My Zimbio

Friday, March 30, 2012

Augmented Reality - Innovations for the classroom

Our society has already begun implementing Augmented Reality (AR) into our culture in ways we are not even fully aware of. If you have watched a televised sporting event recently, it is likely that you have already experience AR (Hamilton, 2011). The yellow first down marker on the football field, enhanced puck in a hockey game, even the advertising appearing behind the batter in a baseball game are all examples of AR used by sports broadcasters, overlaying the real images with additional "virtual" information.
Another pervasive use of AR by our culture is the increasing presence of QR markers on just about everything. Businesses, churches, and even schools use these markers to link their clients to additional information, upcoming events, and applicable downloads. Retail shoppers can scan QR codes for point-of-purchase information, reducing the need for sales floor representatives in every area of the store. I met one gentleman with an app which scanned the bar codes and QR codes on the products he consumed and tracked his caloric, fat, protein, cholesterol, and carbohydrate intake each day to assist him with maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.
Wii and Xbox Kinect are also examples of AR applications invading our culture. These gaming systems use "gestures" to control game play, allowing users to experience the game as though they were actually participating in the event. The result is kids (and adults) participating in on screen "virtual" experiences while mimicking the actual required motions in reality. Want to learn to ski (without the snow), get fit, play the violin? All possible virtually using one of these games.
Special AR browsers are already available which layer AR information over an image captured by your phone's camera and using your GPS coordinates to provide additional information about your location. The educational uses for this type of application are boundless and incredible.
My research into this subject went far past the assigned readings and videos for the week as I was extremely fascinated both by the subject and the implications for use in the classroom. What I've uncovered only begins to scratch the surface and with the velocity at which technology is changing and improving will be out of date tomorrow.
For example, lets start with the use of webcams and markers to bring virtual 3D experiences into the classroom. I already spoke of the applications for Google Sketch-Up (Google) and its Inglobe Technologies Counterpart (AR-media Plugin for Google SketchUp, 2012) for displaying the models in AR. Our videos this week included one from Thailand's Larngear (Learngears , 2008) showing applications such as 3D modeling of atoms and 3D popup books about robots which seem incredible to me, with far-reaching implications for the classroom. I located a website called ZooBurst (About Zooburst) which allows teachers to create their own 3D popup books which can be viewed on the computer or displayed virtually via a webcam. Another cool application being developed by Qualcomm in association with Sesame Street (minipcpro, 2012) allows physical 3D toys to interact with a virtual environment, so plastic toy Ernie and Bert can "visit" their virtual 3D apartment and come to life, talking and interacting with the environment and each other. Applications such as this can be used in early childhood education to help develop language skills, early motor skills and more.
Take the markers away, and how does AR interact with our environment? The game our reading discussed this week called Environmental Detectives (Peters, June 2007; Klopfer & Squire, April 2007) is just one example of geo-tagged AR gaming which allows students to learn in the context of their own environment. The Handheld Augmented Reality Project (Handheld Augmented Reality Project) provides innovated educators of middle school math, science, and ELA classes the opportunity to test an AR project lasting from 5-10 days in their classroom and provides equipment, assessments, and support. The project, called Alien, "invites students to explore an area outside of your school with handheld computers, requires students to form hypotheses and analyze bits of evidence, and requires students to present persuasive oral and written arguments supporting their hypotheses." This game builds students' problem-solving, collaboration, math, and science literacy skills while providing a fun and engaging simulated game play.
While Xbox Kinect and Wii might seem like pure virtual fun, teachers are using both retail and custom gaming solutions in the classroom to engage students and teach important skills.  The Microsoft News Center includes a press release (Kinect in the Classroom: Scratching the Surface of Potential, 2012) that explains how an innovative high school math teacher is developing a custom Kinect game which will help math students understand abstract math concepts such as acceleration, velocity, and distance. The game allows students to graph these functions using their bodies instead of paper, allowing students to relate the abstract concepts to their physical motions. The article also mentions a first grade teacher who is using the retail game Disney Adventures to take her students on a virtual field trip to Disneyland. The activity teaches math skills (budgeting, finances), geography (students plan the driving route), and collaborative skills (each group of students is allocated 30 minutes in the virtual Disneyland park and must agree how they will spend their time).
The Layar Reality Browser is one of several new AR supported browsers which overlay the real world as seen through your mobile phone’s camera with virtual information geo-tagged to the location found by the GPS on your phone. This type of browser overlays multiple types of information on the screen image from your phone’s camera. Point the camera at the sky to retrieve up-to-the-minute weather forecasts and see the image of the sky change based on the prediction. Point it at a business to search for job openings, and access an online application. Point it at a restaurant to make a reservation, preview their menu, even place a take-out order. Point it at a movie theatre to see what’s playing, watch trailers, and buy tickets.
This type of layering has many implications for education. Imagine visiting a local historical site such as famous battlefield or the location of a large discovery of gold. Students with AR enabled browsers could look up geo-tagged information on the history of that site. What did it look like when the battle took place? With this type of layering the student could experience that. Science applications could include pointing the camera at a certain tree or plant to identify it and learn more about it, or seeing the simulated effect of global warming over period of time on their environment. Genuine applications for geometry could be explored by having students overlay a photo of a room with formulas to calculate the amount of flooring needed to cover it.
The 2010 Horizon report (Johnson, Smith, Levine, & Haywood, 2010) estimated that Augmented Reality was four to five years from implementation in the classroom. These cases are evidence that some classrooms are already experimenting with AR, and many more will be soon to follow. The potential is mind-boggling, and I am excited to see how this plays out in the future.


About Zooburst. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2012, from ZooBurst:
AR-media Plugin for Google SketchUp. (2012). Retrieved March 30, 2012, from InGlobe Technologies:

Google. (n.d.). Google SketchUp. Retrieved March 30, 2012, from Google SketchUp:

Hamilton, K. E. (2011). Augmented Reality in Education. Retrieved March 30, 2012, from WikEd:

Handheld Augmented Reality Project. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2012, from Harvard College:

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Levine, A., & Haywood, K. (2010). The 2010 Horizon Report: The K12 Edition. Retrieved March 30, 2012, from New Media Consortium:

Kinect in the Classroom: Scratching the Surface of Potential. (2012, March 6). Retrieved March 30, 2012, from Microsoft News Center:

Klopfer, E., & Squire, K. (April 2007). Environmental Detectives—the development of an augmented reality platform for environmental simulations. Education Tech Research Dev .

Layar Browser. (2012). Retrieved May 30, 2012, from Layar Browser:

Learngears . (2008, November 5). Augmented Reality Learning Media, Learngears in classroom education. Retrieved March 30, 2012, from YouTube:

minipcpro. (2012, February 27). Sesame Street Augmented Reality Dolls Take AR to the Next Level . Retrieved March 30, 2012, from YouTube:

Peters, K. (June 2007). m-Learning: Positioning educators for a mobile, connected future. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning .

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