As a school librarian, AR meant Accelerated Reader. More recently, in techno terms, it is an acronym for Augmented Reality. In my brain, the word augmented causes dissonance. Sometimes my twisted mind reads it argumentative reality. Go figure. AR piqued my interest about a month ago while perusing the Alaska Society for Technology in Education (ASTE) 2013 conference program. Looking up info about it was like opening a can of worms. There are a lot of technical descriptions of how AR works, involving terms like triggering and layers. After attending the ASTE conference in Anchorage and experiencing AR personally, here is the way I fit it into my schema.
Augment means extra. In context, AR means adding a little extra to what you are actually viewing. At the conference, there was an art “gallery”/ bulletin boards in a communal area. The displayed art was from students all over Alaska. It could be viewed with extra media added by downloading the AURASMA app on an ipad or iphone (maybe other devices?). There were several Alaska high school students on hand for most of the four day conference to help explain AR to not so techie people like me.
First they helped me download the free AURASMA app, which helps onlookers view the extra stuff associated with each artists work. Once in the app, they helped me find Jason Ohler’s “channel” (collection of images of all the art in the gallery at the conference). Next, they showed me how to use the app which matches the images with media stored on a cloud somewhere. Upon opening the app, four corners appear on the screen like on a digital camera window, or a QR reader. Point the device at a piece of art so it fits within the guides and the app locates the extra stuff which matches the image. For example, pointing the viewer towards a painting of a bird might bring up information on the bird by which the student art was inspired. Another drawing revealed a video played in a fast speed documenting the creation of the piece.
Essentially, students created the art, students created the extra media, Dr. Ohler created the AR connections to view the two media together. The students created and submitted two files, (1) photos of their art and (2) the extra stuff (media files) they wanted to associate with their work, and Ohler made them accessible together with Aurasma.
There was another AR gallery at the conference which required a different app, LAYAR. However, it would not download on my antiquated iphone (yes am trying to update it still). When I asked Dr. Ohler why he chose AURASMA instead of LAYAR, he said because the tech support was awesome, very collaborative folks, and it was free!
Here are a few resources and some technical lingo, explanations, and applications for AR in education. Of course, you can always look it up on Wikipedia.
- How the students were solicited for the ASTE AR exhibit
- Another simple explanation of AR by an educator
- Ways AR is being used in Education
Many AR links eventyally lead to the Google Glass Project. This link is a quick video of some google glass basics. This “what you need to know” about google glass article will be helpful in understanding the concept. In addition, it explains the difference between google goggles (an app) and google glass (device/hardware). A good question to ask is will your students soon be wearing google glasses? Finally, a practical application for google glasses for those of us who have to take an airplane to get away.
In closing, it is important to remind ourselves that technology is the tool to facilitate learning. This link is a summary of Why It’s Time To Focus On Skills (Not Just Cool Tools) .
P.S. By the time this post was finished, so was the update to the iphone, so all’s well: iOS 6.1.2. Now I can get the Costco app. ♥