How “Integrated” is Augmented Reality?

Photo Credit: milos milosevic via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: milos milosevic via Compfight cc

Ever since I took this position as a tech integrator, I spend most of my time reflecting on whether or not the things I teach are truly integrated into our curriculum. I came across SAMR last year when I was still teaching Kindergarten, and it immediately helped me to think a little deeper about whether or not what I was doing was just “cool” or if it took learning to the next level. I wondered, if a task was just at the level of ‘Substitution’, was that alright? Did I always have to teach “above the line”? These are questions I still think about to this day. I’m beginning to think that to strive to always hit ‘Modification and ‘Redefinition’ every single time is HARD. I also think that if occasionally we integrate technology at a ‘Substitution’ or ‘Augmentation’ level, we shouldn’t automatically feel bad for not pushing the envelope further. At the end of the day it all really depends on your objectives and if you met them. Sometimes technology doesn’t always help you hit those objectives, in fact there are scenarios where technology might even hinder the process. For these reasons, reflection has become an even more important part of my job because I have to make these calls each time I walk into a meeting with a team to discuss how I can help enhance what they do in the classroom.

Naughty or Not?

For some strage reason, I’ve always felt a little guilty about coming across a new app and allowing that to inspire new ideas for the classroom. I always have a feeling that I should be looking at curriculum first (which is what I do most of the time!) and then searching for apps and tools that could support and enhance learning afterward. Every now and then though, I come across a fun app and that serves as my inspriration for ways to integrate into the curriculum. So, is this wrong to do things in reverse??? Does that mean I’m making it about the technology and not the learning? I hope not, because I do feel that sometimes my best ideas come from looking at an app or program’s capabilities then making connections to the curriculum.

Augmented Reality Adventures

I started playing around with Augmented reality last school year when I discovered Aurasma. To me, it was a great way to replace the QR code and remove that middle step of sticking a QR code on a piece of work. I allow allowed me to attach more than one thing to students’ work when I used Aurasma Studio. This excited me because my students weren’t fluent readers yet, so this tool could help me make things like reading charts and word walls more accessible to students with a simple scan. As I discussed augmented reality with more educators, many of us, including myself, still didn’t really see how this tool, truly could be used in a way that changed learning. In other words, many people felt they could still meet curriculum goals with or without it.

**See some of my posts about Aurasma here**

Just this past week, I found myself in the scenario where I started from the technology and was inspired. It began when I was contacted by the creators of Layar, an augmented reality app, because I had written a post about how I used their app in my Kindergarten classroom last year. Layar has joined forces with Blippar and they wanted to see if I would be interested in trying out the Blippbuilder as a platform for augmented reality in education. I have been informed that Blippar is currently working on education specific features that hopefully will be launched in early 2015. When these features are launched they have said Blippar will always be free for educators, and campaigns created with Blippar will never expire. As someone who has tried out Aurasma in the classroom, I was eager to see how Blippar could possibly rival Aurasma, an augmented reality app that has already made its way into schools around the globe. So, my augmented reality adventures continued!

Blipp-tastic Fun!

I started out by playing with the Blippbuilder and learning its different functions. I learned I could easily upload an image that would be what you would scan. Then with their simple drag and drop platform, I added buttons on top of this image, gave each button an action or command that it would do when tapped, and animated the buttons so they bounced onto the page and spun. This led me to think about how I often use technology to allow students to show their learning and understanding in a variety of ways, for instance in math. Take a look at my first attempt at creating a Blipp about the number 13.

When I had finished this, I thought it was pretty cool. The scan was stable and best of all, I didn’t have to follow a channel in order to scan it, I just needed to have the app!

As cool as this was, I wondered about how to involve our younger students in this process more. The interface of the Blippbuilder isn’t exactly simple for the little ones but perhaps with some guidance could be slowly introduced. What struck me was that I could create my own buttons by uploading images. THIS was where I saw some potential in involving younger students! What if they were shown an example of a Blipp, but told they could design their own Blipp. Everything from the image to be scanned all the way to the buttons and the function of each button could be student created with pencil and paper or another tool of their choice. This would draw on so much thinking and creativity! Perhaps they could even go through the design cycle as they plan their Blipp and test ways to create functions for each button. If they wanted to attach a video to the button, they would have to think about how to create the video and what tools to use. The same thinking would occur for an audio clip or an image. They could test out their Blipps with their peers and get feedback to continue adding to or improving their Blipp.

I decided to redo my Blipp, and this time I created my image and three of my buttons.  I also added two more buttons to show you some other features of the Blippbuilder. Take a look!

You may be wondering now, how easy is it to put together? Well, I would say pretty simple! Here is a quick look at the interface of the Blippbuilder so you get an idea of how it is all pieced together.

Blippbuilder

 

Comparing Tools

When all is said and done, I had to ask how this tool was different from Aurasma. So I tried to create the same thing using Aurasma Studio. Here’s what I found with Aurasma in comparison to Blippar:

  • Aurasma did not allow me to attach just an audio clip, only video
  • I could not add buttons to trigger different actions
  • Videos played automatically
  • All overlays hovered above the trigger image once scanned without the need for a tap to start
  • Must follow a channel before you can scan

Here is the same creation using Aurasma, I could only add three overlays beacause there was no function to create a poll or audio clip. I also was not able to use the buttons I made, rather the overlays appear immediately. This could be a good or a bad thing depending on what you are trying to do! 🙂

Conclusions

I am excited about the possibilities of Blippar for education, and how simple it is with drag and drop features for creation. My most favorite things about Blippar is that you do not have to follow a channel to view a Blipp! One thing I do wish was possible was the ability to create on a device like an iPad. I tried to start creating a Blipp through the browser on my iPad but was unable to because of the lack of Flash. If this drag and drop platfrom could be brought to touch screen devices, it would definitely open up so many more possibilities for the little ones!  For now, I look forward to being able to allow students to design Blipps when the education features are launched!

I think that sometimes learning about and understanding an app or a program can also inspire valuable learning, as Blippar has done for me.  I think the creation of a Blipp would allow students to not just meet their curriculum standards and benchmarks, but to also problem solve and foster creativity. What do you think? Is it necessary to always begin from curriculum, or can we sometimes let technology inspire us?

Thank you to the creators of Layar/Blippar for letting me trial Blippbuilder! 🙂

4 thoughts on “How “Integrated” is Augmented Reality?”

  1. Pana, your work is so inspiring! Your post provides incredible insight given your detail-orientated approach. I think “play” is such a critical component of learning in the digital realm and for me, your post attests to the power of play.

    Thank you.

  2. Pana,
    In middle school, it is often over looked at how important play is for students. The pressure for time and to “cover” as much as possible seems to lead the way. I am not stating that it should be that way and have even tried to change it at least for my own classroom. Yet, it is still a constant inner battle. I really enjoyed how you tool the time to compare the two apps. My personal struggle is that there are so many apps out there, how I can learn all of them? How can I know which is the best to use for this for students to accomplish the goal or objective? Thankful for Coetail and a PLN that helps make it a little easier.
    Terea

  3. Dear Pana,

    Let me start saying WELL DONE! what a GREAT post!
    Totally agree with the “feeling bad” emotion when thinking that i am “only” doing substitution.

    I also agree that knowing the tool first can help you to get inspired or being the seed for the different uses it can provide for your subject. As an example, as I explained in my last post, I am now using google forms for scaffolding writing tasks and help the students using paragraphs, connecting words and improving their proofreading skills.

    I think we should not be scared (easier to say) to think of the tools and then reflect on our curriculum and what the tool has to offer pedagogically speaking.

  4. Oh My Gosh – you have introduced me to a whole new level of everything. Thank you!!

    I am now inspired to learn as much as I can about Aurasma and Blipper. I showed my programming husband and he too was impressed.

    My head is spinning of possibilities of how things can change in the classrooms I work with. Yes the technology is leading the learning, but wow, wow, wow the pedagogy, the content, the visual learning, and visible thinking all comes together with these apps …. I am afraid the rest of the day is not going to be focused on what I need to be focused on …

    But thanks – I needed something to move me onto to inspiration.
    Dianne

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