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VIDEO: Educator Introduces Interactive Yearbook at Wichita's Northeast Magnet

Carla Eckels

Educator and yearbook advisor Justin Bell is determined that Northeast Magnet’s new yearbook won’t sit on a shelf and collect dust in the coming years. The annual will actually have segments embedded that come to life.

Bell says usually, when people open yearbooks, they may first focus on the pictures. “But nowadays this generation doesn’t just speak in pictures," he says, "they speak in short video clips, so the yearbook needs to change to fit that generation. So this yearbook having augmented reality and QR codes is about speaking to a generation, it’s about embedding technology its about bridging the gap between print and digital life.”

Augmented Reality, Bell says, is a way to have an object in front of you be a trigger for something else in another location online such as a YouTube link or a picture stored on sites like DAQRI, Layar or Aurasma. (See video demonstrations below.)

“If you see a picture of someone, then just by bringing your phone over the picture, you can then hear that person's words, you can see them moving if there’s an event, you can see the action rather just that one moment, you can see a series of moments," Bell says. "So it’s really about opening things up, it’s about expanding, it’s about interacting.”

The Quick Response or QR codes are used like a weblink for your phone. Bell was able to add information inside the QR codes to pull up events talked about in the book. He demonstrates this by using his smartphone, holding it over an image of a school play in the yearbook:

Credit Carla Eckels
Bell scans yearbook page to link to a video using augmented reality technology

  Bell: “For instance, Shrek the Musical. We scan the QR code and then we just start to play..." [sound of music]

Carla Eckels: "That’s amazing! You can actually see the performance!"

Bell: "Yea yea. I figured that way that students who couldn’t see the show or the students who were in the show they can go back and see really the best moments of it. Moments they can return to time and time again." 

It’s something Bell says students are responding to. “A number of them had their mouths open and they said, 'I didn’t know that could do that!'" he says. "And they are really excited and I’m hoping that as it gets spread around more and more people get excited with it.”

More than 500 video clips are included in the process of creating the yearbook. There are also interviews where students share post graduation plans and favorite funny moments. Bell is using an app called DAQRI to access the extra content. He says about a third of the seniors submitted baby pictures and other photos of themselves throughout the school years.

“So then if we just click on one of these then it will pull to a slide show of that student just getting older. Then we can press the home button and then we can click on somebody else and it will go through a slideshow for that person," he says. "So then you can really just see a number of kids just growing up--going all the way to high school. It isn’t even just about the future or the present, it’s also about the far past.”

Orders for the interactive yearbook are on the rise. Profits from the sale of the yearbooks will go toward cameras and other equipment to create the annuals in the years to come. Bell will actually be teaching a class about the project to students whose pictures and videos will be part of next year’s yearbook.


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Follow Carla Eckels on Twitter @Eckels