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Simple Augmented Reality

The 2010 Horizon Report predicts that simple augmented reality will be widespread in education within 2-3 years. Augmented reality is a mixture of reality and virtual reality made more possible today through smart devices that utilize geolocation to locate users in specific locations. We see augmented reality examples today in entertainment and marketing, but its use in education is just beginning to be realized. The video below shows one example of how augmented reality and handheld devices are being used in education.

A number of schools are experimenting with the use of gaming and augmented reality with handheld devices. Leading researchers like Karen Shrier, Chris Dede, MIT Teacher Education, Education Arcade, and Harvard are working together with K-12 schools to create games that provide students with the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills to solve realistic problems in a natural environment.

Hand-Helds in Action

One recent example of this is Qualcomm and San Diego Unified School District’s “School in the Park” which began a pilot in May of 2010 of an augmented reality mobile game with students from Rosa Parks and Hamilton elementary schools. The schools sent grade 3-5 students to the "School in the Park" for 8 weeks. Using smart phones, students visit the San Diego Museum of Art and nearby Botanical Building. Students take on the identity of multiple characters and work in pairs to solve problems as part of a Chinese folk tale. With the help of GPS and AR triggers, the students use text messages, video, and email to collaborate with classmates to research art and flowers. According to Maureen Magee, "Qualcomm partnered with the Balboa Park School, in part, to introduce low-income students to cutting-edge technology.” The goal is to help the students learn to use the tools they will need to compete with their more-affluent peers. Initiatives like this could provide the impetus to motivate other schools to integrate the technology.

Augmented Reality is important in education for a number of reasons:

Fisher Elementary School in Detroit is one of several schools experimenting with augmented reality books to see if their use translates into higher grades. One class of the Grade 4 science students at the school is getting augmented books and technology. Another class will get books that don’t have the augmented features and third class of fourth-graders will go without the new lessons. The six-week study will compare baseline and follow up scores. Results will be reported in December 2010. (Read more Fisher Elementary dives into Augmented Reality)
In the future, augmented reality will become more important in skills training, discovery based learning and all learning materials.

See Karen's Presentation on Augmented Reality here

Geolocation, Geotagging and Geocashing

Many augmented reality mobile applications depend on geolocation data. Geolocation is the identification of the real-world location of an Internet-connected device. It can include information such as country, region, city, postal/zip code, latitude, longitude and timezone. As more and more devices allow media to be geotagged with location data, geolocation data becomes more widely available and useful in education. According to the 2009 Horizon Report, "Applications for research and learning that are quick and inexpensive but still very effective are beginning to emerge as the difficulty of capturing and using geolocative data decreases. Automatic geolocation opens opportunities for field research and data acquisition in the sciences, social observation studies, medicine and health, cultural studies, and other areas. Researchers can study migrations of animals, birds, and insects or track the spread of epidemics using data from a multitude of personal devices uploaded as geotagged photographs, videos, or other media plotted on readily-available maps. By placing collected data on a map and adding easy- to-obtain data such as weather, population, urban development, or other factors, researchers and students can study the patterns that emerge."

With Geolocation, mobile learners access context-aware information about historical sites and locations. Social networking apps can already suggest people or places nearby, or relay information related to one’s location.

Geocaching ( practice of placing media images, video, audio, text, or any kind of digital files in an online “drop box” and tagging it with a specific geographic location) is a way to add information to real-world places. Geocashing can be used in scavenger hunts and augmented reality games.

Geocashing and Science Edication


Next up, see Gesture Based Computing