Friday 6 April 2012

Getting Learning out of the Classroom with Augmented Reality

For a while now I have been expounding the wonders of augmented reality (See: Augmented Reality and Web 3.0) , so I thought it was time at last to give some examples of how we can actually get students using this technology and to show how it can superimpose the Internet onto their physical world.

So here are some teaching suggestion which exploit two augmented reality type apps and gives students some reading, listening and speaking practice, as well as a bit of exercise.

The apps you need for this activity are both free and the first is 'Woices'.

Woices is a simple voice recording app that you can use on your mobile device to create and upload audio files to the Internet. You can also add an image to your audio recordings. The wonderful thing about Woices though is that by using GPS it understands where you were when you created the audio file and 'attaches' it to that location, so anyone who has the Woices app can go to the location and find the audio file by clicking on the 'Explore' icon on their app.

So it's a bit like leaving hidden audio notes around the world that only other Woices users can find.

Here's how it works. 
First register on the Woices website and download the app for your mobile device.
When you open the app it looks like this. You simply click on 'Record' to start speaking.

 When you have finished speaking click on 'Stop'. Then you can listen and delete the recording (recordings are called 'echoes'), or if you are happy with it, you can click on the small blue arrow on the right and add a title and description as well as a photo to your echo.

Then you click on 'Send' to publish it to the internet and this will use your phones GPS to attach it to the location where you created the echo.

To find 'echoes' which are relevant to your location, just click on the 'Explore' icon and you will get a list of 'echoes' which have been left close to your location.

The second app is called Layar and Layar enables developers to create web based multimedia information (called 'layers')which can only be accessed whenever you are close to specific locations.

Layar comes with  a number of packs of layers and the one that I want to use is the Wikipedia one. This layer enables users to find entries in Wikipedia which relate specifically to places in their environment.

So wherever the user is standing when they  activate the app they will get information which relates specifically to that place.

Here's how it works.
You need to download the Layar app for your mobile device. Make sure that when you open the app for the first time, you enable the location tracking feature so that Layar knows where you are. Then go to the layers.

You'll find the Wikipedia layer in the Education section. Click on it and then click on 'Launch'.

When you hold up your phone and move it around slowly you should start to see the Wikipedia summaries appearing at the bottom of the screen.

At the top of the screen you'll also see a kind of 'radar' screen which shows you where the interesting places are in relation to where you are standing.

If you click on the small Wikipedia summary you will get two more icons.

One of these takes you to the entry on Wikipedia for that location.

The other takes you to a map, which will show you how to get to the place from where you standing.

So here is how we can use this to create motivating out of school activities
  • Ask your students to find 5 interesting places around their town using the Wikipedia layer. They should go to each place research it on Wikipedia  using the Layar app and then record a short audio entry using Woices and add a picture to it. (You can check their entries through the Woices web based interface)
  • You could make a kind of treasure hunt and got to the places yourself and use Woices to leave audio clues about the next place to visit, so that students have to listen to your clue when they get to the location (by pressing the 'Explore' icon on the Woices app) and research the places around them on Wikipedia to find out where to go next to find the next clue. You could get them to leave an audio entry and image at each place along the trail to prove they have been there.
  • You could use Woices to leave audio notes at a set of locations and have factual errors in the notes. Then your students would have to visit the places, press 'Explore' and find the factual errors by comparing your audio with the Wikipedia entry for that place.
  • Get students to create their own audio tours or treasure hunts for each other using Woices and the Wikipedia layer.

What I like about augmented reality

  • I think it's great that we can get students learning about their environment outside of the classroom.
  • Taking learning out of the classroom like this gives students tools which they can use in their everyday life.

Things to be aware of
  • Be careful of your students e-safety and make sure they don't leave any information about their home address or where they live.
  • Make students aware of their digital 'footprint' so that they use social media responsibly.
I hope this shows at least a little of the potential of augmented reality apps on mobile devices. I think there is huge potential in these kinds of apps to develop location based experiential learning that can get our students out and about exploring their environment and interacting with the world around them through the internet. I hope you give it a try.

Lastly, I'd like to welcome Worth Ave Group as a new advertiser. 

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Nik Peachey

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