Celebrating diversity with augmented reality

By Mia Rossi-Marino

Northampton Community College (NCC) is making tech work in a unique way to celebrate diversity at the Pennsylvania college.

Headed by Associate Dean of Online Learning and Education Technology Beth Ritter-Guth, the new Diversity Unbound initiative uses augmented reality (AR), a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, to display audio and visual pieces that champion positive diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Locations at Monroe, Bethlehem, Fowler and online will feature scannable content in high traffic areas, and with the free ROAR app, which uses AR, patrons can view the DEI displays in real-time via their mobile device.

Diversity Unbound’s goals are two-fold: ensure diverse perspectives and narratives across NCC are embraced and champion innovative technology.

“The projects will amplify the voices of diverse trendsetters, trailblazers, artists, and activists,” says Ritter-Guth. “It’s an engaging process while being self-sustaining and available freely at any time the campuses are open.”

The displays and scan areas will be open to the public.

Ritter-Guth says the displays will include music, voiceovers from NCC participants, speeches, artwork and other audio and visual elements, with the ultimate goal being displays with life-size holograms.

The first batch of displays were in place August 1, just in time to welcome students back for the fall semester. Each month, Diversity Unbound sets out to add new projects celebrating new voices. For example, you might see a display for Women’s History Month focused on strong women in the community, women’s historical wins or personal narratives from women.

This is not Ritter-Guth’s first rodeo when it comes to thinking outside of the box. She also produced an idea that won NCC an Instructional Technology Council Award earlier this year. The Smart Apartment Learning Lab is in the Fowler Southside Center, and it is part Escape Room and part innovation space where students can come to learn, build their digital literacy, and discover new things about tech that could serve them in their future endeavors. This room is open for the community to use as well.

Ritter-Guth’s motto is “think big, bold and brave.” The world is changing and the skills that students need and the way they learn and discover is changing. Her initiatives are helping to give students the hands-on experiences that help them develop those skills.

This article was originally published here.

Mia Rossi-Marino

is the communications coordinator at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania.