Christophe is the Communications Manager for Augmented Reality pioneers Arloon. He took some time out to speak with us about their amazing apps, the potential for AR in the classroom, whether it is here to stay and more.
Tell us about how Arloon got started.
The initial team spent several years working on marketing projects and videogames, but some ideas were thought to be fit for the educational market. Early prototypes presented at various conferences and competitions were created. Finally, Juan Roig's Lanzadera initiative chose the project as winner of the first edition.
Thanks to this support they were able to build a complete team of product development and marketing. After a couple of years, DADA Company acquired the Company to focus promoting the products worldwide.
What successes have you already enjoyed as a company?
Apart from winning the Lanzadera initiative and the La caixa Emprendedores prize, Arloon has been distinguished by the Smart Learning Practice Forum, the 2014 iPad Educators Awards, the XXI Entrepreneurs Awards and the Educational App Store. There are currently approximately 400 schools across 20 countries using our apps in the classroom.
Why did you choose to focus on augmented reality in particular?
Augmented reality is a hands-on technology that engages the user with the content. It has been around for while with devices that use it, such as digital glasses, but the truth is that the general public is still is not aware of what it really is, and what it can do. What could look like a disadvantage is actually a blessing, allowing us to surprise and engage people very easily.
This technology, when applied to education, means incredible educational settings that can be designed in unique ways. Applying this layer of interactivity on theoretical content eases the learning curve massively, making it interesting and fun. Imagine holding something as small as an atom or as big as a planet in our hands, unconceivable on a practical scale, while explaining what it is.
Augmented reality not only makes it interesting, but also easier. You can study abstract concepts such as geometric and three-dimensional shapes which are difficult to learn through a flat text book, allowing to freely manipulate and observe them from any angle, thus greatly improving the student’s spatial visualisation.
Some thought that AR was a passing fad, do you think that augmented reality is here to stay?
We firmly believe it is here to stay because it is effective, practical, easy to use and overall, low-cost. That’s something important when you think about implementing it in your educational method, or using it at home. All you need is a device with a camera and a marker, that you can either download from our webpage or choose yourself from any flat object around you that offers a high visual contrast from it’s surroundings.
What makes the Arloon apps stand apart from other AR platforms?
In recent years, schools have made great efforts to update themselves, adopting all types of equipment and resources. In any center we can find classrooms with computers, projectors and interactive whiteboards, plus many are considering incorporating personal tablets or laptops to students. This evolution creates a need for content. Teachers often have no clear reference where to find content that takes advantage of the potential of these devices. Arloon was created to fulfill this need by providing high quality software, validated by teachers and adapted to any scenario that we find in today's classrooms.
What differentiates us from our competitors is that most school oriented educational solutions are usually designed from a teacher point of view, which help the teaching process but don’t necessarily improve the learning experience. Our apps help teachers and students equally, providing an effective teaching-learning method that follows the basic principle that education is meant to be entertaining.
You've recently launched a new mental maths app - what led you in that direction?
Well, not to sound too obvious, but this app is made to make maths more accesible! We treat every concept as a challenge to engage the students, and we understand when they say that sometimes they could find making mathmatical operations boring. It’s only because they don’t grasp the practical use maths can have in their lives. The idea behind Mental Math is that making operations is the key to a lot of everyday tasks, so why not make them fun?
Is there one particular app that you are especially proud of?
I particularly like Arloon Anatomy. But the thing we are really proud of at Arloon, more than any app, is how the concept of effective and engaging teaching has come to fruition with our catalog. It’s exciting to watch the student’s response to our work in classrooms each time we’ve had the chance.
Do you have any new apps in development that you can tell us about?
We are right now focusing on finding new markets and getting the word out on the updated apps, but we do have in mind launching Arloon Physics, although there are no dates to look forward to yet. Keep an eye out next year ;)
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