April 2, 2018 / Yearbook AR

Enhancing your yearbook with Yearbook AR

Written by Sarah Scott

It’s been about two months since Yearbook AR was released, and more than 400 schools are already signed up.

These schools don’t have to wait for next year to use the app; they can (and are!) create augmented reality for their 2018 yearbooks. We asked around to learn how Walsworth schools are flexing their creative muscles with Yearbook AR.

Using Yearbook AR

The yearbook staff at Minisink Valley High School in Slate Hill, New York, is using Yearbook AR to show off their unused photos.

“Then we can feature even more student work in the final product,” said Kat Hoolan, adviser.

They’ve added video of school events to the corresponding spread. And, once their deadline has passed,  they’ll be able to add late-in-the-year events to their coverage.

“My deadline is in April, our field day is in May. Now, I’ll be able to put in a slide show or clips of what happened at field day, and that’s something that has never happened before,” Hoolan said.

Kristine Mitchell, adviser at Star of the Sea Catholic School in Virginia Beach, Virginia, has added videos of science labs, school performances, a snippet from a play, a Catholic Schools Week cheer, a students vs. teachers volleyball game and WizMug activities (the Wizards and Muggles Club) to her yearbook. She’s still planning to add a Quidditch match, sports awards, the May Crowning and a graduation video.

“So far, I would have to say the blipp I created for Catholic Schools Week is my favorite. We had a Star Wars theme, so I created the slideshow video using iMovie, added some music and titles and then uploaded it on Blippar. It was quick and easy,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s excited for the student population to see her work. She’ll demonstrate how to use Yearbook AR to her fifth-grade class, then let them show the rest of the school. She’s even added unmarked blips to her yearbook, and hung posters in the school challenging students to find these Easter eggs.

“I’m really excited to see what comes with using this program along with what we already do,” she said.

The yearbook staff at Tahoma High School in Covington, Washington, has also had some fun with hidden features.

“This year, we’re allowing our senior staff to include a video enhancement to their senior photos as an Easter egg,” said Cavin Eggleston, adviser.

His yearbook staff also partnered with Tahoma’s video production program to create highlight videos for their sports and student life sections.

“Next year, we plan to expand and refine what we’re doing. We want to see if we can keep adding extra coverage and create a more rounded and dynamic yearbook experience for people,” Eggleston said.

They’re considering interactive quizzes or interactive augmented reality elements. The staff also plans to use it in promotional materials to get more people familiar with Yearbook AR before the book arrives.

Adding to tradition

Senior superlatives are a divisive subject among some hardcore yearbookers. Some people see them as an important tradition, while others consider it dated to include senior superlatives in the yearbook. To compromise, Walsworth representative Jen Wilson suggested including them in a Yearbook AR blip. You could even turn superlatives into a fun video.

“Yearbook AR is a great way to get principals in the books, too,” Wilson said. “Usually, in the book, the principal writes a little message. But what if they skim the picture and it brings up a video message?”

Making it easier

How many thousands of photos does your staff take over the course of the year? What percentage of those photos actually make it into the book?

One of the easiest ways to use Yearbook AR is by uploading some of those “excess” photos into a slideshow. This way, you’re not using precious space on the page, but that great photo still gets the views it deserves. Adding a slideshow gets more pictures in the book and adds more coverage. Plus, it’s easy to create a gallery in Yearbook AR.

“I could do that in five minutes,” Wilson said.

Kristen Swangin, adviser at Woodside Middle School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is starting small this year by adding AR to four spreads. Next year, however, she hopes to have AR on each spread. Her staff is finding the Yearbook AR program easy to use. In previous years, they gave up on the old Aurasma program after a week, so this marks a big improvement in ease of use.

Mitchell IS the yearbook program at Star of the Sea. She doesn’t have a staff, so ease of use is vitally important. She agrees that it’s easier to use than the previous program, Aurasma.

“I love that you don’t need a channel and can move your device away from the picture and it still plays,” she said. “It is also much easier to check if the blip has ‘taken,’ as I can scan it directly on my computer with the Blippar app as opposed to having to print out a workable, ink-wasting PDF and scan it with the Aurasma app.”

Hoolan and the Minisink Valley staff have been making use of the tutorial videos on yearbookhelp.com.

“I started with those. It just took some tinkering and playing around,” said Hoolan, who considers herself to be fairly tech-savvy.

Eggleston’s Tahoma staff loves having the added capabilities, but the adviser cautions that there’s a trade-off.

“Blippar is a more encompassing program. It provides a lot of added functions,” Eggleston said. “Unfortunately, that increased power means there’s an increased learning curve. But it’s a trade-off that’s worth it.”

Imagine the possibilities

Mitchell already has plans to expand use of Yearbook AR in Star of the Sea’s 2019 yearbook.

“I will add it as an extra option for the eighth grade ads,” Mitchell said. “For an extra fee, of course!”

Having Yearbook AR for the entire 2018-2019 school year will make it all the more seamless for Hoolan. This year, many of her spreads were completed before Yearbook AR became available, but she still wanted to include it. The band page was done, so Hoolan added a Yearbook AR icon at the last minute, then got video of a band concert. It’s a good use, but not as smooth as it could be.

It’s a different story for the spreads that were completed after the release of Yearbook AR. They are more seamless. For the badminton page, the Minnisink Valley yearbook shows a still from the final match, which becomes a video of that match.

Next year, Minnisink Valley will transition from a yearbook club to a class. Hoolan plans to have a staff of 12 and will devote two or three staff members to Yearbook AR.

“That’s going to be their primary focus for the entire school year, to think outside the box of things we can do with it and gather the video clips and images and start piecing that stuff together,” Hoolan said.

As a Walsworth representative, Wilson has been talking with many schools about ways they can use Yearbook AR. It isn’t limited to blips in the yearbook itself, as Yearbook AR can be a great tool for marketing.

“Post posters all over the school, and have one of them show what the cover is when you scan it,” Wilson suggested. “So it’s a cover reveal, but it’s kind of like a scavenger hunt.”

She also suggested using Yearbook AR to raise funds for yearbook. One example would be through “videograms” on Valentine’s Day. Or, a pop-up could be added to prom posters, with details like time, date, location and dress code.

Wilson’s main advice for schools?

“Do what you can. Don’t overextend yourself.”

Sarah Scott
Sarah Scott

Sarah Scott is a content writer for Walsworth, specializing in blog posts, eBooks and case studies for the web. She’s been writing most of her life, and previously worked as a radio journalist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.