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I was intrigued by a recent article in ISTE's Learning and Leading with Technology Journal (June/July 2011) called Abracadabra - It's Augmented Reality! by Raphael Raphael. I've been doing some light research on the field since it turned up in the Horizon 2011 Report as a technology that's just starting to work it's way into education. Educause predicts that 5 years from now AR may be a significant part of any online instructor's toolkit. From what I've seeing now I agree.
I was a classroom teacher for 25 years. I loved grabbing new tech and creating multidisciplinary units with the incredible team of teacher I worked with in middle school. AR tech is something I would have adopted in my 4-wall reality practice, and it naturally fits my current world as an online instructor.
CommonCraft has an excellent video overview to help you see what's coming with this new technology. They include provocative ideas about both mobile applications and desktop possibilities. I love the idea of a screen embedded in my glasses!
This really is something you have to see to believe.
To give you a better understanding of what AR looks like here are several videos. The potential for this technology in online teaching and learning (as well as blended and face to face classrooms) is astounding!
I'm going to add Augmented Reality to the list of suggestions I offer students for an independent research project we do during the first course, E-Learning for Educators, in the Graduate Certificate program.
One of the reasons I'm so deeply committed to online teaching and learning is that there's always something new on the horizon. While the fundamentals of teaching remain the same, the opportunities to engage with new ideas using evolving technology is never ending. I've never been bored teaching, but I have always yearned for away to move my mind into time and space beyond the traditional 4 walls of a classroom. It's a great time to be an e-learning instructor!
This Lego Kiosk Video shows AR working in the market place right now.
I was delighted by how easily and intuitively Zooburst works. I built my first attempt at AR in about 20 minutes. What you're seeing now is just a first step. I need to explore how to integrate the video aspect of this system into things as well. As it stands you have a 360 degree image, but not a lot of dynamic information. I'll be working on that!
The Zooburst system, which is promoted as a digital storytelling program, has a free account and a very reasonable premium edition already set up with teachers in mind. The digital story telling possibilities of this technology, combined with the additional video production possibilities make this a very appealing technology for online instruction. I'll be introducing Zooburst in my online writing class Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits this summer as well. Reading and writing teachers are always looking for high motivation activities to help their students become engaged while they become literate.
Here are some resources for investigation. Thanks to ISTE author Raphael Raphael for many of these links!
GE's Plug into the Smart Grid: http://www.ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid
Getty Museum's 17th Century Cabinet of Curiosities AR display: http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/north_pavilion/ar/index.html
ManyCam (free webcam software with AR features) http://www.manycam.com
Pocket Universe: http://www.craicdesign.com
The Hidden Park: http://www.hiddenpark.com
Augmented Reality Blog: http://augmentedblog.wordpress.com/