7 Augmented Reality Apps for the Classroom

In a quest to look for ways to get my students outside active and learning in the real world.  I have begun messing around with different Augmented Reality Applications.  I have made a couple of games using different programs, as regular readers of my blog know.  If you are a new reader and are interested in these past blogs click here for a list of past blogs on this topic, or click on the Augmented Reality in Schools link on the left side of this blog.

I have had phenomenal success with this type of application in the classroom from the few games that I have created, so I have begun to look for more programs to create these types of applications.  The following is a list of 7 programs that I believe could be excellent for creating location based educational games.

Note: All of these programs require the use of  a GPS enabled device to play like a cell phone, or Garmin GPS device etc.

FourSquare : This application can be used on almost all hand-held devices from the iPhone to Android.  It is very universal and is great for scavenger hunts. Has a large support community and is well maintained. You can download the app from the Android App store.

SCVNGR :  The idea behind this site is to complete challenges at specific locations.  This application is also for the iPhone and Android devices and is well developed.  This application allows users to collect points and easily share information and locations like FourSquare above. You can download the app from the Android App store.

Joyity : Like other location based games this turns your environment into a game space.  At different locations you must complete certain tasks to earn point and accomplish missions.  “JOYity is for use on both Android smartphones and Java (J2ME) phones.” You can download the app from the Android App store.

GPS Mision :  This is a webbased game creator for Windows Mobile phones, Nokia and the iPhones.  This application allows you to create location based games.  You can also download and play games as well.

WhereIGo : Originally designed for Geocaching, this application can be easily converted into location based games. This application is limited to Windows Mobile devices and Garmin GPS devices. Game creator can only be used on specific Windows machines. You can download the app from the Android App store.

Tourality :  This location based game like the others can be played on Andriod, Nokia and Blackberry devices.  You can download the app from the Android App store.  Another great application for multiplayer games.

Layar : This application can be download on most devices. This application is great for overlaying material over the real world using the camera on the device.  Great for showing what something looked like in the past or may look like in the future.  You can also overlay game characters to instruct or provide information for the game.

Here is a great video that shows the type of things that this type application can deliver to students to engage them.

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Interested In Augmenting Your Classrooms Reality?

AR Game

Over the past year I have begun exploring different Augmented Reality learning environments for my students.  I had the good fortune of receiving 30 GPS enabled cell phones for my class that I could experiment  with the last three months of last year.  In that time I was able to piece together some Augmented Reality games for kids to play on our football field.  The results were astounding, the level of engagement and the conversations among students were highly educational and inspired me to look into this type of learning environment more. As I surfed the web I came across games such as:

I began to wonder why could we not use this type of technology in our classrooms.  Getting the students into the real world and interact with virtual items or people to solve real world problems.  While the games I employed were simple and crude do to the time frame that I was under last year I did find that the learning and engagement of the concepts I was trying to teach increased in all students.  Also the post game discussions about the topic were much more productive since all of the students had a stake in the conversation due to the experience they just had playing the game. So this summer I have been looking at creating different types of Augmented Reality learning environments to use in my classes next year.  If you are looking to create these same types of learning environments or know someone who is please contact me.  I would like to know what you are looking at creating.

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GPS Technology in the Classroom (LESSON SETUP)

Well as I stated in my last post, I was looking to create a hands on lesson that would get students up and moving in the week before Christmas break, since they are so wound up anyway. So this was my plan.  It seemed to have worked very well with my 8th grade students. I will post again once I get the results of my survey from the kids completed.

Lesson Learning Target:

Identify and explain at least two reasons why the United States entered into WWI.

Set Up:

This lesson required them to move to five different locations throughout the school. To locate each of these locations they had to solve clues left for them at each location. As they solved each clue, they were required to answer the question, “How does this impact the U.S. involvement in WWI?”  Their goal was to write a memo that will convince the President to enter into WWI. This memo must include at least two facts that they discover on their quest. Each student is provided with an organizer handout and a copy of the blank memo they will turn in at the end of the lesson. I set this lesson up to last about 2-3 days.

Students started in the computer lab, and I gave them their first clue. This took them into the library and they found a biography of Woodrow Wilson. Students learned about the President of the United States at the time of WWI. Here they also received some GPS coordinates that sent them out on to the football field.

At the second location on the football field they receive a cipher key. This allowed them to decipher future clues that they were to find on this quest. The first thing that they deciphered was grid coordinates to another location.

The third location provided a clue that sent them back into the computer lab to research and find clue number four. Here the students learned about public opinion in WWI and Executive Order 2594. They began to see that public opinion on the war had to change, before the U.S. could enter WWI. Finally, they received another clue hidden in this room.

The fourth location provided the students with a clue to the final location and dates of the sinking of the Lusitania and Sussex. Here students were informed about the importance of these events on the American public opinion.

The final location provided the students with the Zimmerman letter that they need to decipher key elements of the letter to ascertain why this letter was so important in our entrance into WWI.

Assignment:

Once they have completed the quest, they had to sit down as a group and figure out how everything was connected. This led to some very good conversations among the students. Even students that typically aren’t engaged participated. I was encouraged by the level of engagement by all students. I do realize that the novelty of this new type of assignment was part of the engagement, but students seemed genuinely interested in the lesson. The conversation that I heard and the group dynamics seemed to work effectively. Students seemed to enjoy themselves. I even had to plead with some kids to move on to their next class. I anxiously await their memos and the survey results.

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GPS Technology in the History Classroom

As all teachers know before the holidays is a trying time in the classroom. So this year I wanted to incorporate a lesson that was active, engaging and fun for students. My intent was to to keep kids thinking and learning, even with the excitement of Christmas looming in the background.

So, as a history teacher I decided to incorporate what we were studying in class which was WWI and develop a way to get them up, moving, and engaged.  The plan was to make the lesson similar to the movie National Treasure and have them moving around the school looking for clues and deciphering the main points of the lesson as they progress through the various locations. The learning target of this lesson was to have the students understand the main reasons the United States entered WWI.

In this lesson students will decipher various clues and then create a memo outlining to President Woodrow Wilson why our country should enter into WWI. Three of the locations they would find using just clues and two they will be required to use a GPS device to find some grid coordinates. Initial response to this lesson was very positive and students really enjoyed themselves. Will post more on this lesson and student reaction in future posts.

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