Are Educators Doing The Right Thing?

As I watched the following video this morning, I wondered, as an educator are we truly preparing our students for the future or is this young man pointing out just what our education is missing.  This young man named Thomas Suarez taught himself to program in multiple languages and has been creating iphone apps.  Has already become quite successful at his endeavor and begun looking to the future and future projects. Yet as he puts it many of the kids his age have no idea were to look today to learn how to do something like this because it is not taught to students. Is the lack of technology taught in schools going to hinder our next generation? Watch the video below and tell me what you think.

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More on Augmented Reality

As my readers know I am a huge fan of Augmented reality.  I came across a video from PBS yesterday that I thought provides a good definition of Augmented reality and its possible use in the classroom. I have linked this video below for those of you who are still not familiar with this concept. This is a topic that I think we are going to see and hear about a lot in the future of education.

AR  To view the video on augmented reality click here!

If you want more information on augmented reality check out my past posts on        this   topic by clicking here!

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Argon an Augmented Reality Browser

Here is a great video on an augmented reality application that could become quite powerful in the classroom. It is called Argon and it is an open-source augmented reality browser that will be coming to a phone near you very soon. This browser will allow people to view the real world with their phone cameras and see added content, links, applications and various other information.  All of this information can then be accessed and viewed on their mobile device.  This is a great idea by the people at Georgia Tech.

For more information of this application go to the following websites:

  1. Alcatel Lucent
  2. Another good Video on Argon
  3. Argon – Augmented Reality Browser (q-ontech.blogspot.com)
  4. IPhone Users Get Access to Argon Augmented Reality Browser (pcworld.com)
  5. iPhone users get access to Argon augmented reality browser (macworld.com)
  6. A standard for Augmented Reality? (i-programmer.info)
  7. You: Argon, the augmented reality web browser, available now on iPhone – PhysOrg.com (news.google.com)

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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What is Augmented Reality?

As many of you know I have discussed “Augmented Reality” many times in this blog. To see these posts check out the “Augmented Reality in Schools” under my blog topics. Lately I have received many comments and emails from my readers asking me to explain this concept a bit more for them. So as I sat down to compose a response I came across a great video on the topic by the Common Craft Show. They state that this video is, “An introduction to a new technology that adds a layer of useful information to the “reality” we see on screens of mobile phone and computers.” So here is a great starting point that might help some of you who are visual learners like me.

Augmented Reality – Explained by Common Craft (Free Version)

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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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What is Augmented Reality? REALLY!

Over the past year I have begun working on creating alternative learning environments in a real world setting.  In my quest to create these so called augmented reality environments I have begun to wonder if the term “augmented reality” is appropriate.  It seems as read other blogs and look at new apps for phones, that every time I turn around there is a new augmented reality application.  So my question is should we look at redefining what is augmented reality and maybe create different types or classifications?  What do you think?

Defining Augmentedness – What is mobile AR Part I The Camera

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Augmented Reality Post Four: My “Manifest Destiny” Game

Augmented Reality Game

Augmented Reality Game

Well, I have been off of the grid lately, working on a new augmented reality game for my students.  This game is designed to introduce them to Manifest Destiny.  There were two things that I was hoping to accomplish with this game. First, to introduce them to Manifest Destiny,  and second to get them working together.  This game is set up so each student in the group interviews a different character.   Each person in the group receives only a portion of the answer in their interview, making it necessary for  the students to work together to get the correct answer.  Each stop has a question that is presented to them at the beginning of the game that will be answered a long the way.

1. What is Manifest Destiny?
2. What are the three political reasons that influenced the development of Manifest Destiny?
3. What are the three economical reasons that influenced the development of Manifest Destiny?
4. What are the three social reasons that influenced the development of Manifest Destiny?

The entire game takes place on the back field of our school with a total of  four stops in the game.  I am very excited to try this game out on Monday. Wish me luck!

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Augmented Reality Experiment Post 3: “My First Game”

Mystery Animals

My First Augmented Reality game.

On Monday I tried out my first Augmented Reality game.  The objective of the game was for my students to learn a little information about the three major fur bearing animals of the Pacific Northwest.  The purpose of this game was two fold.  The first was that I wanted them to test the technology to see if they could interact with it.  The second was an introduction into our next unit on the fur trading era of the Pacific Northwest.

The only directions I gave them were on the purpose and organization of the game.  They were told that they were to discover three animals on the back football field.  At each location on the map they would find a description of an animal and an audio recording of the sound that animal makes.  It was their task to discover the name of that animal and convert that name into a code to unlock the next location on the map.  The hint for the code was A=1.  Students then went outside, opened the software, and began navigating the game, once they obtained a satellite signal.

Students seemed to have no trouble using the software to navigate through their game.  They were highly engaged and had to be persuaded to come into the building, when it began to rain.  Students were very motivated, almost driven, to get to the end of the game.  This was very interesting to me, since some of these students are not often motivated in class.   While I assume that some of the motivation was in the novelty of the situation, the game atmosphere did seem to motivate many of the students.  All students were able to eventually navigate the course and complete the game.  As students entered the classroom after completing the game, there was a lot of discussion about the three fur bearing animals and how they came to their conclusion for each animal.  The discussion in class went extremely well.  They really enjoyed talking about the games and the information that they discovered about each animal.  Every student I felt achieved the learning target for the day, and they truly seemed excited about the possibility of doing this type of exercise again.  All in all I would have to say my first game, while not overly complex, was a complete success.

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Augmented Reality Experiment Post 2: “Introducing the Smart Phones”

Well this is my second post on my Augmented Reality classroom experiment.  As I mentioned in my first post, I am piloting 30 HTC  Touch smart

HTC Touch Pro
Pilot Phone for class

phones to create augmented reality learning environments for Junior High students.  The goal is to get kids out of their seats and walking around the school grounds and school interacting with virtual characters and fellow classmates to solve a question or scenario.   This type of environment, I believe, can be very powerful for students.  As I begin to look at creating these environments, I have settled on two different software platforms to use since they are free. Both work well on the phones I have and have a simple interface.  To see more information about these programs read my first post “30 Smart Phones and 5 Weeks: An Augmented Reality Classroom Experiment“.

On the first day with the phones, I demonstrated the basics of how to use the phones with my pilot class. Their enthusiasm was incredible.  This became quite the learning environment, as students began to teach each other and me tips and tricks on how to work these phones.  They were very open and willing to help all students and me in the class.  I was surprised and encouraged by how the class behaved and interacted with each other. Status and cliques of students seemed to disappear and everyone was willing to help each other.  Since the students will be assigned a particular phone, they seemed to become very protective of their phone and how it was setup.  I believe that the sense of ownership is a key to using this type of technology.  So the first day was encouraging for me, and I felt like it was a great success.  Monday I will try out our first game.

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