Augmented reality brings supplemental content and information to a user in real time, and applications like Aurasma make that information accessible to virtually anyone with a tablet or smartphone and an internet connection. Essentially, you point your phone towards an image or object and the app allows you to see information or displays like videos superimposed on top of the object.
Augmented Reality versus Virtual Reality
The biggest difference between augmented reality and virtual reality is the level of immersion–with virtual reality, you are wearing a headset or device that totally immerses you in the visual and auditory environment, often restricting or completely blocking your view of the real world outside the headset. Quality of the virtual experience varies, with a headset like Oculus Rift being at the top of consumer product lines right now, and something like Google Cardboard being more affordable but less detailed and interactive. Augmented reality, on the other hand, preserves your vision of the real world environment, but provides additional information superimposed or displayed over the real world objects through your phone or special glasses.
Exploring Uses of Augmented Reality for Education
There are an infinite number of ways this technology could be utilized in daily life, and specifically for blended learning and education. Augmented reality is ideal for bringing textbook materials to life and adding supplemental material to answer questions student typically have right at the point in the text where they would develop confusion or questions.
The particular example I describe here is a course project that I designed around using Aurasma to create supplemental content for a museum. In essence, students created short documentaries that are activated from existing panels and images we installed in the partnering museum.
Augmented Reality Museum Displays as a Class Project
The partnership and resulting museum displays created here are unique. Only a handful of museums that have embraced augmented reality in their displays and visitor services over the last few years, and they are a select group: the British Museum, the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to name just a few. They, however, built the content with professional museum staff. Our students researched and produced the content for this project.
Integrated with the course content and a visit to the museum were readings and discussions covering public history and interpretation, display design, and creating documentaries that facilitated students abilities to build this type of content. Students developed skills in video production, video editing, public speaking, and short-form writing. And, at the end of the semester, they created something that can be use by the public for years to come.
You can see the students at work, and hear a quick overview of the project, by viewing the video below.
How the Augmented Displays Work
The augmented display material works through a target image that is posted in the museum, and that target launches a connection to specific content on the Aurasma server when viewed through the app on a mobile device. Augmented content can include a video, audio, or other type of file, or even link to a website or online survey/quiz. The target image can be an image you set, or it can be based on a preexisting two-dimensional object or display (i.e. something located at the museum already).
The target materials we created were installed in the Nicholas-Beazley Aviation Musuem in December 2015. To see a demonstration of the video working from an existing museum display, click on the demonstration video below (this video shows two students protraying the founders of the business and is located right inside the museum doors).
How to View the Demonstration Images
Users need to download the free app (for Google/Android or Apple devices) and follow your account (just like you follow accounts on Twitter or friends on Facebook) to view the content you post. You can place the target image online (like the next image below) and launch the content from another screen or a printed copy.
To view an example online, download the Aurasma app and search for “NBAM.” Follow the public auras for NBAM, and then point your device at the image below. This file Aurasma Instructions NBAM provides additional instructions if you need more help.
Learn More About It
If you would like more specific details on this process, or how to integrate it with your classes or printed materials and texts, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also more explanation of the project and its design beginning here, and published in an article here.
Participants and Supporters
This project would not have been possible without assistance from Bryan, Dyann, Barb, Shannon and the rest of the wonderful staff at the Nicholas Beazley Aviation Museum.
I would also like to thank my co-creators Carol Knight and Terry McNeeley, two amazing Instructional Designers and video/aurasma experts here at the University of Central Missouri. Thanks also go to my department chair Dr. Eric Tenbus.
Of course the essential element in any course-related project are the students. Participating students, who were part of the course HIST 4328 History of Flight during the fall 2015 semester, include: Nicholas Alexander, James Aaron Burgess, Shawn Chaffee, Michael-Sean Clements, Charles Cole, Matthew Coulson, Michael Gawlick, Aaron Haught, Joshua Maggard, Preston Moore, Zachary Self, Benjamin Wharton, Skyler White, and Claire Wisker. One of the videos required a second actor to portray a 1920s businessman, and theater major Arthur Clifford was a professional and talented addition to our history cast. And thanks are also due to Tremayne Fisher, who assisted with video production.