Summer School 2020 “Augmented Reality, Books and History”

The Goethe Institut Namibia hosts a Summer School in collaboration with the Namibia University of Science and Technology, the University of Namibia, the University of Applied Sciences Berlin and the Humboldt-University zu Berlin.
The main focus of the Summer School is the production of Apps for Smartphones that will bring alive Namibian history, life and literature. Applying the concept of Augmented Reality to books, historic and significant Namibian places as well as culture and art makes information and reading more interactive and relevant to the minds of today’s youth. Augmented Reality is created through images, animations, audio and video that are regarded as an extension to books, buildings, museums and objects of interest.
Five international groups, consisting of computer science students as well as cultural science and history students from all universities, will meet from 2–11 March 2020 in the Goethe Institut to produce “Living Namibia Apps” – Smartphone
Apps to augment books, sites and objects. The Summer School is organised and directed by Prof. Christian Kassung from Humboldt-University zu Berlin, Barbara Liebel from UNAM, Detlef Pfeiffer from the Goethe-Institut Namibia and Prof. Jürgen Sieck form the University of Applied Sciences Berlin. Prof. Sieck, who is also a professor at NUST, explained that we have to examine user interface, information retrieval, digital media production and algorithms for the optimisation of Apps. “We dedicate our work to mobile information systems and applications for information, learning and teaching.”
The process of connecting old technology with new for the development of a reading culture in Namibia is just one of the Goethe-Institut Namibia’s efforts.
“The Augmented Reality projects are complementary to others such as the use of Smartboards and computer technology in storytelling, and the regular picture book cinema events the Library hosts,” said Head of Library and
Information at Goethe-Institut Namibia, Detlef Pfeifer. He explained that the concept of Augmented Reality has been applied to other books and identified as one of the many ways in which modern technologies can further promote
the relevance of the book. “Using Augmented Reality is as simple as downloading the App from the App stores and scanning pages of the book, the historic place or an object in a museum to activate the interactive content on your Smartphone. The digital content is thus an extension to the physical object, which together create the Augmented Reality experience for the users”, Pfeifer explained further. Kassung, Pfeifer and Sieck agree that apart from promoting a reading culture, understanding its own history and culture as well as preserving cultural techniques is a big challenge for Namibia.
This project also allows young Namibian Computer Science students the opportunity to gain experience in this very modern technology and in working in international and interdisciplinary groups. “This Summer School will challenge our students, not just in terms of time, but creating an easy to use interface for the users to effectively engage with the digital content and to experience the augmented reality with pleasure,” said Sieck.
At the end of the Summer School, a jury will select the best project, and one Namibian student will travel to Germany and present the Augmented Reality App at the International Conference on Culture and Computer Science.

The public presentation of the project results will be on March 11th at 3:00 p.m. at the Goethe-Institut Windhoek.

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