Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality in Action

According to Davis, “Augmented reality, at its most basic form, is defined by the incorporation of something virtual into something pre-existing, thus amplifying the experience.” Augmented reality offers us an opportunity to enhance natural experiences or static images with virtual experiences and additional information. In other words, the Auras below allow us to link digital content to something physical, which enables the information to be displayed and the story to be told in ways that were previously not possible (Mills, 2012). 

Disclaimer: make sure you follow vmw1925 on Aurasma so that you can view the following Auras! I also recommend you click on the image to enlarge it before viewing it with the Aurasma app.

Map of US national parks, indicated with tree icon

This first image is a map of the location of US National Parks. When you view the image with Aurasma, you’ll see two arrows appear: one for the past, and one for the future. Clicking on the arrows will take you to a YouTube video about the history of the parks, and a Ted Talk video about future potential for the parks.


 

Vintage poster advertising Grand Canyon National Park; depicts a sweeping canyon and sky.
A short video opens, showing a time-lapse of light coming up over the canyon.

 

Vintage poster advertising Yellowstone National Park; shows the geyser Old Faithful spewing up into the sky.
Links to “10 Things You May Not Know” about the park, and links to the park’s frequently asked questions.

 

Vintage poster advertising Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Links to top attractions in the park, and opens a PDF with hiking trails.

 

Vintage poster of the American Southwest desert scape, advertising Arches National Park.
Opens a video of the park taken by a visitor to the park, using a drone.

 

Vintage poster advertising Glacier National Park, shows a mountain reflected in a lake.
Discusses the history of the park; opens images of the building of the Going to the Sun Road and a video with a Park Ranger explaining the road’s construction. Double tap the second icon to view the Park Ranger video.

 

Vintage poster advertising Mt. McKinley National Park, shows a Dall's sheep in front of a mountain.
Opens two news stories about the park.

 

As evidenced by the auras above, AR can be used to integrate all kind of digital information into the physical world. User generated content, news stories or current events, hiking guides or visitor information, historical facts, and fun trivia can all be a part of an image with the use of AR technology. I will leave you with this one last aura to end your virtual experience of the story of US National Parks (click on the new image once it appears):

Image that says "Find Your Park."


Deconstructing the Process

Augmented reality is frequently applied to travel experiences (Graham, 2010), and so that is why I decided to explore that concept further in my AR post, just to see what kinds of materials could be integrated. My husband and I have traveled to quite a few US National Parks, and I appreciated their story in the broader story of US history. I noticed that over the past few years, the iconic “vintage” posters of each national park have been more popular, and I think it’s partly because they capture a particular feeling about the park and/or convey the park’s particular story. Since education (along with preservation) was one of the original intentions of the park system, I thought it would be fun to use these vintage posters as the trigger images for my auras. I tried to attach different kinds of information to each trigger image, so that I could practice adding various overlays and actions.

While I think that AR has exciting potential, I struggled with the technology in its current form. As the ASTE Presentation (2012) describes:

The biggest drawbacks to AR, right now, are access to technology and complexity. While there are a handful of platforms that lower barriers for participation, many exciting new applications of AR may be out of reach for many educators due to the level of technical skill required to build on many platforms.

I tend to agree with this quote. I believe that good instructional design seeks to limit extraneous load, but the extraneous load for AR is quite high  for both the creator of the content and the user. I know that I spent much more time learning the technology and trying to overcome glitches than I did developing the educational content, which is not ideal– the educational content, not the technology, should be the star of the show. Similarly, I think AR can also limit what kinds of materials we use. Trigger images have to have specific characteristics, so if the best image educationally doesn’t work technologically, you will have to use Plan B (which again, is not pedagogically ideal). I would also have some accessibility concerns, since it isn’t easily apparent to me how my above auras could be transformed into something equally accessible to all students.

Because of these experiences, I think there is a danger in AR becoming the use of technology for technology’s sake. As with all kinds of design, we must be intentional in our use of technology and in our technological choices to make sure that the technology serves to support and enhance the content and does not make it more difficult to access the content or distract from the objectives of learning.

References

ASTE 2012 Presentation (2012). Seeing more: Augmented reality. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/disruptingtheinstitution/seeing-more.

Davis, M. (n.d.). Augmented reality. Retrieved Aug 20, 2012, from http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~mcd332/Augmented.htm.

Graham, S. (2010, Nov 12). 7Scenes: Augmented reality authoring for digital storytelling. Electric Archaeology. Retrieved from http://electricarchaeology.ca/2010/11/12/7scenes-augmented-reality-authoring-for-digital-storytelling/.

Mills, M. (2012, July 19). Image recognition that triggers augmented reality. Ted Talk. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frrZbq2LpwI.

 

Continue Reading