality to bring my bizarre creation to life. The odd thing is that even though this felt rather silly and childish at first, not only did it turn out to be pretty fun, but it was also the most creative thing I’ve done this semester so far.
College class curriculums could really benefit from more creative activities like this. It feels like we sit through lectures all day and then spend our evenings reading textbooks or writing papers that do not really test the limits of our imaginations. I know that participating in lectures, reading thick textbooks and writing lengthy essays is all part of the stereotypical college experience, but I don’t want to look back on my four years at UMW to remember nothing but writing papers into the depths of the night.
I want to remember all the times I was able to learn something new in a creative way, which is exactly why I wanted to go to college in the first place. While it’s true that coloring with crayons in a college-level class was kind of silly, it at least inspired me to be creative and artistic. Using that app to turn that drawing into a 3D model and seeing what I had created come to life was just plain cool. There are many ways in which other college courses can provide unique and creative learning experiences like this.
It really comes down to whether or not a class assignment or project allows us to think creatively or artistically. All too often, I have taken English classes where I have had to read a novel and then write a ten page paper analyzing it. I love writing, but writing an analysis of a novel just feels too restrictive. It does not really feel like I am applying what I have learned by reading the novel.
I would love to take a reading class where I could take a project about a novel in a unique direction, such as writing a prequel or sequel to the events of the novel, or writing my own version of the novel’s story that is set in a different time and place. Unlike a critical analysis paper, which just shows that I can tell people what I know about the novel, a more creative paper like this would allow me to take what I’ve learned by reading the book and apply it to my own unique piece of work.
There are other creative alternatives to analysis papers as well, such as creating an artistic representation of a scene in the novel through a painting or comic book, or making a short film based on one scene from the novel. The creative and artistic possibilities are endless.
This, however, is just me speaking as an English major. I’m sure there are a number of ways that other types of classes can have more creative and inventive projects as well.
I believe that the best way to learn in college is to be able to use the knowledge we acquire to create something unique, thoughtful and inventive. I can tell you right now that in about five years, I’m probably not going to remember that five-page research paper I once had to do for a math class, but I will most definitely remember the time I learned how to use augmented reality to bring a rainbow-colored dragon to life.