Augmented Community Art Spaces — #BeforeIGraduate Project

Eric Hawkinson
Eric Hawkinson — Learning Futurist
5 min readMar 21, 2018


Before I Graduate Project

About the Project

The goal of this project is to create a deeper sense of community with classmates by sharing our hopes, goals, and dreams for college life.

Project Overview Videofor Students (

The project is in a series of other projects related to augmented reality and its use in teaching, learning, and tourism. The technology is based on an AR platform designed by me (Eric Hawkinson) and my fellow researchers/developers in the Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual Realities in Learning research group (MAVR) based in Japan. The platform itself is called ARientation and started as a way to connect supplementary digital materials to physical textbooks, but later was expanded into various mixed reality learning environments such as libraries, tours, and events.


The project was inspired by the work of Candy Chang and her project called ‘Before I Die’ where unused public spaces became community art and gave local residents a voice and life to previously abandoned buildings.

Candy Chang’s TED Talk “Before I Die I want to …”

The walls of this building in New Orleans were made into a community canvas to let area residents share hopes and dreams.

“BEFORE I DIE IS A PARTICIPATORY PUBLIC ART PROJECT that reimagines our relationship with death and with one another in the public realm. After the death of someone she loved, Chang went through a long period of grief and depression. Her inner world didn’t feel like it belonged outside at all, and she realized how much we avoid discussion of death. She wanted to start a conversation, so she covered a crumbling house in her neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with the prompt, “Before I die I want to _____,” so anyone walking by could pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on death and life, and share their personal aspirations in public. “

— source :

Messages in the space range from happy to funny to serious and sobering.

The Community

We created our own wall in the hallways of campus where students wrote their messages and later connected videos and images to their messages using ARientation, the augmented reality platform developed to facilitate teaching and learning. I simply taped sheets of paper over a wall in the hallway on the ground floor of our busiest building on campus. The project was displayed first for 3 weeks.

Before I Graduate Wall — Second Iteration

The messages and media content were on display on campus between November 2017 and February 2018. There were actually two different walls displayed over the course of the project. Our university hosted national college testing and had to take it down to comply with testing center rules. This actually was a good thing as it showed how using augmented reality could help preserve contents in a physical space. Because the videos and pictures were uploaded online. The contents were able to be connected to the display after it was rebuilt with little extra work.

First Video Update from Augmented Art Space

The art space was re-constructed and the stickers that acted as triggers for student video presentations were stuck back on the wall. Students were asked to write their messages again somewhere near their video. This forced students to search around the wall with the application and view some videos of other students. The activity seemed to me was actually enhanced with being forced to take it down and build it up again.

Second Video Update from Augmented Art Space

Towards the last weeks of the project, an additional optional activity was given to the students. I asked them to find a message on the wall that was either similar to theirs or one that they admired. They were asked to watch the video connected to the message. Then using the same sticker that connected messages to the video, students created and connected short videos of encouragement and support using a different augmented layer. This made two possible digital connections to the triggers on the wall. One of the student messages and one with messages of support. Simply choosing the corresponding project inside the mobile application ARientation allowed students to switch between those layers. It allowed students to check to see if anyone responded to their messages. Of the 68 students that participated in the activity, only 9 prepared supporting video messages. All of the messages responded to different student messages, so the second digital layer to the space only was triggered by a small percent of the triggers on the wall.

The Application

ARientation is a project I started in 2013 to start to form ways for non-technical teachers and students to use augmented reality for teaching and learning. There are at least a dozen case studies that the project has facilitated, culminating in a smartphone application that allows students and teachers to connect digital contents to a set of playing cards.

The Book

The message wall and art space has now been removed from campus. But all of the content created has been curated in a book. Images were taken of student messages and added to the written statements submitted. Then the augmented reality content in the form of student videos that once overlayed onto the card stickers on the wall, now overlay that same content in the pages of the book.

One other important lesson learned in this project is the ability of AR to create a semi-private way to publicly share student content. The videos are on YouTube and are unlisted. The ARientation application never lists those URLs so they are not easily found and shared outside the platform. They are also not going to be found in a Google search. This may be a decent choice for educators that want to share student content with the institution, parents, and the community but don’t want the content freely available online.

More about Eric and his projects



Eric Hawkinson
Eric Hawkinson — Learning Futurist

Eric is a learning futurist, tinkering with and designing technologies that may better inform the future of teaching and learning.