Augmented Reality in the Classroom
With the imminent launch of Google Glass, augmented reality applications have been thrust more prominently into the world's eye in 2013. The ability to project virtual images in the real world is something that has for many years seemed like science fiction but in actual fact there are already ways to harness this cutting edge tech in your classroom.
Various augmented reality (AR) apps can be found in the app store, ranging from simple interactive games to apps that link with products like toys. Then there's String which can produce some remarkable AR effects but works better as a tech demo (though its dragoneffect when paired with a fantasy themed display will always gain a gasp or two!)
The most well-known AR app and market leader in this respect is Aurasma. From humble beginnings, Aurasma is now world-wide and their logo has even emblazoned the shirts at Tottenham FC. Here's a quick tutorial video link for the uninitiated:
Co-founder of this very site LordLukey was actually the first person to show me Aurasma and my response was simply - "this changes everything!" For years I had taken photos of events and activties for display boards but any video clips had generally been watched once and then buried in a mass of other school files. Finally I had a way to utilise them more effectively. In a matter of weeks the simple concept of tagging a video to a display snowballed and I developed many new ways to apply this beta-stage tech. Here are some of my favourites:
BASIC AUGMENTED DISPLAYS - i.e. tagging video content to a board, whether that be a clip of students ot a downloaded Youtube clip. A couple of examples of mine include a "Digging up the past" archaeology display which had a Time Team clip tagged to it. Another board which had pics of the kids from a "Rap Battle" event had videos of them actually rapping tagged to their pictures.
INTERACTIVES - use the app to create a digital interactive display. For example print off a series of questions on a topic then tag images/videos that provide the answers when they hold up the device.
VIRTUAL TEACHER - I was very proud of this little concept. Basically I recorded a video of myself next to the science table explaining what type of experiment they could conduct there. This was tagged to the actual display table meaning that I could give one group my iPad and let virtual me give them their instructions whilst I was with a whole other group doing something else!.The potential uses for this are wide and varied. To the right is an picture of the trigger image from the science display.
Note the "branded" AR logo - using this logo to mark any augemented display is another handy tip!
HOTSPOTS - An idea that links particularly well with enquiry-based approaches and the idea of giving the students control of the displays. I took individual pics of each kid in my class and dotted them around the room. Within each template was a spot for content to be tagged. This was their "hotspot" and they could tag whatever THEY choose to at that point - some shared ICT work, read their writing out, showed off artwork - completely personal AND they chose when and how to update it! To the right you can see one
of my Hotspot templates. The red box with the name inside
became the framing for the tagged video.
Originally the hotspots were designed using the same colour
theme as the AR logo (again present here) to make their
purpose clear to all. The issue that arose was that the iPad
would get confused by so many similar triggers in close
proximity and start playing someone else's video! As such we
switched in a bright, high contrast, 2 colour theme that differed
from student to student.
So what's next? Aurasma has (finally) come out it's beta stage and relaunched with new functionality and versatility. It is still unparalleled in terms of application in the classroom. But there is a new kid on the block...
Augment has only launched recently and admittedly it still suffers from a few bugs and
glitches. The selling point here is the use of 3D augmentations rather than just images
or video clips. Users can create a tracking image then tag one of several fun 3D models to
that marker. Here's a Ferrari sitting on a book that's next to me as I type:
Now at first this just seems like little more than a fun gimmick, along the lines of the String app, but the really interesting part is this - users can upload their own 3D models. True, at the minute this is somewhat complicated - you have to be able to upload in Wavefront or Collada formats but just imagine the possibilities! The developers are pushing it as the future of shopping applications (their logic being you can see what a sofa would look like in your lounge before paying for it) but just take a moment to think about the multitude of ways this could be applied in lessons. These 3D models can be manipulated on the screen and enlarged, shrunk or rotated as required. Surely this will be the next step in true augmented reality? In the meantime, download the app, have a play and get a little taste of the future!
If you want a glimpse a little further into the future, head to our Video Wall section and check out the Day Made of Glass clip.
During a school inspection in 2011, Steve watched proudly as his 9 year old students dazzled visiting inspectors with their augmented reality displays. In this feature he recaps some of the key uses he has developed for the Aurasma app as well as taking a look at what may be the next big thing in augmented reality.