Cutting edge, not class

Millennials love being at the cutting edge and, for the most part, they are the ones pushing the technological envelope. However, when it comes to education, they have not abandoned the traditional classroom.  

Even though online classroom enrollment has increased by 25% in the past four years, a recent survey found that 78% of college students still value the in-class environment. Although 80% of students use technology while in class, only half of them felt that technology is essential to their education.

What does this all mean? As a millennial college student, I suspect it means that we love our technology, but even more, we value the up-close and personal interaction that you can only find in the traditional classroom.

David Thompson, GCF intern

A Child’s Perspective

The Mexican studio Y&R was tasked with developing a series of public service announcements about child abuse for the Spanish organization ANAR. The problem they faced: how do you reach out to abused children without alerting the adult abuser as well? Their solution seamlessly integrates two messages into one poster, each tailored to the intended viewer.

Lenticular printing is not a new technology; it’s been used in an array of products to simulate motion, depth, or animation. What is striking about this campaign piece is the conceptual use of the technology. From the adult’s perspective the child in the ad appears unharmed, juxtaposted with a simple message, “A veces el maltrato infantile solo es visible para el niño que lo sufre” (At times child abuse is only visible to the child receiving the abuse.) This double entendre reinforces one concept and serves as a subtle warning for aggressors. From the child’s point of view an altered photo and message are revealed; the same child is depicted showing signs of abuse with the message “Si alguien te hace daño llámanos y te ayudanermos” (If someone is hurting you call us and we’ll help). Watch the following video for an explanation of how this is done.

A Ground-breaking Moment

Late in 2012, the New York Times published a multi-media story called Snow Fall, The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek. If you have not yet seen/read the story, we are happy to introduce it to you here. Snow Fall is a ground-breaking moment in multimedia journalism, one of the first articles to illustrate the dynamic possibilities that occur when new media are thoughtfully integrated with the written word. As you scroll through the story, stunning animated graphics, slideshows, and video interviews add clarity to the unfolding drama. My favorite graphic is the vertigo-inducing flyover of the Cascade Mountains with ranges and ridges graphically delineated. What is particularly exciting is that the visuals enhance the story rather than overwhelm it. In fact, the story runs for a whopping 10,000 words, which is well over the copy count of most magazine articles.

I predict that Snow Fall will mark a change in the way we do multimedia storytelling. The possibilities are as vast as the northwestern mountains.

QR Codes: Dead or Alive?

Are QR codes dead?

Seen any QR codes lately on higher ed materials? They seemed all the rage for the last few years, but now technology folks are saying the trend is fading. Research shows, however, that people all around the world are actively creating and scanning QR codes.

According to an August 2012 report by Nellymoser Inc., a mobile marketing company in Arlington, Massachusetts, the number of mobile action codes printed in the top 100 U.S. magazines more than doubled from 2011 to 2012. The study was limited to national titles readily available on newsstands that did not require membership, such as AARP. Nellymoser analyzed every page in each issue of the top 100 magazines. The result was a 61% increase in code use from Q1 2012 to Q2 2012. Seventeen’s September 2012 issue contained more than 250 activated images. GQ’s September issue activated every advertising page. Check out the research details here

What if you’re not a magazine editor? How else are QR tags being used in higher ed? At Washington and Lee University, IT Services members donned t-shirts imprinted with QR codes that when scanned led to web pages with helpful information like passwords and how to contact the help desk. Hamilton College in New York used a giant QR tag with the single word “Hamilton” underneath for a recruitment poster. Lebanon Valley College put up banners with QR tags to update students about campus construction progress.

Yes, QR codes have been overused, misused, and abused, and unhappy user experience has tarnished the brand. The technology is a bit clunky since you need to download a code reader to your phone, and not all are reliable. In spite of these negatives, I think QR tags are set for a comeback. The research shows the trends—and smart phone use is on the rise, big time. Perhaps with a new name, better technology, and new branding, we’ll see an increase in use. After all, QR codes are still the best link we have from print to web.

How not to use QR Codes

1. On a website. You wouldn’t think I’d have to mention this, but I’ve actually seen QR tags on college web pages. I won’t embarrass the schools by listing them here.

2. On banners. Ok, so this was mentioned above as a cool idea, but tags are difficult to scan if they are blowing around in the wind. 

3. To lead to complex forms. Think about this one. If you’re on a smart phone, how difficult is it going to be to fill out that college application form with your thumbs? 

4. In places where there is poor reception. Like subway platform ads. In the basement of Old Main. No reception, no link.

5. To lead to useless information. You’ll lose audience trust if you take them to something they already know, or don’t care about knowing. Give them something they can only get from the scan. And, give them an explanation of where the code will take them.

6. To lead to a miniature version of your college homepage. If you’re going to use a tag, also use responsive design. Once again, those big thumbs can’t aim that small. 

7. Tags created in rich black. Designers like to use black made from CMYK. It makes black and white photography look great. But this confuses most tag readers. When printing codes, specify black plate only.

 

 

The quaint beginnings of the high-tech brand

Early Apple, Microsoft, and Google cards.

Before they were household names, these high-tech titans introduced themselves with the curiously homey business cards above. As their brands evolved, so did their marketing. Apple changed the entire look and feel of high-tech products. In 2012, Microsoft launched a sleek rebrand, its first overhaul in 25 years. Google dropped the exclamation point and has grown its wordmark into countless whimsical iterations. Perceptions change, especially in the technological realm. What was edgy in 1975 may look corny today. How does your brand hold up in today’s high-tech world?

 

3D touch screens make typing easier

Anyone who owns a touch screen device knows the difficulty of re-learning to type on a flat surface. We’ve resigned ourselves to the belief that tapping tiny buttons you can’t feel is the price we pay for the cool new technology parked in our pockets. The first week with my new phone had me convinced that my fingers were abnormally wide and would never be able to type a text message in less than five minutes.

I am happy to say that help is on the way. Earlier this month at CES 2013 , the Consumer Electronic Association’s international trade show, the folks at Tactus Technology offered a solution to the touch screen problem: a tactile user interface. In the demonstration video above, keys magically pop from the touch screen when the keyboard is needed and again become flat when the keyboard is hidden. The company’s website also offers a number of examples in which this technology can be used such as remote controls, gaming devices, medical displays, automobile interfaces, and more. Expect to see this technology on the market by the end of the year or early 2014.