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Tech Trends Assignment

July 12, 2011

Augmented Reality

The 2011 Horizon Report introduces six forms of technology that the authors feel will emerge as educational tools in the next one to five years.  The six technology trends and/or tools include: electronic books, mobiles, augmented reality, game-based learning, gesture-based computing, and learning analytics (Johnson et al., 2011).  As part of this assignment, I have chosen to research augmented reality further; I don’t know that much about it but am greatly interested in the possible applications of augmented reality in the classroom.

Augmented reality (AR) is a break off form of virtual reality.  It allows users to interact with realistic backgrounds and investigate the animated world around them.  It lays a virtual picture or information over a real life place or object (Johnson et al., 2010).  This form of technology has been used by the movie industry for years but has yet to become mainstream in the public and in education (Bonsor, 2001).  There are various forms of augmented reality technologies, from a tool called Sixth sense that is worn around ones neck and can project objects onto anything imaginable and then allow the user to manipulate them,  to simple iPhone applications such as Layar which is a sophisticated GPS unit (Bonsor, 2001).  Other iPhone applications I came across include 1) Pocket Universe: Virtual Sky Astronomy, this allows users to hold their phone up to the sky and their phone will show them the constellations directly above them as well as provide information about them. 2) Aug measure is an application that can measure distances up to 12 inches by comparing your image to a ruler along side the application. 3) iPew is an application that gives owners the opportunity to shoot lasers, throw ice cream or snow balls at anyone in your view (only on your phone of course) 4) There are various GPS applications that allow users to locate restaurants, hair salons, stores, and office information.  Some of the applications even tell you if the building is hiring. The picture below shows one GPS system that gives people restaurant directions, ratings, and other information (Elliot, 2009).  The thing that makes this picture augmented reality is that the background is a picture of a real life location (with the point of your phone) and the information laid over the top of it.
Augmented reality has the potential to be a great educational tool if teachers can step outside of their comfort zones and try to use it.  There are already augmented reality children’s books that bring the books alive and read them aloud.  Presently there are virtual reality programs available, but I have not had any experience using them.  My experience with augmented reality is with cell phone GPS systems, which I find very useful and fun.  The Augmented Reality Development Lab has many products available for purchase along with the technology necessary.  While browsing this website I saw a few products that can currently be used in a science classroom, among others.  They have various modules covering earth and space science, math, the human body, and much more.  I personally would like to use the human body builder in my biology classroom.  This allows students to really see how their organs fit inside their bodies and work together–application seen in the second picture.  I would like to use a software program that allows students to explore various ecosystems.  They could explore the biotic and abiotic factors, temperature, pH, plants, and animals within each and then compare the different ecosystems.  I would also like to use a program that explores the different cell types within the body.
Overall I think augmented reality has a place in the classroom, whether it be in two to three years or further away.  The potential that augmented reality software has appears endless and I am excited for the chance to use it in my future classroom.

References/ Links

Bonsor, Kevin. (2001). How Augmented Reality Works.  Retrieved from http://computer.howstuffworks.com/augmented-reality.htm

Elliot, Amy-Mae. (2009). 10 Amazing Augmented Reality iPhone Applications. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2009/12/05/augmented-reality-iphone/

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., & Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Link to Augmented Reality Development Lab Modules

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