Today's classroom is definitely not your grandmother's classroom, unless she's still teaching in it of course. I was speaking to a friend recently, explaining what augmented reality was, and how it can be used in the classroom. His facial expression told the story. He was amazed at what can be, and is being done by today's forward thinking educators using technology. All he could say was, "I wish I was still in school."
These forward thinking educators are out there pushing the limits of what we, as teachers, can do for our students. People like Brad Waid (@techbradwaid), Drew Minock (@techminock), and Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd), among many others, are out there spending countless hours to not only utilize these tools, but help others begin to implement them as well.
What Is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality (AR) is a live view of a physical, real-world environment or graphic whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated input such as sound, video, or graphics. In its simplest form, augmented reality can bring pictures to life when a smart device (tablet, smartphone, etc.) is hovered over a specific image. Now that is pretty darn cool if you ask me, but how can teacher use this technology to enhance learning?
Use for Teachers
Imagine a student going home, still a bit confused by their math lesson. When it's time for homework, this confusion only gets worse. Fortunately for him, his teacher has set this homework page as a trigger image for a quick AR video. He opens the Augmented Reality app, hovers his tablet over his homework, and a video of his teacher doing an example problem pops up. Problem solved! Lets do some homework!
Imagine a classroom, where the students can take a "gallery walk" around the room, scanning images of world explorers or leaders, each one linked to a short video about that individual. Students can watch their enviornment come to life and even talk to them, all in a way that seems native to them, instead of the notes and PowerPoints that seem natural to us.
The uses are endless. Projects will never be the same. Students can bring those classic tri-fold poster boards to life with explanations of project elements, video demonstrations of scientific experiments, and link trigger images to project-content related videos. Those boring textbooks? Why not link images in the textbook to interesting video content your students will enjoy?
How It Works
This technology sounds great, and it seems like a great idea, but how does a teacher accomplish this? The most popular, and best way I have seen and used is Aurasma. Aurasma is the world's leading AR platform and provide their services free. Using either their app or web-based studio, teachers can upload a picture (trigger image) and a video (overlay), and then link the two so that when the picture is hovered over, the video pops up, bringing it to life.
One thing to remember is that for others to view your AR videos (knowns as Auras), they must first download the Aurasma app and follow your Aurasma channel. Once that has been done, they can use the app to view any and all of your Auras. It is really that easy. Aurasma also provides tutorials to help first-timers get the hang of creating their Auras.
Keeping up with all the latest educational technology is not always easy, but trust in one thing, your students will benefit. If I could suggest one ed-tech tool for educators to go ahead and learn this year, augmented reality would have to be it. Go on and start augmenting your students' realities.
Photo: Flickr | Tom Caswell