With the click of a smartphone's camera, visitors to a new interactive exhibit hosted by the Limestone College Art Department can experience a sampling of the leaps and bounds technology has made just within the last century.
Entitled "From Chalkboard to Smartphone: Students and Teachers in the Digital Age" and housed in the College's Granberry Hall, the exhibit harnesses the power of Quick Response Codes (QR Codes) to take visitors on a virtual travel to yesteryear. Though originally used almost exclusively for industrial use, QR Codes are now seen as a means to connect smartphone users to digital information online.
An opening reception will be held Wednesday, August 29, from 3-5:00 p.m. in Granberry Hall.
Among the items on display in the exhibit are a:
• Kodak Brownie Camera (1900) that links to the Brownie's 100th birthday website
• No.1A Autographic Kodak Junior Folding Camera (1915) with a link to the camera's manual
• FADA Radio (1947) with a QR Code that will link to a 1949 "Dragnet" radio broadcast
• Royal Typewriter (1959) used by Limestone College President Dr. A.J. Eastwood
• Polaroid camera (1968) with a QR code that links to a commercial for the company's Swinger camera
• Radio Shack TRS-80 (1983) Model 4 computer.
Unlike other exhibits that feature QR codes, Limestone's offering enables visitors to retrieve information found beyond the confines of an institutional-owned medium. "This is the first QR code-based exhibit I've seen that is open-sourced," said Dr. Randy Nichols, Chair of Limestone's Department of Professional Communication. "Most other exhibits will link to a site owned by that particular museum or gallery."
Dr. Nichols teamed with Limestone English Instructor Reed Chewning to assemble the exhibit. "While looking at the exhibit, it becomes clear how much technology has evolved," explained Chewning. "Those advances are not limited to entertainment as we're seeing dramatic changes in the ways technology continues to grow in the classroom. Older technology was teacher-centered while newer technology is designed more for the student."
According to Dr. Nichols, technology has dramatically changed the information landscape. "Technology has democratized the way we handle information. Just a few years ago, there were only three television networks in the United States, and that's where many of us received our information. We all knew the lyrics to the theme of 'Gilligan's Island' because there was a good chance that when the show aired, a large majority of Americans were watching. But the Internet and other computer-based technologies have shattered that model. Today, any student with a computer is a potential video producer, journalist, and editor. The longtime standard of printed information, Encyclopedia Britannica, is now a strictly online publication; and the popular daily Christian Science Monitor is printed only weekly with its daily publication online only. But it's not as if technology is making printed materials obsolete. For example, WIRED magazine is tremendously popular, and its debut was sparked by the Internet."
Concerning the educational impact that the "From Chalkboard to Smartphone: Students and Teachers in the Digital Age" can have on students, Dr. Nichols said "We as instructors are working towards creating an organic way of interacting with students via technology they already know. With this exhibit, we've taken the 'MacGyver approach' and collected things that are found online and put them together in a meaningful way for students to access them. Hopefully this experience will reinforce the idea that they can learn anything from just about anywhere they are."